Council pumps the brakes on plans to appoint new Flint interim CFO
Updated on September 26, 2017 at 12:20 PM Posted on September 26, 2017 at
By Oona Goodin-Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
FLINT, MI - Flint, the city with the nation's highest poverty rate for its size, may now have to wait another month to fill its vacant chief financial officer position.
In a 5-3 vote on Monday, Sept. 25, Flint City Council opted to postpone the hiring of Hughey Newsome, Mayor Karen Weaver's appointee for interim CFO, until after the mayoral recall election on Nov. 7.
The position has remained vacant since the city's year-long contract ended with David Sabuda in June, with deputy finance director Dawn Steele pulling double duty and performing some of the role's responsibilities in the meantime.
While Newsome - a former senior manager for MorganFranklin Consulting in Washington, D.C., living in West Bloomfield - told the council in an impassioned speech late Monday night that he was ready to serve Flint's financial strategy, council questioned the idea of signing off on a year-long contract with Weaver's appointee when the mayor's position is up for grabs in the November recall election.
Unlike previous mayoral recalls, in which an initial election to recall the office was followed by another election to fill the seat, the process is now condensed into one vote on November 7.
"We don't know what's going to happen in November," said Fourth Ward Councilwoman Kate Fields, who put forth the motion to postpone Newsome's approval. "His contract is for almost a year. I don't think that's fair for anyone who may be elected to have a CFO who they did not appoint."
Interim City Attorney Angela Wheeler explained that Newsome's roughly $133,120 proposed yearly contract includes a clause noting that he can be terminated without severance, but council had other questions regarding Newsome's qualifications.
"Whether this motion passes or not, Councilman Nelson will not approve it," said Council President Kerry Nelson. "We cannot get people who live in Flint to do Flint jobs. They cannot pay taxes here, then they run back down 75. I think he's a wonderful person, but Mr. Newsome cannot vote for me. He doesn't live in Flint."
Fields added that she felt the council was being rushed into a decision, as Newsome's resume was distributed to members at 4:30 p.m. the day of the vote. She noted that the Harvard MBA grad had "not even served a day in municipal finance."
"This organization has a history of hiring people with no experience in what they do," Fields said, adding that managing finances for a city is much different than working for private corporations.
Newsome, a Stanford and Harvard graduate with financial experience in the private sector, said he was recommended for the position by Rich Baird, Gov. Rick Snyder's top aide. Addressing the council on Monday, he said his immediate appointment was important in order to alleviate some of the burden on Flint's understaffed financial department.
"You do need a diversity, in my humble opinion, in the public and private sector experience in government ... to make sure we're incorporating the best practices," Newsome said. "You talk about waiting, you talk about finding the perfect candidate ... but if this is about politics, you're not doing the city a service by having all these unfilled positions."
First Ward Councilman Eric Mays - who, along with Monica Galloway and Herbert Winfrey opposed postponing Newsome's appointment - suggested that the move to keep Newsome, who is African-American, out of office was based on his race.
"We got in a financial situation by not having financial people here," Mays said. "I've seen that the RTAB is getting ready to leave the city and I want to do everything possible to make that happen ... Miss Fields is pre-judging him because he's a brother."
Fields denied that her comments were based on race, instead emphasizing that municipal finance credentials were missing from Newsome's resume.
Galloway, of the Seventh Ward, said it was important to "recognize talent when talent is before us."
"We push for the retention of young people," Galloway said. "When you've got a strong team and you've got someone who's educated, it doesn't matter where they live ... Accounting is still accounting in most places."
She also noted that she had discussed the appointment with both Steele and Newsome, and that Steele said she was not overlooked for the position as she didn't have the qualifications for the job.
Tensions around Newsome's appointment began to brew within the council last week at a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 20, when Newsome's name appeared on some of the city's financial resolutions before he had been approved by council for the job.
The city charter dictates that certain executive appointees - including the CFO position - must be approved by council before taking the post.
