The Flint mayor tells workers to stay away from City Council meetings that are after 9 p.m
Mayor Sheldon Neeley wants appointees, department heads, and other employees to leave City Council meetings at 9 p.m., arguing that its unreasonable to expect them to perform their normal jobs during the day in addition to council meetings that normally last seven hours or longer.
City Councils ability to manage meetings that limit the scope of debate when conversations shift off-topic or become repetitive has not evolved, rather it has gotten worse, Neeley said in announcing the enforcement of reformed policy he announced more than . Earlier this year, presiding officer of the City Council, Bill Neal, said the measure had been in effect for more then ten years.
In May 2020, the mayor said that city department heads may be excused from council meetings after 9 p.m. In a news release released Wednesday, Oct. 13, he said City Administrator Clyde Edwards will now immediately excuse department heads and other employees at that time.
The staff attending these meetings are critical members of City Hall providing service to the Flint community, according to a city news release. However, City Council meetings usually begin at 4:30 p.m. and typically begin in the early morning hours of the following calendar day, (impeding) staff members ability to serve residents the next day rested and alert and negatively impacting their mental health and well-being, according to the city.
Eva Worthing of the 9th Ward Councilwoman said she applauded the announcement by Neeley, who stated that workers forced to stay at the council meetings have been subject to unreasonable work conditions that include egregious and abusive behavior toward them personally and professionally.
Honestly, Im surprised this hasnt been discussed before now, Worthing said, who left Mondays meeting at about midnight after more than seven hours.
Virtual Marathon council sessions have become a commonplace in City Hall, and personal disputes between members have often spilled into meetings.
Members regularly criticize their coworkers, have accused each other of racism, and spend long periods of time debating council rules, making points of order, or appealing decisions made by the chairperson.
Councilman Eric Mays of the 1st Ward said theres nothing wrong with long meetings while council members debate city matters and suggested that Neeley should adjust employees' schedules to make them more available for questions.
Neeleys decision to ban staff from council meetings amounts to a farce and an attempt to influence council elections on Nov. 2, according to Mays.
He knows hes going to be held accountable with a new council, Mays said Wednesday. Weve asked Neeley and others to come to meetings before 9 p.m. and they still didnt show up, said Neley.
Mays said Neeleys directive may get him to hold a public hearing to determine if the mayor should be removed from office for good reason because he is telling employees when and when not to cooperate with Flint s legislative branch.
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