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Lansing city council says 'no' to mayor's plan for BWL inspector general

May 12, 2015

The Lansing city council has rejected the mayor’s plan to keep a closer eye on the city’s utility. 

The Lansing Board of Water and Light’s management has been making changes since it was heavily criticized for its handling of a major winter snow storm and power outage in 2013.

Lansing Board of Water & Light headquarters
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mayor Virg Bernero wanted to hire an inspector general to report to him directly about BWL’s internal activities. That would have required a vote by Lansing city residents to approve changes to the city charter.  But the city council shot down that plan last night.

“We’ll study what the council’s done tonight,” Randy Hannan, Bernero’s spokesman said after last night’s marathon six hour meeting, “I don’t think it’s clear even to the council members exactly what they did tonight. But we’ll get some clarity on that.”

With the money saved by not having an inspector general, the Lansing city council decided to hire an outside firm to review BWL’s management. 

Councilwoman Carol Wood says an independent agency will address the problem with more transparency.

“Doing this operational audit will get us there,” says Wood.

A mayoral veto is possible, but the council appears to have enough votes to override a veto.