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Divided Lansing City Council can't agree on new leader

City Hall building, Lansing, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
City Hall building, Lansing, Michigan

A sharp division among Lansing city council members kept the council from taking its first required step this year during a meeting today.   The division threatens to keep the capital city’s governing body from functioning.

The Lansing city council is so divded it can’t even agree on who should chair its’ meetings.   The council talked for nearly 90 minutes, mainly in sometimes animated one on one discussions, and still deadlocked 4 to 4 over who should be the council president. 

The sharp divide has defined the Lansing city council for years.  

Some council members say it gives the public the feeling the council is ‘dysfunctional’.   

Councilman Brian Jeffries is hopeful the split can be resolved, at least so a president of the council can be chosen.   

“People have expressed a desire to want to sit and think through this a little bit more," says Jeffries,  "Compromises were offered.  So that’s just part of the process.” 

Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar feels there were not enough ‘one on one’ meetings between council members during the holiday break to pave the way to a compromise.   

“I’m hoping that it doesn’t take past this Monday," says Dunbar,  "But I’ve talked with some pretty steadfast folks today who didn’t seem willing to budge. So, we’ll see.”  

The Lansing city council will try again Monday to elect a council president. 

 Until they do, the capital city’s business will be on hold.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.