Flint

Politics
4:57 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

A conversation with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling

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Dayne Walling was elected to a second term as Flint’s mayor last week, and since then was told his city is facing a financial emergency.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Walling about the situation.

Walling said he has a lot of questions about how things will unfold, and added, "the Governor and Treasurer have pledged for this to be a collaborative process, but I know that can mean a lot of different things to different individuals."

“I’m prepared to play any positive role that I can in this position," said Walling.

Mayor Walling also gave suggestions on how to work with city leaders and residents.

Politics
1:11 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Flint, Michigan gets ready for a state takevoer

Elected leaders in Flint will lose their power once a state-appointed emergency manager takes over.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting ready for a state takeover. The city's re-elected mayor, Dayne Walling and Flint City Council may have no power once a state-appointed emergency manager is in place.

From the Flint Journal:

Today is the deadline for Flint Mayor Dayne Walling to request a hearing on the state's recommendation that an emergency manager take over the city's finances.

And all signs point to an impending state takeover.

Walling said today that he will not request a hearing, and city council members say they're bracing for a takeover.

The Journal reports that the Flint City Council voted against appealing an impending appointment of an emergency manager takeover to the Ingham County Circuit Court.

Mayor Walling told reporters after he was sworn in that he plans on sticking around.

From Steve Carmody's report:

Walling insists Flint city government can move forward with his agenda, despite the looming reality that the governor will soon choose an emergency manager to take over running city government. 

“If this emergency manager is here for a few months…if they are here for a year or two…I look forward to serving my full four year term that I was sworn into today," Walling told reporters after the ceremony.

Walling will be interviewed by Michigan Radio's Jennifer White today. We'll post that interview later.

Politics
2:33 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Flint mayor calls for city to 'pull together'

Flint mayor Dayne Walling addresses a city hall audience after being sworn in for his first full four year term
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling said at his swearing in ceremony that the city should not wait for the appointment of an emergency manager to tackle its crime and economic problems.   

“Now is the time for us to pull forward together," Walling told the city hall audience that had come to see him sworn in for his first full four year term as mayor. Walling has been Flint's mayor for the past two years after winning a special election. 

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Politics
1:01 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Flint mayor sworn into office today

Dayne Walling celebrating a primary victory in August
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor takes his oath of office today. What happens next is up to Governor Snyder. Incumbent Dayne Walling won a four year term as Flint’s mayor last week. He’s already been serving as Flint’s mayor for the past two years, since winning a special election.  

The challenge then was to reduce Flint’s massive budget deficit. The challenge now will probably be to work under a state appointed emergency manager.  

On the same day Walling won reelection, Governor Snyder agreed with a state review team that Flint is in a ‘financial emergency’. The governor is expected to name an emergency manager to run the city.  

Walling has indicated he would work with an emergency manager. Though the mayor is not waiting for an emergency manager to be appointed before he makes any changes.

On Friday, Mayor Walling fired or accepted the resignations of Flint’s top city finance and economic development officials.

Politics
10:44 am
Sat November 12, 2011

"It is time for the city to pursue a new direction"

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election on Tuesday.   

Friday, he started cleaning house.  

On Friday, Walling issued a statement saying he had accepted the resignation of the director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development. He also announced two other DCED employees had been fired. Walling also fired city Finance Director Michael Townsend. 

In a written statement, Walling said “it is time for the city to pursue a new direction with respect to the operations of the Finance Department and the Department of Community and Economic Development”

Walling will be sworn in for his new term as mayor on Monday.   

But also in the coming days, Governor Snyder is expected to formally announce his intention to appoint an emergency manager to run the city of Flint. 

Last week, the governor agreed with a state review team that Flint’s finances require outside management to fix.

Politics
4:40 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Inkster is the latest Michigan city in "financial stress"

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Another Michigan city is moving toward a state takeover.   

The state Treasury Department announced today  that a preliminary review of Inkster’s books shows the city is in "probable financial stress".   

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the city is having trouble solving a multi-million dollar deficit. 

"And the review also found city official have proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner," Stanton says. 

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Politics
12:09 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Flint mayor wins reelection (but may end up losing power)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory.

"Tonight…you can see…that the people of the city of Flint…are behind me and my administration," Walling told a cheering crowd at his victory party last night.   

Dayne Walling celebrated his win last night with jubilant supporters. But they all knew that earlier in the day, Governor Snyder accepted a report that said the city of Flint is in a financial emergency.  

The governor is expected to appoint an emergency manager to run the city. Flint officials could appeal the decision. But Walling says he’s prepared to work with a manager appointed by the governor.   

“I’ll do whatever I can to move our city forward," says Walling, "The people have clearly spoken tonight. It’s been two very difficult years.  But now I have a full four year term. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last two years.”

