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Topic: Donna Ashburn-Poplar/City to hire Aonie Gilcreast?
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El Supremo

Flint City Council questions city administrator's hiring practices

Jiquanda Johnson | jjohns16@mlive.com By Jiquanda Johnson | jjohns16@mlive.com

on March 07, 2017 at 5:30 PM

FLINT, MI -- Flint's city administrator faced scrutiny after human resources officials told council members he circumvented city policy when trying to fill an assistant position.

Flint City Administrator Sylvester Jones put forth a resolution late February asking the council to hire Schuyler Davis as his executive assistant under a professional service agreement. The resolution also asked the council to approve a $20.186 per hour salary for Davis, which was to start on Feb. 3 and end a year later.

However, according to human resource employees, the job's classification called for it to be posted, which is not required of a professional service agreement.

"I was told to take it off and cancel the recruitment," said Tia Lewis, human resources and labor relations generalist for Flint.

Lewis said she had no record that Davis was interviewed or if she had taken the necessary tests for the position.

"If she was interviewed, HR, I was not part of the process," Lewis said.

Flint City Council members questioned Jones' intentions during a committee meeting late last month.

"I'd like to know who you spoke to specifically in human resources that told you this was the avenue you should take," said Flint City Councilwoman Monica Galloway to Jones during the meeting. "

Jones said during the committee meeting that he talked to someone in human resources who said he could fill the position with a professional service agreement, but Jones told council members that he couldn't remember who it was he spoke with.

"We had a couple of conversation about this," said Jones. "From my understanding, the position was, if it was to be classified, it was to be posted. If it was not to be classified, then it was not required to go through that process."

Councilman Scott Kincaid said it was a move preventing others from applying to the position.

"They are taking the posting down and employees in the city of Flint can't apply for that position, and the reason they are doing it is so they don't have to go through the process," Kincaid said of the administration.

Davis has worked for Flint since 2016, but her temporary employment status is set to end.

Jones also said that the position initially came before council in 2016 as an appointment, and the administration was then told it would count against the number of appointees allocated to the mayor. The decision was made to remove the position and now it is back before the council.

"I've spoken to a number of people in HR and this appointment goes ... This happened months ago, I'm not sure exactly who I spoke with ... Our intent is not to circumvent the system," said Jones. "Our intent is to work closely with HR and do things based on HR rules."

The executive assistant to the city administrator job was left open when Sean Kammer resigned in March 2016 during a meeting with Jones and Aonie Gilcreast, who serves as Mayor Karen Weaver's advisor.

City Human Resource Director CharlesMcClendon wrote a letter saying Kammer's job performance was discussed in front of Gilcreast, who is not a City of Flint employee.

Flint City Council members want to know how much influence one of the mayor's advisors has at City Hall.

"Mr. Gilcreast was present, wherein Mr. Kammer's job performance was discussed," wrote McClendon in a May 16, 2016 letter. "The meeting became contentious and resulted in Mr. Kammer resigning that day, March 31, 2016."

Council members put in a number of referral requests, including asking the legal department to provide them with the city's policies on nepotism and cronyism, human resources employee structure and an inventory of appointee positions within the city.

"I think there should ... always be a time when the council looks for (the) truth," said Councilman Herbert Winfrey of Jones' decision. "He's trying to make a point here that he's not trying to override precedence and we should not just walk over that."

The council voted not to move ahead with the resolution seeking to hire Davis. It is not yet known if Jones will continue to seek to fill the position.
Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:33 pm 
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El Supremo

The council needs to address the form of these PSA's as they did in the past. The City Attorney should know the PSA does not allow for open ended employment. The form usually is limited to $20,000 or a time limit. Schuler Davis worked as a temporary employee since 2016 without going through any process by Human Relations. This is a blatant attempt to circumvent the prescribed employment rules. I have to admit Kincaid is absolutely right. Watch for it a showdown is coming!
Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:38 pm 
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El Supremo

Recall language approved to remove Flint Mayor Karen Weaver

Jake May | jmay2@mlive.com

Jiquanda Johnson | jjohns16@mlive.com By Jiquanda Johnson | jjohns16@mlive.com
on March 08, 2017 at 3:12 PM, updated March 08, 2017 at 5:12 PM

Language approved to launch recall efforts against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver

FLINT, MI -- Language has been approved to launch recall efforts against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

The Genesee County Election Commission voted Wednesday, March 8, to approve recall language submitted by Flint resident Art Woodson to recall Weaver over the city's controversial trash issue.

Woodson started his recall efforts late January, but withdrew his first language after saying he met with Weaver to talk about some of his concerns with the administration.

Woodson says promises at the meeting weren't kept, so he moved forward with submitting new language on Feb. 28 to recall the city's leader.

"I'm happy that they allowed us, the people, to be heard, and we were allowed and approved through recall language. Now it's up to us to get the signatures from the residents of Flint and do what we need to do."

Weaver has not confirmed if she met with Woodson, but did say she has Flint's best interest at heart.

