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Frustrated with Lansing City Council, a group of residents form ‘The People’s Council’

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Courtesy, The People's Council of Lansing
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Dozens of Lansing residents gathered on July 21 at The Fledge to create a new advocacy group called The People's Council.

Citing a failure in transparency and accountability from Lansing’s City Council, a group of residents have formed ‘The People’s Council.’

Co-founder Michael Lynn Jr. said The People’s Council is a direct response to frustration that’s been brewing for some time. He said advocacy groups haven’t been able to get city council members to listen to their needs.

“We’re just tired of complaining and not getting anywhere with it, you know, the people’s voices are just dampened by the elected officials who seem to get in these positions and just decide how they’re going to do things without the people’s opinion, or the people’s conversation, or our voices being heard,” he said.

Lynn said the group’s goals are to build support around issues affecting the community, like housing or how money in the city is being spent. He said City Council often votes against the wishes of the community, in favor of “a circle of elites” and each other.

“[The people] are asking for transparency, they’re asking for accountability, you know, we’re asking for a whole lot of things and we’re just not getting any of it,” he said. “We’re just getting, kind of, a door slammed in our face so we have to create something to be able to go against that.”

Lynn teamed up with Jerry Norris, the founder of Lansing community center The Fledge, to create The People’s Council.

It’s made up of eight members who are either at-large or represent Lansing's four wards. They were selected at their first meeting on July 21. Lynn said members were asked to self-nominate.

“We allowed each person nominated to speak for a minute and speak to the crowd about why they should be selected and then we held a vote,” he said.

Lynn said the group is not meant as an attack on the Lansing City Council but rather as a move to increase accountability.

He said The People’s Council mirrors the city council and members of The People’s Council will have to advocate for their wards as well as find ways to increase their presence during city council meetings.

“They are literally a spokesperson for their ward, meaning they will do a lot of work to organize their ward, they will do a lot of work to field complaints from their ward and bring it all back to their committees and the committee as a whole,” he said.

The idea, Lynn said, is to create solutions and bring them to city councilmembers. He said that could include resolutions decided upon by the ward.

The People’s Council tentatively plans to meet biweekly on Mondays opposite Lansing City Council's schedule. Their second meeting is Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. at The Fledge.

Melorie Begay is WKAR-FM's weekend host and a general assignment reporter.
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