By Tom Travis
Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley Tuesday scolded the City Council in a scathing statement released a day after a seven-and-a-half-hour meeting in which the council failed to address a resolution to allow additional funds to complete water pipeline replacement. Seven years into the city’s water crisis, 500 water lines remain to be checked and potentially replaced.
The mayor’s statement read in part: “It is unconscionable for our work to be stalled when so many have been negatively impacted by lead contamination.”
“This is blatant filibustering designed to delay and distract us from moving our community forward,” Neeley said. “People should always be placed over politics. I am calling on all City Council members to do the right thing and approve this contract to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents.”
Neeley’s statement further read:
“After seven years of devastation caused by the Flint water crisis, the City Council has forced a shutdown of the City’s service line replacement project just when completion of the project is finally within reach.
“The City Council has repeatedly postponed approval of a contract extension for Rowe, which serves as project manager for the service line replacement project. And, again, the City Council failed to approve the work on Monday after meeting for 7 hours.
“Rowe has notified the City its work on the project has stopped…
“There are an estimated 500 service lines left to check in the City of Flint. The project has checked the water pipes at more than 26,000 residences and replaced more than 9,500 lead and/or galvanized steel pipes.”
Council to discuss resolution tonight at 6 p.m. allowing for FAST Start program to continue
After the lengthy meeting Monday, the council voted to recess until 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 14 to complete the agenda.
The resolution the council failed to address in Monday’s meeting was to allow Rowe Professional Services to continue project management service of the FAST Start program, the name for the pipeline replacement project assigned by the previous administration of Mayor Karen Weaver.
According to a note placed in the agenda, the council failed to move the resolution from the Special Affairs committee to the council on March 8, 2021. It was then presented again on March 22, 2021, but was postponed by the council for reconsideration at Monday’s meeting.
In addition to the Rowe/pipeline resolution, tonight’s 12-page agenda includes an item to appoint the city’s new Chief Financial Officer, Shelbi Frayer, who is presently working as interim in the position.
In other council news, nine hearings draw public comment
Before going into recess Monday, the council conducted nine public hearings, mostly on issues of zoning and street vacations. Many public speakers came forward–some accused by Council President Kate Fields and other council members for not speaking on the topic of the public hearing.
Public hearings allow members of the public to voice their concerns and questions on various ordinances and resolutions. During public hearings the public can only discuss the particular issue of the hearing. Public hearings do not occur in all meetings, unlike public speaking.
However, an opportunity for the public to speak is required in each public meeting according to the Michigan Open Meeting Act. During public speaking that is conducted in every city council meeting members of the public can speak on any topic they wish.
How the public can listen to the public budget hearings
The public and members of the press can listen in to the city council meetings by calling (617) 944-8177 or by listening to the live stream on the City of Flint meetings YouTube channel. The public may also listen to the meetings at radio station WFOV 92.1 and Fact Channel 17 on television.
For questions or concerns or for additional information contact the City Council office at (810) 766-7418.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.