Walling singled out four city unions that have resisted contract concessions, as part of the reason why Flint is mired in debt.

Election 2011
11:54 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Dayne Walling wins Flint mayoral race in shadow of EM announcement

The person elected as mayor of Flint might not have any power if an emergency manager is appointed.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 11:54 p.m.

Flint mayor Dayne Walling claims victory.

Walling easily won re-election over challenger Darryl Buchanan.

But Walling's victory is tempered by the Governor deciding that the city of Flint is facing a financial emergency.

Governor Snyder will likely name an emergency manager to run the city.   Mayor Walling says he looks forward to working with whoever is appointed.

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Politics
5:35 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Snyder: Financial emergency exists in Flint

Governor Rick Snyder says a financial emergency exists in Flint.

That determination could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager for the city.

"The State's decision shows how serious our financial challenges are in the City of Flint," Mayor Dayne Walling said in a statement. "Significant progress has been made to stabilize the City's finances during a very difficult economy, but without shared sacrifice across the board the City has not been able to implement all of the necessary cost-savings. When some don't share in the sacrifice, we are all forced to bear the burden. With the support of the people, I will continue serve the City of Flint."

The news comes just a few hours before the polls close in Flint.

Challenger Darryl Buchanan issued an appeal to his supporters to continue voting despite the decision.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the election. Sara Wurfel says Snyder got the report this morning and reviewed it with the state treasurer before making the decision that an emergency exists.

The city has seven days to request a hearing to challenge the declaration, and if it does, that hearing would take place Nov. 18.

* An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there are seven candidates in the mayor's race. There are only two - Walling and Buchanan.

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Politics
1:01 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Controversial elections taking place across Michigan today

Steve Carmody Michiganradio

There are several controversial elections taking place in cities and towns around Michigan today.  

A Republican state lawmaker faces a recall vote, spearheaded by the Michigan Education Association. State representative Paul Scott was targeted by the MEA for his support of cuts in state education funding and efforts to weaken the union. Scott tried and failed to get the courts to toss out or delay the recall election.

Voters in Kalamazoo will decide if they want to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a ‘low’ local police priority. Supporters say police should focus on violent crime. The city's Public Safety director says the result of the vote will probably not effect how Kalamazoo police do their job.

In Lansing, voters are deciding if they want to increase their property taxes. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says the millage hike is needed to reduce the chances of future police and fire layoffs.   

“I’m cautiously optimistic.  I’m hopeful.  I’m prayerful….Let’s face it….it’s do or die for us," says Bernero.   

Critics say city leaders are pushing for a millage increase before they truly know if the city will be $12 to $15 million dollars in the hole as predicted. 

Voters in Flint and Jackson are electing mayors today. 

And in Detroit, voters are being asked to approve many changes to their city charter. Supporters say the charter changes would address the city's corruption problems that have lead to numerous investigations, including one which resulted in criminal charges against former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

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Flint
1:44 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Flint budget deficit lower - Good news or 'politically suspect'?

Downtown Flint, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint mayor Dayne Walling said the city’s budget deficit has been cut in half. Walling’s opponent in next week’s election said he doesn’t believe the mayor.  

Mayor Dayne Walling said a just completed review shows Flint finished its last fiscal year $7.34 million in the red. But that’s about half of what was expected ($14.62 million). Walling said it’s a sign budget reforms he’s put in place over the past two years are working.  

"With any changes it takes time to be able to be calculated and assured," said Walling.  

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Flint
3:29 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Review of Flint's city finances gets 30 day extension

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A state team is getting more time to analyze Flint’s city finances.   

The panel’s findings could lead the governor to appoint an emergency manager to run the city.   

The panel’s report was due by the final day of October. But Treasury Department spokesman Terry Stanton says the 8 member team appointed by the governor needed more time to review a few more matters. The governor has granted the review team an additional 30 days. 

Earlier this year, the Treasury Department determined that Flint was in “probable financial stress."  

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Flint
1:01 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Review of Flint's financial health due today

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Today is the deadline Governor Snyder set to complete a review of the city of Flint’s finances.   

When he appointed the financial review panel in September, Governor Snyder said he wanted to hear back from them by the end of October. However, what the governor will hear is unclear. 

As of Friday, a governor’s office spokeswoman said the review team was still analyzing its data. And Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said on Friday he had not heard from the panel since earlier this month.  

The city of Flint is expected to end the current fiscal year more than 10 million dollars in debt. Flint leaders have cut the city’s budget by about a third in recent years, trying to balance rising costs and shrinking tax revenues. 

The financial review panel could recommend a variety of options to the governor. They include giving Flint’s elected leaders more power to deal with budget decisions or handing over power to a state appointed emergency manager. 

Flint city officials have said they hope to avoid a state takeover similar to the one in 2002.

