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Flint city council wants Emergency Manager Darnell Earley to go

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Flint City Council may soon try to push out the city’s emergency manager.

Flint has been under the control of an emergency manager appointed by the governor since 2011. Three men have served as Flint’s emergency manager.  Darnell Earley was appointed to the job a year ago. His 18-month appointment ends next Spring. 

But that’s not soon enough for City Councilman Sheldon Neeley.

“Democracy needs to be restored, today, right now,” says Neeley.

Neeley says the current emergency manager law gives the city council the power it needs to remove Earley.

“We’re going to use that law to our favor to say we don’t want him anymore,” says Neeley.  

Last night, seven of the nine Flint city council members attended a meeting at a local church where they discussed the need to get rid of Earley and how to do it.

Earley’s tenure has been marked by frequent disagreements with the city council. He’s implemented deep cuts in the city budget. He’s also made many decisions with little or no input from the city council. 

The Flint City Council wants to strike a deal similar to the one Detroit leaders reached with that city’s emergency manager. Under that deal, Detroit’s emergency manager agreed to cede much of his power to the mayor and city council. 

But that appears unlikely in Flint.

Darnell Earley remains committed to a timetable that won’t see him relinquish power until next year.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley

The Detroit Board of Education recently tried to force out their emergency manager, only to have a judge rule against it. The judge found state law does not allow local government bodies to vote to remove an emergency manager until after their 18-month appointment is up.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling suggests the court ruling may close the door on the city council’s push to remove Darnell Earley. 

“The best we can do for the next few months is work diligently to move Flint forward,” says Walling.

Meanwhile, Flint’s emergency manager continues to work towards his own goal of completing his work by next April.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Flint Mayor Dayne Walling

“Perhaps the efforts of all concerned would be better directed towards working with us to accomplish these goals by the targeted timeline of the end of the first quarter of 2015,” says Jason Lorenz, Flint city spokesman. “This goal has been planned, is being implemented.”

Next month, Flint voters will cast ballots on six city charter changes. Five of the changes would trim the size of city government. The sixth would create a charter change commission, which could propose radical changes to the way Flint is governed. That panel could recommend taking control away from the mayor and city council and give it to a city manager.    

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.
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