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Aug 31

Transparency? You Don’t Mean Us Do You?

Comments (3) 8:30 AM posted by admin |

A loyal reader sent me the following from the June 17th minutes from the Ypsilanti Planning Commission:

Review of Bylaws
After review of the bylaws, Commissioner Lenart moved to strike Section 4 of Article VIII that requires the Open Meetings Act apply for advisory committees. This would eliminate the need for sub-committees to post the meeting schedule, taking minutes, etc. It is his opinion that there is protection for these boards by being an advisory capacity rather than a regularly seated board, especially since these sub-committees are for an exchange of ideas rather than making decisions. The motion was supported by Commissioner Andrews. No action was taken on the motion. After further discussion, Commissioner Lenart moved to amend Section 4 of Article VII as discussed for consideration at the next Planning meeting, subject to an opinion by the City Attorney (Support: R. Andrews). A roll call vote was taken with a vote of 5:1. Commissioner Johnson opposed.

The worst thing about this secret meeting is it conflicts with the secret meetings I have. Someone needs to post a schedule of all of our secret meetings so we can coordinate them better.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was completely plagiarized. Fortunately, the source came from from a secret meeting, and as a result, there were no minutes.

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  1. Comment by brobb
    August 31, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    The reason why blogs are a bad idea is because of posts just like this one.

    While I never specifically said the Planning Commission was doing something shady, by merely bringing up the topic, readers get the impression that something shady is actually happening. Percpetion is reality.

    It’s like saying, “As far as I know, Brian Robb was not trying to shoot out the tires of a vehicle being driven by a person fleeing from the police.” I’m distancing myself from the comment, but at the same time, I’m embracing it.

    The problem with sub-committees as it has been pointed out to me is that they create sub-committee envy.

    Let’s assume for a moment that the purpose of the Planning Commission sub-committee was to get the planning professionals on the commission to give their opinions on site plans in order to make the review happen faster. The problem becomes the non-professionals on the commission want to be on the sub-committee because they want to be involved too. The result is the process bogs down and gets the appearance of being shady.

    Sub-committees always look shady. I should know.

    But as far as I know…

  2. Comment by rodneyn
    September 4, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

    Unfortunately, a public body with subcommittees not required to at least post notice of a meeting and take basic minutes can more easily move deliberation of controversial topics out of the public eye. I have known of situations where the primary business is done through such subcommittees, with decisions coming “pre-packaged” to the full commission. The public commission meetings then become little more than a rubber stamp session.

    For the Planning Commission, it is far better to minimize the use of committees and keep all discussion/deliberation public and on-the-record.

  3. Comment by trusty getto
    September 6, 2009 @ 10:07 am

    That was you who shot at the fleeing vehicle? Dang.

    MCL 15.262 (Open Meetings Act): (a) “Public body” means any state or local legislative or governing body, including a board, commission, committee, subcommittee, authority, or council, which is empowered by state constitution, statute, charter, ordinance, resolution, or rule to exercise governmental or proprietary authority or perform a governmental or proprietary function, or a lessee thereof performing an essential public purpose and function pursuant to the lease agreement.
    (b) “Meeting” means the convening of a public body at which a quorum is present for the purpose of deliberating toward or rendering a decision on a public policy.

    MCL 15.263: (1) All meetings of a public body shall be open to the public and shall be held in a place available to the general
    public. . . .(2) All decisions of a public body shall be made at a meeting open to the public.

    MCl 15.265: (1) A meeting of a public body shall not be held unless public notice is given as provided in this section by a person
    designated by the public body.

    Seems crystal clear to me. Maybe the lawyer can find some loophole or finely parse some language to circumvent it. Good luck with that.

    All that said, how drunk were you? The news reports indicated that you missed. I thought you were a better shot than that. If you want my vote next time, you’d better get your sorry ass down to the range and make some progress on your accuracy.

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