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Topic: Why Flint grants administration failed
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Highlights of testimony from Flint City Council investigative hearing on grant spending
Print Email Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com By Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com

on November 23, 2011 at 11:06 AM, updated November 23, 2011 at 11:32 AM
FLINT, Michigan -- The Flint City Council questioned five witnesses at Tuesday's investigative hearing on a $1.1 million energy grant that was terminated for "mismanagement" alleged by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Many of the questions were directed at Kate Fields, CEO of Advanced Solutions Group, which had a $250,000 consulting contract with the city for the $1.1 million energy grant.

The city is appealing the termination, and the demand that $214,000 of the grant be repaid. The termination of the grant led city council members to call the hearing.

The majority of the funds questioned by the department of energy are related to Advanced Solutions Group. Nearly $164,000 of the costs by Advanced Solutions Group and about $51,000 in costs by the city of Flint were identified by the department of energy to be unallowable, unsupported or unresolved, according to the letter.

In her testimony, Fields said the city of Flint did "next to nothing" to follow and implement the plan she wrote, which was approved by the department of energy. She also said she believed the city was spending grant funds on activities that had not been pre-approved by the feds.

As for the money she was paid, Fields said she has supporting documentation for all of her expenditures and doesn't know what costs the department is referring to in the letter because she hasn't spoken with the department of energy.

"I don't really know why in the termination letter they're making those allegations or statements," she said. "I would like to."

Council members asked Fields to submit her documentation for a later hearing.

Fields was paid nearly $250,000 to prepare an energy efficiency and conservation strategy, which was submitted to the department of energy in December 2009 and resulted in the city being awarded the balance of the $1.1 million grant in March 2010.

Fields was not the lowest bidder to submit a proposal to prepare the strategy, but said she believes she was the "lowest responsible bidder," which is the language used in federal regulations, she said. The Flint City Council approved her contract in September 2009, she said.

Council members questioned the funds Fields was paid in light of the allegations in the letter from the department of energy.

"If you were the most responsible bidder, it doesn't look that way," Councilman Bryant Nolden said.

Fields said the letter has inaccuracies.

"I don't think the city would have had any problems with this grant, if they'd simply implemented the projects," she said.

Council members also took testimony from the city's Green Coordinator Steve Montle, who said he was responsible for doing some administrative work on implementing the grant.

Montle and the city's grants manager, Tracy Atkinson, were among several employees paid for in part with funds from the grant, they testified.

Montle said none of the city's grant projects had been completed by the time the grant was suspended by federal investigators, but at least one was on its way to being done and several others were in the process.

Montle said he brought a recycling proposal that would have been grant funded to the council during the last year, but the council voted it down. Councilman Joshua Freeman said it was a deviation from the energy grant plan.

Atkinson, who oversaw implementation of the grant for the city, said she was surprised when the grant was suspended. She said her work on the grant had been "frustrating" because she wasn't able to get information she needed from city officials to submit reports on time to the department of energy.

Karen Morris, a former employee of the city, testified that she filed a complaint about potential grant violations in May 2010 with the city, which was later forwarded to the city's legal department. She said she also voiced her concerns to the department of energy.

Morris filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city after she was fired Nov. 11.

Lastly, council members questioned City Attorney Peter Bade about the termination letter from the department of energy. Bade denied the existence of the Oct. 27 letter to Councilman Sheldon Neeley in a phone call last week.

Bade said the letter was confidential under attorney-client privilege because the city was appealing the energy department's findings. He said he released the letter soon after the conversation after reviewing the matter.

Neeley, however, disagreed that the letter was confidential. Freeman said the letter should have been divulged.

"In my opinion, you lied to Councilman Neeley," Freeman said. "By doing that, you denied him his ability or us as a body our ability to perform our functions."

As the city attorney, Bade said he had an obligation to protect the city's legal position.

"I have certain legal duties," he said. "I have no problem as a lawyer protecting the confidences of my client."
Post Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:59 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Flint City Council investigative hearing to focus on grant spending
Print Email Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com By Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com

on November 16, 2011 at 10:27 AM
FLINT, Michigan The Flint City Council will hold an investigative hearing on city grant spending next week after recently learning federal officials canceled a $1.1 million energy grant more than two weeks ago.

Councilman Sheldon Neeley called for the hearing after accusing the city attorney of withholding information on the energy grant termination from the council.

In an Oct. 27 letter to the city, more than a week before the mayoral election, the U.S. Department of Energy alleged "serious mismanagement and misuse" of the grant funds and demanded that $214,991 of the money be repaid by the end of November.


Neeley said he asked the administration last week whether there had been any communication from federal officials regarding the grant, but was told by City Attorney Peter Bade that there was none.
The letter is a public document and should have been disclosed, Neeley said.

"We need to do an investigation with all of our grants to find out what's going on," Neeley said.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling on Monday said the letter was not made public when the city received it last month because the city is treating it as a legal matter.

Bade said the city is appealing the findings in the letter under the process laid out in federal regulations.