"My goal is, and has always been, to do what is in the best interests of the citizens and the City of Flint," Weaver said in a March 8 statement. "I will continue to fight for the people of Flint and do my job for the people of Flint and do my job as I have been since being elected 16 months ago."

To have the recall placed on the ballot, Woodson needs to collect signatures from residents equal to or more than 25 percent of the city turnout from the last governor's election.

City clerk Inez Brown was not immediately available to comment on that total.

This was the fourth time language was submitted to remove Weaver. In addition to Woodson's two submissions, Flint Resident Alex Harris submitted language twice to start recall efforts.

Harris' language was rejected twice by the Election Commission. Harris said he had nothing to do with Woodson's language, but he agrees with the recall efforts.

"It's about time," said Harris of the language approval. "Now there's a proper venue for the citizens of Flint to determine if it should be on the ballot. The language that I presented previously was not given proper consideration. I had a strong objection to the way they handled themselves. I think Judge Barkey in particular, but Barkey, Cherry and Gleason did a great disservice in understanding the recall process."

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason, County Treasurer Deb Cherry and Probate Judge Jennifer Barkey sit on the Election Commission.

"The issue we have to decide is whether the language is clear, whether or not the language is factual...whether the language is true," Barkey said.

Attorney Kendall Williams, who represented Weaver, argued that the contract was non-existent because of a legal technicality regarding a lawsuit against Weaver and her administration and eight Flint City Council members.

"In this particular instance, the petition language is not true," Williams said. "At the time this particular document was prepared there was an order issued by (Genesee County Circuit Court judge Joseph Farah) and the case that was brought by the Flint City Council."

Williams said because of that order the contract was not valid.

Woodson's language read:

"Mayor Karen Weaver, on signed September 22, 2016 signed an emergency waste collection contract with Rizzo Environmental Service(s)," reads the language filed with the Genesee County Clerk's Office on Feb. 24.

His initial language submitted read as follows:

"Mayor Karen Weaver used the emergency purchase waste collection services to give a contract to Rizzo Environmental Service(s), while signing an extension with Republic Waste Services, causing the tax payers to pay two waste collection services."

Woodson, who was threatened with a lawsuit by Rizzo in July 2016, then argued that because a Genesee County judge had an order in place for the city to continue using Republic Waste Services to haul Flint's trash there was no real trash emergency.

In October 2016, it was reported that Rizzo Environmental Services was under federal investigation for bribery and corruption. Since then, at least three officials have been arrested and charged in Macomb and Clinton townships.

Shortly after the October investigation made news, Weaver and the city council settled their ongoing garbage dispute and decided to continue contracting with Republic Services to haul Flint's trash.

Weaver will still be able to appeal the decision in court. If the language makes it through court, Woodson will still have the task of getting enough signatures to move forward with putting Weaver's recall on the ballot.
Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:14 pm 
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El Supremo

Documents show Flint planned to pay mayoral advisor $120K a year

Print Email Jiquanda Johnson | jjohns16@mlive.com By Jiquanda Johnson | jjohns16@mlive.com

on March 13, 2017 at 7:00 AM, updated March 13, 2017 at 11:18 AM

FLINT, MI -- Efforts have been made to put a key volunteer adviser to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on the city's payroll since as early as January.

To date, however, those attempts have been unsuccessful.

A series of emails, letters and a professional service agreement show Weaver had plans to hire Aonie Gilcreast as her Chief Adviser with an annual salary of more than $100,000 plus benefits with funds from the state, according to documents obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal from a Freedom of Information Act request.

"The City of Flint has determined a need to bring in one additional staff person/advisor in the Mayor's office to assist the Mayor in handling various Flint water crisis issues and other City operating issues that indirectly occur in the City due to the water crisis," read a Jan. 31, 2017 letter from Flint's Interim Finance Director David Sabuda to State Senior Policy Advisor Larry Steckelberg. "This new advisor (sic) would start employment on the earliest date possible but no sooner than 2/1/2017. Funding would end one year later from date of hire. This position would work at the pleasure of the Mayor."

The Jan. 31 letter does not name Gilcreast but his name later appeared on a resolution, a professional service agreement and a series of emails between Sabuda and Interim City Attorney Angela Wheeler regarding his employment.

Gilcreast, who spearheaded Weaver's campaign, was set to receive $52.50 per hour. Documents show that Gilcreast was to receive an annual pay of $109,200 a year with an employer contribution of $10,800 annually for benefits totaling $120,000.

Flint City Council members want to know how much influence one of the mayor's advisors has at City Hall.

Weaver said in an unrelated Feb. 15, 2016, press conference at city hall that dedicated volunteers need to be paid.

"If we have people that have volunteered their time and played a vital role lets get them," Weaver said. "People who've put that kind of time in I think should get paid... We have a skeleton staff. Our staffing was disseminated as the result of (an) emergency manager and I think the state ought to be helping us rebuild capacity as well."

Other volunteers including Fast Start program Manager Michael McDaniel have been put on the payroll after volunteering to help Flint find solutions for the city's water crisis.

