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Mar 21

Keeping Ypsi Rolling

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

To be honest, the only reason I went to tonight’s Ypsilanti City Council Meeting was because I thought I might be the lucky one they gave a million dollars to this week.

This was the third consecutive Council Meeting to end after midnight. The meetings keep getting longer and longer because there’s more drama than ever. The people against cutting the bus subsidy were out in force. The people against eliminating churches, schools, and union halls from the downtown were well represented (they actually defeated the ordinance). And the stalwarts of the downzoning coalition were there.

Of all the evening’s madness, the thing that stands out most in my mind at the moment was a comment made by Councilmember John Gawlas. He asked why the City Clerk couldn’t list the names of those who spoke during audience participation in the official meeting minutes.

That’s genius!

Where could he have gotten the idea for more transparency in government you ask?

Well, he got it from me. Okay. So he’s five months behind in his reading on the site, but at least he’s reading. In a couple of weeks, he should be up to speed on the whole Wireless Washtenaw initiative as well as building an elevator for the Riverside Arts Center.

All kidding aside, there were between forty and fifty speakers tonight on the various hot-button issues. We remember that now, but in a month or two when someone goes back over the official minutes of the meeting, they won’t remember how many people spoke out in favor or against something. I don’t want to imply that these speakers were wasting their time because they weren’t, but when the issue about the bus subsidy comes back during the budget discussions in May, some Council members may point to the so-called silent majority of people who didn’t show up to voice their concerns.

The City could remedy this problem and save money in one fell swoop.


The City Clerk records the meeting on regular cassette tapes. She’s then forced to transcribe them in order to get the usable bits for the minutes. As you can probably imagine, it’s a labor intensive process that consumes time the Clerk could be using on more important tasks. If the City were simply to digitally record the meeting, they could put the entire file on their site the next morning for anyone interesting in hearing it. The Clerk would then be able to publish a bare-bones version of the minutes and reference the audio file posted on the web site.

I imagine someone from City Council will eventually read this in five months or so. I look forward to seeing it come up for discussion then.

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