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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Update: Kids in the Hall

In swift vote, Carol Wood is nominated president and A’Lynne Robinson vice president of City Council for 2013

by Andy Balaskovitz

Thursday, Jan. 3 — 6:28 p.m. For Brian Jeffries, Kathie Dunbar’s 2012 performance didn’t improve as he hoped it would.


After the two Lansing City Council members reached an agreement last year making Jeffries Council president in 2012 in exchange for Dunbar’s presidency this year, Jeffries said today that it was based on the condition that her record as a Council member would improve. These “performance issues” include meeting attendance, timely arrivals and “the use of her computer during meetings,” Jeffries said.


“There were certain expectations (last year) that if these were met,” the agreement would stand, Jeffries said today after casting his vote for At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood as Council president. “We met again last week and it didn’t work out. … The year in review didn’t make the mark.”


Dunbar says that if his expectations were part of the agreement, she was never told about them.


“He didn’t consult me about anything for a majority of the year,” Dunbar said today. “If he had those expectations, they were never shared with me.”


The Council voted 5-3 today to elect Wood as president and 3rd Ward Councilwoman A’Lynne Robinson for vice president. It did so in swift fashion — both in committee and during the full Council meeting — and not a single Council member explained their vote during either meeting. Council members Tina Houghton and Jessica Yorko joined Dunbar in voting against Wood and Robinson.


But let’s not forget what happened to Jeffries in 2006 and 2007 when he and former Councilman Harold Leeman agreed to exchange presidency roles. Leeman served in 2006 and had promised Jeffries the job in 2007. Leeman backed out of the deal — some say he reneged; Leeman said he ran again on the encouragement of former Councilman Tim Kaltenbach, who wouldn’t support Jeffries.


Jeffries disputes that he did the same to Dunbar as was done to him in ’07, citing the expectations he had of Dunbar. She didn’t meet them, he said, so the comparison is “apples to oranges. I completed every commitment.”


Dunbar disagrees.

1:46 p.m.: That was fast. In just a few minutes, the Lansing City Council voted 5-3 in committee to nominate At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood as Council president and A’Lynne Robinson for vice president for the next year.

Needing five votes, Wood had the backing of Robinson and fellow Council members Brian Jeffries, Jody Washington and Derrick Quinney. Council members Kathie Dunbar, Jessica Yorko and Tina Houghton voted against and supported Dunbar for president.

Votes went along the same lines for Robinson’s vice presidency. Wood nominated Robinson for the post. The nomination process did not include any public discussion among the Council members during today's Committee of the Whole meeting — last year, the nominating process spanned multiple meetings and more than a dozen 4-4 stalemate votes.

The Council meets later this afternoon for a final vote on the nominations.

Though Dunbar has sought the position for over a year now — some Council members agreed to install Dunbar as president this year as part of a deal to make Jeffries president in 2012 — the Wood/Robinson deal surfaced over the Council’s holiday break.

Wood, who is serving her fourth term, served one prior term as president 10 years ago.

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