Weaver could not be reached for comment for this story.

Gilcreast, a former club owner who says he still owns rental property in the city, typically comes to City Council meetings with or without the mayor, sits in on committee meetings, has been part of city business including Flint's controversial trash dispute.

The Flint Journal could not reach Gilcreast for comment but in July 2016 he said he was a volunteer for the city.

"I am just a volunteer," said Gilcreast in July. "I'm no different than any other volunteer at city hall."

He declined to elaborate on his role with the city but said he is Weaver's "key" advisor but said he worked as Weaver's campaign manager and helped her win the election.

In addition to being a local businessman, Gilcreast said he has been involved in politics and worked campaigns Flint's first black elected mayor Jim Sharp, former mayor, Woodrow Stanley and Darryl Buchanan who lost the mayor's race to Walling in 2011.

Council members are questioning the use of professional service agreements saying Weaver's administration is trying to circumvent city policies to put people in positions at city hall after they were vocal about not paying Gilcreast.

"This is cronyism," said Councilwoman Kate Fields. "This is cronyism pure and simple. It's bad for the city and the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for that. If council has anything to do with it the taxpayers will not pay for that with their state tax dollars or their city tax dollars."

Fields put in a number of referrals in 2016 asking what Gilcreast's role is with the city.

A 2016 email from City Administrator Sylvester Jones to Fields said Gilcreast was a volunteer for the city of Flint. He has volunteered as the mayor's adviser for 16 months.

"We know from talking to HR there is a (volunteer) procedure down at city hall," Fields said. "He has to be vetted. Part of vetting is criminal background check."

The professional service agreement was never signed and never made it before Flint City Council for approval.

Council President Kerry Nelson said he did not know a professional service agreement had been drafted for Gilcreast but has said he does not support paying the mayor's advisor.

In addition, Councilman Scott Kincaid says the chief advisor's post duplicates the chief of staff position held by Steve Branch.

"Mayors have always had a chief of staff," Kincaid who has served on the council for more than 30 years. "This has been an appointed staff position. Steve Branch is basically an adviser to the mayor. That's the position that mayors have all had in the past. The administration wants to do professional service contracts for everybody. They are trying to circumvent city policies to put people in positions at city hall."

Council members discussed their concerns with professional service contracts in a March 8, 2016, meeting and also addressed concerns in a February committee meeting regarding a resolution set forth by City Administrator Sylvester Jones to fill an assistant's position.

Gov. Rick Snyder's spokeswoman Anna Heaton confirmed the state got word Weaver wants to put Aonie Gilcreast on the city's payroll.

"Professional service agreements are typically used for temporary positions," said Kincaid.

Gilcreast's three-page professional service agreement outlined details including paying him bi-weekly and giving him limited benefits.

"Never in this lifetime will I ever support an atrocity such as that," said Councilman Jackie Poplar. It makes me wonder are they on drugs ... He's not qualified and she has enough staff and nothing is being done with the staff she has. You have a city administrator, you have a chief of staff and you have you. When is the triangle going to start working."
Post Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:15 pm 
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El Supremo

When Steve branch was hired, the Journal stated it as a new position. I never saw this position in the staff meetings and it is not in the charter. The mayor only gets 10 major appointees and 10 smaller appointees for a total of 20. Actually the proposed Gilcreast role seems closer to the City Manager.
Post Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:25 pm 
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El Supremo

Social media has posted that Joyce McClane, Genesee County Road Commission Director of Purchasing went to the Genesee county Board Meeting to complain about Donna Poplar in her role as Genesee County Road Commission Human resources Director.

MCClane also complained about a $1,000,000 in purchasing that allegedly circumvented the purchasing policy.

Since then, participants on the AC Dumas radio talk show have suggested attacks on Poplar. Polar has been vocal at Flint City Council meetings against the Weaver administration.

Pastor Overton is a fervent supporter of Mayor Weaver. He and his wife Melissa both contributed the maximum $2,000 to Weaver's campaign. He complains about outsiders but his address is in Flint Township and his church is in Monroe.
Mellisa Overton is a bank executive with Fifth third bank in Ohio and directs Community Reinvestment Act funding (CRA).

I keep hearing that Flint is planning another "Black Wall Street" centered in Flint's north end.
Post Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:58 am 
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El Supremo

Not many people attended the last city council meeting, but those who watched it online and on tv are talking about how our Flint Clerk set the record straight. Council did not approve the Skillman grant because it was not in writing and not explained. My understanding is the grant is for youth activities. Where, how, and is there a match or other requirements.

Council would have been ignoring their obligation for "due diligence" if they passed a resolution with no details on what they were approving.!
Post Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:33 pm 
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El Supremo

Does the City Administrator even know how to do the job? The Clerk has explained to him about how to do a resolution, but it doesn't always happen. The mayor and her supporters get furious when council follows the policies and procedures of a responsible government body.

Should we kick all of the council out in the upcoming elections? Or are we willing to believe new council will not become rubber stamps and understand how council works.
Post Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:39 pm 
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