No-Vote Budget in Place, Chickens Coming Soon
Emotions ran high Monday night at the Flint City Council meeting. At its most crowded point, the chamber held approximately 80 members of the public, 0.0008% of the city’s total population. The two main topics of concern were the chicken ordinance and the budget. The meeting commenced with the pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence.
There were some preliminary discrepancies in the minutes of previous meetings raised by Councilman Mays stating that keeping minutes “is new to [the council]”. He even addressed Chairman Kincaid as “your Honor” at one point, a gaffe that was met with an uproar of laughter. Chairman Kincaid called Emergency Manager Darnell Earley to address the council. Councilman Mays requested permission to ask Flint’s EM a question before he spoke, a request which Kincaid denied. The Councilman was called out of order when he challenged the Chairman’s response. Darnell Earley thanked the council for their efforts and contributions regarding the FY 15-16 budget naming Chairman Kincaid and Councilman Freeman specifically. Mr. Earley noted that “no one gets everything he or she wants” and invited the council members to make an appointment if they wished to discuss the budget further. Mr. Earley sat back in his front row seat for a brief moment before walking down the center aisle, and exiting the chamber with his staff members following behind. His exit was met with reticule and opposition as residents shouted and voiced their contempt. Councilman Mays voiced his outrage and called for the discussions to be public, transparent, and honest.
Upon inviting members of the community to share concern, one central theme rang loud and clear regarding Darnell Earley. They called the EM rude, disrespectful, one woman even called him a “carpetbagger”. Their frustrations were met with seemingly equal frustrations within the council. Councilperson Galloway reminded the public that Darnell Earley is not an elected official, he is appointed. And that when someone is appointed, they lack personal connections within the community. She assured the public that the council still had a voice and encouraged a banding together to make that voice heard in Lansing. Councilman Neeley called Darnell Earley’s early departure from the meeting a “disrespect to this community”. Councilman Davis vowed to flood the Justice Department with a letter requesting federal support. He compared Lansing’s treatment of Flint to urban “genocide”. Chairman Kincaid went a step further blaming Governor Snyder and the Republican Party for allowing urban communities to bleed out while suburban and rural communities thrive. He urged residents to make a change in November. But, the night was not complete without a special presentation by Councilperson Poplar. She invited Darnell Earley’s last remaining staff member to meet her at the podium. She told a story of an 89-year-old woman unable to pay for city water and has since went to live in a building for the elderly. As a result the woman had to give up her dog, a companion of 12 years. Councilperson Poplar, with tears in her eyes, ripped dog food out of a gift bag and demanded that the staff member give it to Darnell Earley because “he is a dog”.
The other main point of Monday’s discussions was about the chicken ordinance. It looks like Roxanne Adair’s efforts of rallying opposition for the ban on chickens in the city is moving the ordinance toward a repeal. Most citizens seem in favor of the repeal citing self- sufficiency, economic growth, and education as the main benefits.
The next council meeting will be held July 28, 2014 at 5:30pm. It is a tentative meeting and will most likely include a vote on the chicken ordinance. As for the budget, Darnell Earley did what he came to do. Without the option of a vote, the budget is in place. Public safety is being cut, water rates are set to increase over the next two years, and city taxes are on the rise. One question remains: With such a plan, how is the City of Flint supposed to focus on “creating a vibrant and growing community which will attract and retain residents, businesses, students, and visitors and improve our quality of life”? (City of Flint 5-year Financial Plan)