Flint mayor no longer tolerating harassment of city employees from city council

A year-old notice will be enforced following no resolutions to Flint city council structure
Mayor of Flint will no longer tolerate harassment of city employees from city council members
Mayor of Flint will no longer tolerate harassment of city employees from city council members(WJRT)
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:01 AM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced in May 2020 that City Hall department heads could be excused from City Council meetings after 9 p.m.

Now that notice will be enforced over a year later.

“We have a responsibility to the workers and the mental health of people that are employed by the city,” Neeley said. “We should be able to accommodate and get the business done.”

When Neeley first announced the change, the intent was to resolve issues within the current structure of city council meetings with the help of council members. However, he said city department heads and employees continue to face unreasonable work conditions that include abusive behavior toward them.

“When people have to witness, you know, a level of dysfunction that has risen to a level where the city business gets stalled, and delayed and, and sometimes compromises the level of service that we can provide to residents, it is very disturbing,” Neeley said.

Recently, city council meetings start as early as 4:30 p.m. and last into the early morning hours of the next day. Council members continue to get off topic, make personal attacks to other members and cause major disruptions and lengthening meetings.

“If the level of discourse amongst the council members themselves will resolve to a portion where we just focus on the work, I think they can shorten the meetings,” Neeley said. “This move here is more about mental health, physical health, and protecting employees in those hostile places.”

Some council members agree with the mayor. Councilwoman Eva Worthing, who represents the 9th Ward, said she has faced harassment herself in what seems to be never ending meetings, saying city employees deserve better.

“It’s not fair to them, it’s not fair to the citizens who can’t stay, you know, watching a city council meeting for eight plus hours,” Worthing said. “And it’s not fair for those of us in our wards that want to get other business done.”

The council’s behavior has gotten so far out of hand that Neeley and Worthing say even parliamentarians and trainers who work to help restructure and keep council meetings moving forward refuse to participate with Flint’s council.

“Our council is supposed to be self-governing,” Worthing added. “No judge wants to touch it. No lawyer really wants to touch it. Because we’re supposed to, you know, say that’s out of order and not allow it.”

Although city employees may leave following the 9 p.m. curfew, the city administrator, the city attorney and the city clerk must stay through the entirety of meetings.

Neeley said any grief given by council members when city employees are excused will not be tolerated.

“There’s a rule set and a level of ethics that should be followed and when a level of ethics reduces itself to a point where people are now complaining, we’re going to be engaging and willing to participate, but not at the expense of the people’s well being,” Neeley said.

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