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Flint City Council divided on discussing water crisis litigation in open or closed session

City Council members divided when deciding if they should discuss details of water litigation in a closed session
Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 11:35 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (11/11/2020) - As details start to emerge about a settlement of civil lawsuits in the Flint Water Crisis. there is a dispute. How will that information get out to the people who lived through the crisis.

On Monday, Flint City Council was one vote short of discussing those details behind closed doors. On Thursday, they’re expected to take the issue up again, which some council members say could leave city residents in the dark.

There are a lot of reasons people in the city of Flint want to hear every detail of the possible settlements of the civil lawsuits related to the Flint water crisis: money they could be entitled to because of health concerns, property damage, and even refunds for water bills on water they could not use.

“Everyone should get an amount no matter if they can prove harm or not because it affected us and not just money-wise but the worry and stress of I have to have my kids tested. Do they have lead poisoning? Is this going to affect them?” 9th Ward Councilwoman Eva Worthing said.

Worthing says that worry families went through deserves compensation. Attorney Loyst Fletcher says there is a lawsuit. One with a price tag of about $29 million that could possibly reimburse residents for paying good money for bad water.

“My fight will be to make sure before all the money is spent and settled that everybody who was affected can have some form of compensation," 1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays said.

City Council members are on the same page about that, but when deciding if they should discuss the details of any water litigation in a closed session, they’re divided.

“If I or any council person go in executive session, they cut themselves off from communicating particulars to the residents,” Mays said.

In a closed session, council members are required to sign a confidentiality agreement where they cannot leak any details of the session, and that’s a problem for Mays.

“It’s imperative to me to be able to talk freely to inform the residents of their legal options," Mays said.

However, Worthing says executive session is simply just going in and listening to information

“I wish that some of my council members would understand please, at least vote to go into executive session because if you don’t want to be there, fine, but let the rest of us get the information we need, so we can vote properly," Worthing said.

Regardless of the decision on any water litigation, all actions like a vote must be done in an open setting.

“The fact that there are council members preventing the rest of us from going into executive session by not voting to go into it means we all vote blindly, and that’s not fair to us or the city," Worthing said.

Flint City Council will meet Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Stick with ABC12 for more details on this developing story.

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