Harsh words for Flint councilmen at public meeting

A weak turnout didn't prevent the harsh words people had for their councilmen Thursday.

Councilmen Bernard Lawler (Ward 5), Sheldon Neeley (Ward 6), Michael Sarginson (Ward 8) and Bryant Nolden (Ward 3) took the heat and addressed allegations they were among elected leaders who were supposed to protect the people, but instead let the state take over the financial mess in Flint.

To loud applause, outspoken Flint resident Eric Mays criticized the leaders there was â??no public input,â?? while the city was under financial review.

â??I feel the same pain that you feel about the conditions of the city,â?? said Councilman Lawler. â??And the dictatorship, I never did agree with that,â?? he added about the emergency manager law. Lawler signed the petition to repeal Michigan's Public Act 4. But voters didnâ??t have to oust Emergency Financial Manager Mike Brown. This week, an Ingham County circuit court judge restored power to the mayor and council.

"It's a success for democracy, but not necessarily a success for Flint,â?? said Chris Del Morone, who qualified elected leaders need to be held more accountable for their actions.

Del Morone addressed the councilmen, "A crime has been committed. You just can't take money out of the water and sewer fund, use it for city operations."

Last November, a financial review team found the city had done just that - about $5.3 million worth - leaving residents to wonder if they were in good hands before the state takeover.

"What's confusing to me is this city never seems to know how much of a deficit they really are,â?? said Craig Smith.

Mike brown was in the middle of requesting $20 million in fiscal stabilization bonds to cover the city's deficit, when he was served the restraining order.

For now, the financial mess is back in the council's court. Councilmen Lawler, Neeley, Nolden and Sarginson plan to include comments made Thursday into an agenda for the councilâ??s next official meeting, which is tentatively set for Monday, pending Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's official order.