By Tom Travis
This article has been updated to include a link to view and/or download the Rules Governing City Council meetings. – Editor
Flint City Councilperson Eric Mays (Ward 1) was removed again for “disorderly conduct” from Monday’s council meeting. Council President Allie Herkenroder (Ward 7) called out Mays for continuous incorrect use of the the parliamentary procedure (point of order and point of information) and for continually disrupting the meeting.
By the end of the meeting, the rest of the council passed a long-delayed set of rules governing their meetings.
According to Robert’s Rules of Order, after a point of order is called the presiding officer (Council President) must rule on the point of order. In the hours leading up to his ejection, before allowing President Herkenroder to rule on his point of order, Mays repeatedly called for yet another point of order. Herkenroder told Mays that he must allow her to rule on the points of order before calling for another point of order.
Nearly half of Monday’s meeting was clogged up with bickering and parliamentary points of order.
After nearly four and a half hours, in a 6 to 3 vote (voting no were Councilpersons Mays, Winfrey-Carter and Burns), Mays was asked to leave. The remaining eight council members, without Mays, completed the entire agenda in just under an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, a jury trial is upcoming at 9 a.m. March 9 in the 67th District Court with The City of Flint as the plaintiff and Mays as the defendant in a case of disorderly conduct and disorderly persons. This case is from an earlier meeting in 2022. Mays is representing himself, without legal counsel, in these matters. The legal filing can be read here.
In Mays’ absence the council ended up passing more than ten resolutions and ordinances including: the adoption of rules to govern council meetings and a resolution that calls for the City to cease receiving ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) request funds from the community.
Rules adopted to govern council meetings
A 16-page set of rules governing the meetings of city council was adopted at the meeting. A public hearing had been held Feb. 13 in which a few public speakers pleaded with the council to approve the rules, hoping for better managed meetings. Public speakers called for better behavior and less arguing.
The 16-page set of rules can be viewed or downloaded here.
The council last voted on rules governing their behavior in 2017. The City Charter, revised and approved by voters in 2018, allows for the council to determine its own set of rules of procedure, and in addition can “compel attendance” of council members and punish council members for “misconduct.”
Before Monday’s approval, amendments were made. Councilperson Dennis Pfeiffer (Ward 8) motioned to remove rule 5.6 which stated, “Meetings of the City Council or its committees will occur between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., and meetings of the City Council or its subcommittees will adjourn at 10 p.m., unless a two-thirds majority of the Councilmembers-elect suspend this rule.”
During the council discussion, Councilperson Jerri Winfrey-Carter (Ward 5) tersely announced she would not be voting to approve the resolution. She said, “I won’t approve any resolution on rules until you all [the council] start following the rules we have.”
In the end, the resolution of council rules passed in a 6-1-1 vote, six yes with Councilpersons Winfrey-Carter voting no and Burns abstaining.
The city will “cease” accepting community ARPA funds request forms
In addition, the council approved a resolution for council staff to “cease” accepting any council forms, effective immediately. Confusion was created, for some, across the city when Councilperson Mays drafted a form and distributed throughout the community inviting residents to request ARPA funds. The resolution included instruction the Public Health Office refer the already received request forms “to the appropriate community resources for assistance.”
Council calls for the State to repeal Emergency Manager Act
The council also approved a resolution that the City of Flint fully supports the Michigan State legislature to enact House Bill 4065 and to repeal of Public Act 436 (commonly known as the Michigan Emergency Manager act).
An effort by Michigan Democrats to repeal Michigan’s much-contested emergency manager law hopes to gain strength through the council resolution. On Feb. 1, House Bill 4065 (H.B 4065) was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives, and if enacted would repeal the entirety of P.A. 436.
At a Feb. 14 press conference at City Hall, Mayor Sheldon Neeley was joined by State Representative Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) and State Representative Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint) to explain the resolution aimed to add support to the State-wide effort to repeal the law.
Officially known as the Local Financial Stability and Choice act, Public Act 436 (P.A. 436) was enacted in 2012 to provide for the appointment by the governor of emergency managers to local municipalities and school districts experiencing financial distress.
P.A. 436 gives many powers to the appointed manager. It authorizes an emergency manager to amend a local government’s budget, sell, lease or assign assets, apply for state loans on the municipalities’ behalf, suspend collective bargaining agreements, modify or terminate existing contracts, exercise power over the local pension board, consolidate or eliminate departments of local government, and decide whether to fill or create staff positions, all irrespective of the local government’s charters and law, according to the proposed city council resolution. The entire East Village Magazine report on this press conference can be read here.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org