Wednesday, December 16, 2009


By Terry Bankert a Flint Divorce Attorney sharing his opinion.

A meeting took place on Dec. 15 at 6:30 pm, in room 205 of the Flint Public Library about the following report.

That is found below in its entirety.

The Flint Journal by way of Kristin Longley was present. This neutral coverage can be found in her article. Link to Longley article to be posted here. Please take the time to review it.
12/14/09 on MLIVE

12/09/09 on MLIVE

Its interesting that TV 12 did not cover the event.

No neutrality is claimed on my part. That discussion will occur later.

But first “What am I.”

Here I look like a community blogger new media participant with too much time on my hands. Not true I am so busy I cannot take lunch and I work weekends.

Am I an ex politico , (Dem Pty City Clerk City Ombudsman), looking for a new new gig, no I have given up on that.

Am I another narcissistic egotist in Flint politics that seeks the rush of public attention. God I hope not.

What I hope I am here is a responsible Flint Citizen participating in the public policy debate of my City. As such I am not neutral.

My goal is to encourage you to step forward and participate. Our Flint City will be better off for it.

The purpose of this What am question is to make it clear I am not a neutral here, I am not always right, form your own opinions with multiple sources of information. With that disclaimer "Lets get er done".

Please become involved in this debate. LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS ,(LWV),OF THE FLINT AREA Slide Show 12/15/09
Thumbnail 12/15/09

It was a cold icy night with travel warnings. The LWV presented their product. This is an excellent example of the work that a thoughtful civic organization can contribute. My hope is that they will be the launching pad for an intense community discussion on how our city should be organized. The landing pad will be with the mayor , the Flint City Council, and the community by way of public debate and electoral ballot question(s).


Multiple agendas were present and active in the room.

There was a quorum of the Flint City Council present.

They were careful in my opinion to not violate the open meetings act.

Delrico J. Loyd -1st Ward present 12/15/09 at LWV
Jackie Foster Poplar-2nd Ward not present 12/15/09 at LWV
Bryant W. Nolden - 3rd Ward not present 12/15/09 at LWV
Joshua M. Freeman - 4th Ward present 12/15/09 at LWV
Bernard Lawler - 5th Ward present 12/15/09 at LWV
Sheldon Neeley- 6th Ward not present 12/15/09 at LWV
Dale K. Weighill - 7th Ward present 12/15/09 at LWV
Michael J. Sarginson - 8th Ward not present 12/15/09 at LWV
Scott Kincaid - 9th WardPresent 12/15/09 at LWV

There were nine members of the Flint City Council 5 were present 12/15/09 at the Flint League of Women Voters meeting.

Flint City Charter Sec. 3-203 QUORUM.

A majority of the members elect of the City Council shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may convene and adjourn from time to time. The City Council may compel attendance of absent members in the manner and subject to the penalties provided by ordinance.
(Adopted by the electorate, 11-5-74)

The Open Meetings Act, Public Act No. 267 of 1976, protects your right to know
what’s going on in government by opening to full public view the processes by which
elected and non-elected officials make decisions on your behalf.[1- ]

“Meeting” means the convening of a public body at which a quorum is present for the purpose of deliberating toward or rendering a decision on a public policy.[1]

Here the Flint City Council did not convene the meeting nor control the discussion of agenda. No conclusion was made. In fact several council people present indicated that there was a quorum present and moved the discussion on how to get the LWV report properly before the entire council. They simple listened to the report of the LMV and made several comments and shared some opinions. see MCL 15.621

An unresolved question on 12/15/09 is how much of a change to the charter can be placed on the ballot without requiring the election of a Charter Revision Commission?

How should the Council and Mayor approach this question?

One suggestion is to form a Citizens committee inclusive of members of the City Administration and City Council to study the LWV report collect information, conduct public hearings and generate a more detailed community based report.

The recommendations would be one of three.
1. Do nothing except to comply with the current City Charter.
2. Recommend changes to tweek the charter.
3. Elect a Charter Revision Commission to make significant changes to the Charter.

Review of the Flint City Charter follows, produced by the LWV


Several events within city government in 2008, led to a review of the City Charter by the League of Women Voters of the Flint Area (LWVFA).

There were no preconceived or predetermined results or course of action. The review was limited to the concerns which had been expressed. It was not to be a detailed examination of the Charter.

The LWV can take action when a study has taken place and a position developed.

The position regarding the City Charter was developed in the early ‘70s, updated in 1995.

The position is as follows: FLINT CITY CHARTER: Support of Charter with the following standards:
A. Support a strong mayor elected on a non-partisan basis.
B. Support non-partisan election of council persons.
C. Support a direct line of responsibility and accountability to be clearly established for all departments, agencies, boards, and commissions for the function of city government.
D. Support a responsible and accountable financial structure under the juris- diction of the executive.
E. Support City Council power to override a mayoral veto by 2/3 vote.
F. Support a personnel system under the jurisdiction and responsible to the executive with policies consistent with sound personnel procedures, which allows for a grievance commission responsible for employee appeals and accountable to City Council.

