Flint's EM appoints new public safety administrator to oversee police, firefighters


Flintâ??s Emergency Manager Mike Brown has appointed a new public safety administrator at the same time he says contracts with some city employees will be thrown out.

Barnett Jones, who retired as the police chief in Ann Arbor, will be paid $135,000 â?? with limited benefits and no health care - to oversee police and firefighters in Flint. According to the city, Jones has more than 37 years of law enforcement experience. He graduated from the FBI National Academy and is also a pastor.

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Flint's emergency manager will unveil the city's budget Monday, but already it's being met with fear and concern that police officers could lose their jobs.

Police officers fear the worst, believing several of them could get pink-slipped.

Emergency Manager Mike Brown says he's being forced to make drastic decisions.

The emergency manager and two city unions, the Flint Police Officers Association and AFSCME Local 1600, have not come to an agreement.

Mike Brown gave them until Friday, and he says time's up.

"We will have to impose the 19(k)," says Brown.

It's the power to throw out the old contract and impose a new one to Flint police officers and other city workers.

No word yet whether that will bring layoffs.

Flint resident Marjorie Myles says, "If the foundation is not set, the house will fall. The house will fall, and so we need to start looking at the top and start cutting from the top."

Flint's Sherri Armstrong says, "There goes Flint again. More robberies, more killings, more breaking and enterings, people aren't going to feel safe."

Four of the six city unions have settled tentative contracts, with one of them still to be voted on by the membership.

The firefighter's union gave up 20% in total concessions.

"Our compensation package was considerable. It will impact them directly and in the longterm, and I feel real strong that they will hold firm with the contract to us going forward as far as our manpower goes," says Trent Farnsworth, Flint Firefighters Local 352 president.

However, the police officers union says it was not offered that deal but rather a 30% cut, which it turned down.

Flint Police Officers Association President Kevin Smith says, "At this point we're going to continue to remain open and negotiate something fair and come to an agreement to keep the staffing levels where they are to keep citizens and officers in safety."

Mike Brown says he appreciates the unions who have signed contracts. He says this is "the worst budget that the city has had to put forward," but that it's the only way to bridge a $25-million shortfall.