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Local Panel Says Vote No on Proposed Changes to Flint City Charter

Local Panel Says Vote No on Proposed Changes to Flint City Charter

 By Floyd Fuller

In attendance were:

Dr. Henry L. Fuller Jrtendej gengesnayyirah sheriff

Dr. Henry Fuller                   Tendej Ganges                 Nayyirah Sheriff

Flint – On Monday September 29th at 5:30pm State Representative Woodrow Stanley lead a discussion moderated by Paul Rozycki Political Science Professor of Mott Community College at a town hall meeting, located at New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church In the city of Flint, for the purpose of discussing the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Committee which was put in place by Emergency Manager Darnell Early, suggesting that the city change to a City Manager type of government when it regains local control. Those changes can only happen if voters vote to make these changes to the Flint City Charter this November. There are six proposed revisions.

Four panelist were questioned on the proposed revisions suggested by the Blue Ribbon committee Dr Henry L. Fuller Pastor of the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Tedaj Ganges Executive Director of Operation Initiative of the University of Michigan Flint, Nayyirah Shariff city resident and Divorce Attorney Terry Bankert.

Rozycki start the session by asking each panelist their opinion of proposed revisions of the Flint City Charter. He asked about Proposal (2) first which deals with the number of principle staff appointments that the Mayor can currently make and rather or not reducing that number helps or hurts the City of Flint and its residents and how so? Dr. Fuller said, “I personally think that just to look at these issues and conclude that they need to be eliminated would be a tragic mistake I think that I would have to study well what the function of these departments are what they need to be and certainly find the personnel that qualified to do the job, and assign them where ever the Mayor might decide to reorganize. All that needs to be covered in the process and not just eliminate for the sake of elimination or when you talk about changing the charter when we just simply want change rather we look at the function of it or not change for the sake of change does not mean good and so we need to study well of what consequences it would produce".

Rozycki then asked about Proposal (3) Budgetary Best Practices, who would they suggest as a model if this proposal passed, and if they were aware of the current model for the budgetary practice and what would this proposal change? Attorney Bankcard said "we're not going to get enough information on which of these amendments to adopt other than Proposal (1) in this type of forum".

Nayyirah responded by saying, " the question were vague because you would have to try to figure out what departments are there now, what departments are reorganizing and think about what administration is coming in, that can change with the administration, that can change with the Walling administration. So I think we should vote no we've been fooled several times before and I think  it's time for us to wake up and vote no on all this stuff so we can have further conversation".

On propose (5) Rozycki asked the panel about what role the Civil Service Commission played and if  there are cases on the books that the Commission is currently examining and if those cases can be pursued or simply closed? Tendaj said, "I think is very dangerous to simply eliminate systems without a more careful review, exactly what function the civil service would be under? A new system at this point in time I think it is ludicrous to talk about eliminating".

To the same question Dr. Fuller added " I look at it as one to be examined well, the phraseology of such is serious because as I look at it, the role of the civil service the fact that it was necessary to replace it we cannot vote it out, or eliminated it without any kind of real seriousness as to what would be eliminated in the process. This particular Commission is one that means so much in our community I would not dare say eliminate it, this cannot be eliminated".

Nayyirah, "I think I will be real blunt right now, this question predisposes that we have a real functioning Civil Service Commission we do not. On December the 8th 2011 Emergency Manager Mike Brown cited executive order which eliminates the Civil Service Commission. So the question we should be asking is why are we voting on this old 3 year act of the Emergency Manager who has eliminated it in the begin"?

The Civil Service Commission was made for employees who have professional arbitration to file grievances. So it is interesting that this one and the next one (Proposal 6) are up for change.

According to Nayyirah, the Charter states that everybody can use the Civil Service Commission except for elected officials, the Civil Service Director, people serving at the pleasure of the Mayor the City Council, Planning Commission or some others in that order. "The Ombudsman and staff are contractual employees, and so have the opportunity if they feel that they are being mistreated, to go to the Civil Service Commission which was made up of (2) appointed representatives’ (2) people from the administrations and (3) at large Public Representatives. It was a way for people to go to get their grievances heard. If we would have had a Civil Service Commission, possibly the lady who has issue with Hurley, she could have went to the Civil Service Commission and these other employees they could have went to the Civil Service Commission because even if you are represented by a union you can still access the Civil Service Commission but that is being denied to employees now".

Terry Bankert said, “We need it because it helps keep a positive work environment we need to maintain it, just for that, because it helps the workers be treated more fairly because if the workers are treated fairly they're going to feel more loved and they will be better workers for us. I think the Civil Service Commission is a meaningful outlet for individual people that are inside the employee base and it is a way to protect them”.

Rozycki asked should the Ombudsman Office be eliminated under Proposal (6).

Fuller "I think that it has been well expressed that the elimination causes serious problems because those who are having any voice is less… I would hate to see the Ombudsman get rid of and not be in a position to be effective we need an Ombudsman too many people that are disadvantaged need an Ombudsman".

Tedaj “the Ombudsman person or entity create for the voice of the people to have access out, you never want to put a wall where there needs to be a door, you should not make people go to a side door to get to the out, the front door needs to be there. There should be no debate about that unless the Powers fear being challenged and they want to eliminate the challenge to them and the access to the Power. The Ombudsman position should be there if there is anybody there, their needs to be somebody there to keep in check”.

“Well the emerging manager Mike Brown eliminated and the civil service all the same day and all employees would terminate, stated Nayyirah. I'm going to ask the question I asked earlier why are we voting on this, three years after we haven't had an actual Ombudsman what happened to the existing complaints people voted “No” before, they need to do the same now”.

 Panelists agreeing that all the proposed revisions should be voted down, except Attorney Terry Bankert who said he would vote for Proposal (1) because he didn't feel proposal (1) guarantee the city would get a City Manager.

Representative Woodrow Stanley concluded the meeting by challenging the audience to email him (5) cities who have changed their government to solve these types of problems.

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