Crime
4:09 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Trying to discourage arson this Halloween weekend in Flint and Detroit

Flint firefighters at work
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Officials in Detroit and Flint will turn to volunteers this weekend to help discourage Halloween-related arson fires.   

Dozens of volunteers are expected to patrol their neighborhoods and man police mini-stations during the weekend.   

Tanya Meeks is the Flint Police Department’s community liaison officer.  She says having extra eyes on the street help.    

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Politics
1:01 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Flint mayoral race may turn on who voters believe can deal with the city's crime problem

Downtown Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint voters will elect a mayor November 8th. In a city beset by high unemployment and questions about how city hall’s being run, crime is a central issue.   

At a recent meeting at the Flint YWCA, about two dozen people met to discuss crime prevention. Dave Beardslee was one of the people at the meeting. He said, right now, leadership is Flint’s main problem.   

“I think they could do something…they could pull the jacket off…roll up their sleeves and get out there with the rest of us. Be a leader. That’s what we need is true leadership," Beardslee said.

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Flint
9:36 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Crime is Flint's biggest problem, mayoral candidates agree

Challenger Darryle Buchanan (left) takes notes as incumbent Dayne walling talks during a mayoral debate Tuesday night in Flint
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The two men running for Flint mayor agree on one thing: Crime is the city’s biggest problem.  

Incumbent Mayor Dayne Walling debated challenger Darryl Buchanan last night.

Flint recently topped the FBI’s violent crime rankings.   Flint has also been called one of the 'Dangerous' cities in America.

Walling says he’s tried to combat Flint’s growing murder and violent crime rates  with federal grants and community involvement.  

“We continue to put officers where they’re most needed.  We’re using new technologies to better respond to the calls that are coming in," says Walling.  

But Buchanan says budget cuts Walling has made to Flint’s police department are to  blame for the rise in violent crime.

"It is statistically significant….that when you reduce the number of police on the streets…that violent crime goes up," says Buchanan. 

During the debate, Buchanan repeatedly referenced comments by Vice President Joe Biden during a visit last week to a Flint fire station.  The vice president talked about how Flint's layoffs of police officers resulted in a rise in violent crime.  

Walling blames the need for deep cuts in flint's budget on poor choices made by previous Flint city leaders, including Darryl Buchanan. 

Last night's debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Urban League.

Changing Gears
12:11 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

A very brief history of the Midwest magic bullet (Part 1)

Memorabilia from the now defunct AutoWorld in Flint.

History is full of the search for magic bullets, those quick tickets to jobs and economic prosperity. Cities across our region have put great hopes and resources into magic bullets.

Some have soared; many have backfired.

This week, we’re bringing you stories of magic bullets past and present. We start with this look back.

Magic bullets are kind of like imaginary friends. We all have them in our past, but most people deny they exist.

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Politics
12:18 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

In Flint, Vice President Biden blasts Congressional Republicans for stalling jobs bill

Vice President Joe Biden is flanked by Flint police officers and firefighters during a speech at one of the city's fire stations
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Vice President Joe Biden used a speech in Flint to chastise Congressional Republicans for stalling the President’s jobs bill.  

 Senate Republicans blocked a procedural vote on the $447 billion bill last night.    The bill’s tax hike on millionaires was a major reason cited.  

The bill contains money for hiring firefighters and police officers. Biden talked about how budget cuts in recent years have slashed the number of police officers and firefighters on Flint streets.  

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Politics
12:47 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Vice President Biden to visit Flint on Wednesday

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Flint, Michigan on Wednesday
Barack Obama Photostream Flickr

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Flint on Wednesday. Biden will use the trip to promote President Obama's jobs plan, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Biden is scheduled to speak midday Wednesday at a fire department building in downtown Flint. The Obama administration says its American Jobs Act would pump $5 billion into supporting jobs for police and firefighters. Flint has laid off over 100 of its first responders over the past three years to deal with budget cuts. The city's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate in August was 11.4 percent, higher than the state rate of 11.2 percent.

Late last month, Governor Snyder appointed an eight member panel to review the city's finances. "The financial review is the first step in a process created under the state's emergency manager law. Governor Snyder has said he hopes an emergency manager is not needed in Flint," Mark Brush reports. The Governor asked the review team to report their findings within 30 days which means we should find out what they have to say by late October.

Flint
8:28 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Flint looking at ways to prevent crime

A banner hanging at last night's public meeting on gun violence in Flint
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Citizens of Flint are talking about ways to reduce their city’s violent crime rate.    It’s all part of a special series of public meetings on crime prevention.   

Flint recently topped a list of the nation’s cities with the worst violent crime rates.    Gun violence is a chief problem.    Police say 90% of Flint’s homicides involve firearms.  

Donna Gallo was among dozens of Flint residents at a special public meeting on violent crime last night.  

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