The concerns included:
- adoption of the budget,
- Mayor’s intransigence,
- lack of civility and respect of Mayor and Council,
- litigation brought by vendors, employees, citizens,
- role of the City Attorney,
- legal representation for City Council and city employees,
- interim appointment of Police Chief,
- operation of Civil Service Commission,
- role of City Clerk.

The League decided to look to the Charter for answers.

The committee which was to review the Charter decided to meet with several persons involved in the drafting of the Charter as well as those charged with implementing the Charter.

All respondents were asked two questions:

Has the revised Charter been effective?

Do you think there should be any changes in the Charter?

From the Charter Revision Committee were Dr. Peter Gluck, researcher; Thomas Donnellan, attorney; Carl Bekofske, chairman; Joe Conroy and John West, Jr., members. Mr. Bekofske was on the first council following adoption of the revised Charter. He also served as City Attorney. Joe Conroy had perspective as a member of the Charter Revision Committee and member of a Mayor’s Administrative Team. Other participants were City Attorneys William H. Crawford II, Michael Joliat and Olof Karlstrom; Rick Crannie and Doris Petross Buckner of the Civil Service Commission; James Ananich, president, Ehren Gonzales and Scott Kincaid, City Council; Josh Freeman, former City Council member; Tony Morolla, former Civil Service Commission Chair and the first Personnel Director; Inez Brown, City Clerk; and Angela Watkins, Acting City Attorney. Unfortunately, the committee was unable to connect with Darryl Buchanan. He had been City Administrator, member and President of City Council and Ombudsman. Trechelle Young, City Attorney, was scheduled to meet with the committee. Unfortunately, that meeting did not take place.

The majority of the consultants believed the Charter needs only to be tweaked (amended).

Some believed there should be total revision.

Dr. Gluck believed the Charter should be overhauled . . . . . . . .

The current Charter could be rewritten, reduced to less than seventeen pages.
Function of the Charter is to be flexible and enabling.

Present Charter is overly restrictive and disabling.

A citizen should be able to pick up the Charter, read and understand it.

The prior city attorneys were in agreement that the Charter is clear that all legal personnel are to be retained by the City Attorney.

They were emphatic that the City Attorney represents the City, not the Mayor not City Council. Departments and executives needing legal representation often chose an attorney with the required expertise from two or more suggested by the City Attorney.

The budget was usually adopted, sometimes with contentions resolved later.

Some issues not addressed in the current Charter are:
1) Guidelines for employment of an interim department head or official;
2) Remedy for failure to appoint members of a Board or Commission, thereby rendering the body ineffective;
3) Procedure to resolve intransigence when alternative action is available.

The Charter is available through the American Legal Publishing Online Library, although the amendments may not be there.

The committee undertook a limited review of the Charter based on questions about certain activities of the Mayor and City Council mentioned in news items.

The conclusions cited below are summary statements based on statements from the consultants. Conclusions 1. Reduce the number of mayoral appointees. There can be 21.

The Mayor is charged with appointing –
a) City Administrator
b) Executives responsible for budget, personnel, legal counsel and administrative services – not to exceed 10
c) Executive Departments to administer responsibilities for Public Safety, Public Works, Utilities, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Finance, Community Development, and Environmental Protection – not to exceed 10
d) Should Council approve appointments?
2. Reduce the number of wards Loss of population, businesses and loss of tax base
3. Establish guidelines for interim appointments 90 day term advocated
4. Eliminate office of Ombudsman
a) The effectiveness of this office was severely compromised due to a 7- year span of inactivity b) Replace with Police Commission or Citizens Advisory Board
c) What about non-police complaints?
d) Combine with Standards of Conduct Board

5. Establish a process to assure fiduciary responsibility

6. Combine departments, e.g., Budget and Finance, Public Safety (police and fire), etc.

7. Establish, maintain (update) Master Plan

8. Revisit strong mayor vs. city manager Assure professional personnel

9. Revisit election (selection) of Council members and Mayor Election cycle: Mayor - presidential year; Council - gubernatorial year; staggered terms Wards: at large elections or combination

10. Revise section regarding City Clerk Role and responsibilities

11. Revisit (clarify) responsibilities of City Attorney Guidelines for representation

12. Retain Civil Service Commission Appeal process for non-union employees

13. Review City Charter periodically Ten year intervals (Model review after legislative review of state Constitution)

14. Direct correlation between character and performance of officials

15. Implementation of Charter is responsibility of the citizenry

The citizens have the responsibility, ultimately, for city governance.

The committee would recommend to them that –

City Council review, periodically, the Charter and make any changes which seem advisable; and that A Master Plan for the City be maintained.

Respectfully submitted,
Rhina Griffel Helen Hoyt Ann Kraft Jack Minore Paul Rozycki Edith Prunty Spencer, Chair November 2, 2009 P.O. Box 230, Flint, Michigan 48501

Posted here by
Terry Bankert

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