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State oversight board restores power to Flint City Council

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Members of the RTAB board vote to restore power to the Flint City Council.

A state oversight board is giving the Flint City Council its power back.

The council’s powers have been limited since the Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to run Flint back in 2011. For much of the past four years, the nine City Council members have had little real authority at City Hall.

But today, the Receivership Transition Advisory Board repealed order  No. 3, which reinstates the powers afforded to the City Council by Flint’s city charter.

Council President Kerry Nelson says the board can now be an equal partner with the mayor at City Hall.

“I believe we can work together. I believe it’s going to be a success,” says Nelson. “Is it going to be a cakewalk? No. Because we are going to really have to extend the olive branch … sit down at the table and do things together.”

Even before the RTAB’s vote, the City Council and Mayor Karen Weaver were having some issues getting along.

Sylvester Jones is Flint’s city administrator.  He says council members have “resented” the mayor getting her powers restored months ago.

“It stood in the way of the administration and the council having productive dialogue,” says Jones, who also is optimistic that with its powers restored the City Council will now be able to work better with the mayor.

Not everyone agrees. 

RTAB board member Michael Townsend worries that a dysfunctional relationship between the mayor and City Council could result in a “three-peat" – in other words falling into state receivership for a third time.

But RTAB member Michael Finney is more optimistic.

“I expect things are going to go smoothly,” says Finney. “I think the City Council has communicated a willingness to work and the administration has communicated a willingness.”

The state oversight board did reserve the right to take the council’s powers away again in 90 days, if things at Flint City Hall aren’t working out.  

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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