The former city administrator of Flint claimed in a lawsuit filed Monday she was fired after raising concerns the mayor’s office redirected funds meant for victims of the water crisis towards the mayor’s campaign fund.
Natasha Henderson claimed in the lawsuit that Flint Mayor Karen Weaver directed city employees to stop potential donations to a charity called Safe Water/Safe Homes in February. The charity, run by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, was specifically set up for the purpose of helping those affected by Flint’s poisoned water.
Henderson claimed city employee Maxine Murray was told to shift the money from the Flint charity to a group calling itself “KarenaboutFlint.” Murray was so shaken by the orders that she went to Henderson because she was worried about “going to jail,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit further claimed the move was made without the knowledge of the city council, nor that of the control board created for the purpose of overseeing Flint’s transition to state control.
Weaver managed to defeat a Democratic primary opponent using a message that state officials were not doing enough to protect Flint from lead-tainted water.
Mayor Weaver fired Henderson in February, stating it was important to institute a personal change to help address the water crisis.
“I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do. My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path,” Weaver said in a statement addressing the move.
Henderson’s attorney, Katherine Smith Kennedy, told CNN Henderson was an important part of the water crisis transition team.
“It was not until this report that there was any discussion of her being fired,” Kennedy said. “My client was brought in to help the City of Flint. She did a very good job in that regard. She did the right thing here to report this red flag, and she was punished for it.”
Henderson claimed she raised concerns to Flint attorneys that contributions were redirected and was told her allegations were very serious.
Henderson was then fired on February 12, despite her contract stipulating she could only be fired after mutual agreement between the mayor, the city council, and the transition board.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a March report showing burglars broke into city hall offices containing documents related to Flint’s water system and to the water crisis in general, just before federal investigators sifted through evidence of wrong doing. The only thing taken was a TV.
Henderson’s lawsuit also comes less than a month after Michigan’s attorney general filed charges in April against three low-level Flint environmental employees for their roles in allowing lead to leach into the city’s water supply.
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