"The DOE letter was not initially made public because doing so may have compromised the city's legal position, particularly as it relates to the DOE's allegations of wrongdoing," Bade said in an email. "The City Attorney is not in the practice of making any legal documents public that may harm the city's interests."

Bade said the energy department's final grant determination could change following the city's appeal.

"We are working hard to get this grant program back on line," he said.

The hearing is scheduled to immediately follow the city council's next committee meetings, which start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Post Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:02 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

City attorney, council members have heated debate at investigative hearing
Print Email Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com By Kristin Longley |
on November 22, 2011 at 10:06 PM, updated November 22, 2011 at 11:35 PM
FLINT, Michigan -- Flint City Council members and the city attorney faced off at the council's investigative hearing tonight, as City Attorney Peter Bade requested some witnesses not answer certain questions about the city's energy grant in public.

Bade several times throughout the four-hour hearing told council members that questions about the U.S. Department of Energy's termination of a $1.1 million grant would have to be asked in executive session, which would be closed to the public.

Bade said that because the city is appealing the termination, it is a legal matter and subject to attorney-client privilege.

Several council members were unhappy with that decision.

"What a waste of time," Councilman Michael Sarginson said. "We can't get nobody to answer questions... We are not getting information."

Councilman Sheldon Neeley requested that portions of the testimony be forwarded to a judge for a legal review.

"I believe Mr. Bade is seriously, seriously in conflict here," he said.

Bade said he doesn't have a problem with the questions council members were asking, but doesn't want them answered in a public setting.

"That would have a detrimental effect on the legal position of the city," he said.
Post Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:04 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Former finance director suing city of Flint under Whistleblower Act
Print Email Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com By Kristin Longley | klongley1@mlive.com
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on December 22, 2011 at 3:02 PM, updated December 22, 2011 at 3:03 PM
FLINT, Michigan The mayors former finance director is suing the city, claiming he was fired for telling state officials the truth about Flints dire financial situation.

Michael A. Townsend filed the lawsuit in Genesee County Circuit Court under the Whistleblowers Protection Act.

Townsend was fired by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling on Nov. 11, a few days after a state review panel declared Flint in a financial emergency and recommended a state takeover of the citys finances.

Townsends attorney, Tom Pabst, said the suit claims Townsend was terminated because he supplied records to the state in August showing Flint was facing a cash flow shortage. The shortage was one of several reasons cited by the state review for the financial emergency status.

He showed them a document saying, Were going to run out of cash by November, Pabst said. His bosses were really angry with him.

City Attorney Peter Bade and Flint Mayor Dayne Walling declined to comment Wednesday on the pending lawsuit.

Pabst said the lawsuit also cites a previous alleged dispute between Townsend and Gregory Eason, who had been city administrator but was fired by emergency manager Michael Brown this month.

While both men still were city employees, the lawsuit claims, the city administrator asked Townsend to show racial favoritism to a black city vendor who hadnt filed his proper proof of insurance with the city, but Townsend refused.

He wasnt willing to do that, Pabst said. Hes an honest guy.

Eason could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Townsend is seeking damages of more than $25,000, according to the lawsuit.

His is one of a wave of whistle-blower lawsuits filed against the city in recent months.

Three former employees fired from the Department of Community and Economic Development also filed whistle-blower suits, saying they were let go for reporting about irregularities in federal grant spending before federal officials terminated the citys $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for what they called mismanagement.
Post Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:07 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Flint settles Whistleblower lawsuit with former city employee for $250,000
Print Email Jeremy Allen | jallen42@mlive.com By Jeremy Allen | jallen42@mlive.com
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on May 17, 2013 at 6:15 PM, updated May 17, 2013 at 7:38 PM


FLINT, MI The city of Flint reached a settlement with a former employee and will pay $250,000 for wrongful termination, loss of wages, emotional distress/mental anguish and loss of professional reputation, according to a statement from the employee's attorney, Tom Pabst.

Michael Townsend, a longtime employee in the citys finance department, settled his Whistleblower Protection Act lawsuit after he claimed to have been fired for cooperating with a state investigation.

In 2011, Townsend was requested by the State of Michigan to provide a report to the state concerning the Flints financial status and the progress that was being made.

After providing the state with a report, state representatives requested that Townsend and Flint Mayor Dayne Walling travel to Lansing and participate in a hearing about the report.

Townsends lawyers said that at the hearing, when asked direct questions, Townsend answered truthfully and was chastised by Walling for doing so.

Townsend was fired a short time following the hearing and said that he was simply performing his job and upholding his civic and patriotic duty to the city and the state.

Just after Townsends firing, an emergency financial manager was appointed by the state to run Flint.

The case, which was to be heard by Judge Geoffrey Neithercut in Genesee County Circuit Court, settled shortly before trial for $250,000, Pabst said.
Walling, who just recently returned from a conference in Atlanta Friday afternoon, referred all questions about the case to the city.

Assistant City Attorney John Postulka, who was the attorney on the case for the city, did not immediately return phone calls.

City Attorney Peter Bade was also unavailable for comment.
Post Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:11 pm 
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