Wheeler explained Wednesday that the seemingly contradictory language in an emergency manager order and the city's charter led the administration to believe they could bring Newsome in without council approval before realizing their mistake, saying that the city was working as quickly as possible to rectify the situation.
Newsome's contract - which began on Sept. 18, a week before his approval was brought to council - proposes a bi-weekly salary of $64 per hour through June 30, 2018, totaling roughly $133,120 year, which is identical to Sabuda's wages. Weaver's post pays $91,801 annually, including the cost of benefits.
Flint's new finance director to earn more than city's mayor
Flint City Council approved hiring a new director of finance whose hourly wage could exceed Mayor Karen Weaver's salary annually.
After the council put his position on ice for the next month, Newsome said he needed to discuss his options with his wife and children before moving forward.
A spokesperson from Weaver's office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:32 pm
|Hughey Newsome - National Center for Public Policy Research
Biography of Hughey Newsome of the Project 21 African-American conservative network.
Biography of Hughey Newsome of the Project 21 African-American conservative network
Speakers Bureau: Hughey Newsome
Hughey NewsomeHughey P. Newsome is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. He is a member of the MoveOnUp.org black political network and has his own blog called The Objective Citizen (theobjectivecitizen.com).
Hughey received an MS degree from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard Business School (where he also interned at the Pentagon in the U.S. Air Force's Finance and Cost Accounting Office). A specialist in financial issues, he has previously worked for AT Kearney, Chrysler Financial Services and CGN and Associates (where he worked on assignments for multinational Fortune 500 clients in Belgium and China).
Newsome currently serves as a consultant for MorganFranklin in McLean, Virginia and has his own consulting firm, EGE-squared.
Sample of Public Appearances by Hughey Newsome:
On RT Network's "The Big Picture," Hughey points out that there are, in fact, conservative alternatives to ObamaCare (1/15/16)
On One America News Network's "The Rick Amato Show," Hughey contrasts Obama's foreign policy as president and as senator (9/22/14)
On the Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier," Hughey says solid families and a good education are what really levels the playing field in the employment market (1/24/14)
On the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "Power and Politics," Hughey offers constructive advice on America's race problem following the not-guilty verdict of George Zimmerman (7/19/13)
Publications by Hughey Newsome:
Audit the Fed, but Be Careful Who Gets That Power (March 2015)
How to Make Media Coverage of Race a Force for Unity (December 2014)
How Liberals Use the False Myth of Voter Suppression to Rally Support – But at the Expense of Better Race Relations (November 2014)
Learn from the NFL: the Free Market Works (October 2014)
Buffett's Money Walks Different from the Way He Talks (October 2014)
Economic Lessons from Egypt: Grow the Economic Pie Instead of Subsidizing It (August 2014)
The Secretary of Education Should Put His Money Where His Mouth is on Teacher Tenure Reform (June 2014)
A Flat GDP is Much More Important than Donald Sterling (May 2014)
Even Obama Can Be Accused of Voter Suppression (April 2014)
There Should Be Repercussions if Taxes Aren't Spent Wisely (April 2014)
Disproportionate Definitions of "Disproportionate" (March 2014)
If I Were a Liberal (March 2014)
Dr. King's Legacy and the 21st Century (January 2014)
A Deeper Dive into Melissa Harris-Perry's "Apology" (January 2014)
Inequitable Arguments about Income Inequality (December 2013)
Oh, SNAP: What They Forget to Say About Food Stamp Cuts (November 2013)
Too Big for One Man, or Just Obama? (November 2013)
The President's Portfolio of Fearmongering (October 2013)
Racial Hypocrisy's Real Consequence: It Moves Us Away from Solutions (September 2013)
Division-Dealing a Denial of Duty (August 2013)
The Hard Truths Revealed by the Trayvon Tragedy (July 2013)
Politics and Pawns (January 2013)
All Politics Should Be Local (January 2013)
Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:35 pm