FLINT, MI — City Council members took the gavel away from Vice President Ladel Lewis during their meeting on Monday, Sept. 18, replacing her as the chair of the council for at least one meeting.
Lewis, who represents the city’s 2nd Ward, presided over meetings last week in which the council acted on no resolutions, eventually losing quorum as the sessions turned into debates over parliamentary rules, repeated objections to her rulings, and continuations of lingering feuds among members.
Lewis got the blame for those failed meetings and for a slow start during Monday’s special meeting as the council’s usual voting patterns shifted and only Lewis and Candice Mushatt (Ward 7) voted for her to continue as chair.
The council has had no president since the July 1 resignation of Allie Herkenroder, an action that gave Lewis the responsibility of chairing regular council meetings. Rules call for the council to appoint a new president during an annual organizational meeting on Nov. 13.
Lewis defended her actions in running council meetings on Monday, saying she has consistently applied meeting rules to all members but found herself under fire from what she called a ”gang attack” Monday.
“I have the courage and audacity to carry out these rules,” she said, causing her to face criticism from her political adversaries, particularly 1st Ward Councilmen Eric Mays, who has repeatedly appealed Lewis’ rulings.
Mays said Monday that Lewis has attempted to bully him with warnings during meetings, and 8th Ward Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer said Lewis’ demeanor has caused “too much conflict with your colleagues” for her to continue.
“You are the reason we cannot get business done … ruling with an iron fist,” Pfeiffer said. “We can’t move forward with you being chair … Every meeting you have chaired has been utter chaos.”
Lewis remained at Monday’s meeting after she was replaced as chair by 4th Ward Councilwoman Judy Priestley and some council members defended her, saying she’s been attempting to moderate meetings in a hostile environment.
9th Ward Councilwoman Eva Worthing, who left the meeting before the vote on removing Lewis as chair, said her political enemies were wrongly blamed her for conflicts they created.
Monday’s special meeting had been called to handle unfinished city business from last week.
Several of the resolutions were passed by the council after Lewis was replaced on Monday, but resolutions calling for the suspensions of 3rd Ward Councilman Quincy Murphy and Lewis for alleged charter violations failed to gain enough votes for approval.
Murphy and Lewis each voted to grant a $72-million brownfield tax reimbursement to Ashley Capital, the company that’s broken ground to redevelop the old Buick City site, despite having close ties to nonprofit groups that received gifts from the company.
Murphy was given possession of an $11,000 lawn mower that had been gifted by the company to Genesee County Habitat for Humanity. The Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association, which Lewis founded, also received $1,500 from Ashley for a Halloween event.
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