This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How does the Government of the City of Bloomfield Hills do in maintaining the purpose and the precepts of the Michigan Open Meetings Act. ?

Not particularly well. 
Mention of  MOA  conjures up all sorts of lurid images of secret  meetings facilitated by  the electronic age devises used  to avoid public witness but that is not our point here.There are  no allegations about our government doing said nor have there ever been to the best of our knowledge.

What there has been however and, is currently, is a refusal to adhere to the most simple and easy to fulfill requirements of MOA that indicates a unhealthy disrespect for MOA.

Because MOA is meant to open government for its citizens, ignoring  the minor points of MOA indicates an unhealthy  disrespect for citizens as well. There are two areas where our City delivers less than what the Michigan Open Meeting Act requires.
1)MOA requires is that proposed (or draft) minutes of a meeting ) must be made available for public inspection within eight days after the applicable meeting. At the next meeting the governing body  has five days furnish  the public with approved minutes.

1) 0n the City's web site under Welcome to minutes on demand it states that meeting minutes will be posted once they are approved by the "Council Board". That means  a delay of a month   before residents  are able to learn what was their government discussed at the last meeting.  MOA does not require Citizens to attend meetings. It does require the Government to provide  it's citizens with  draft status of  the most recent meeting in 8 days. That includes  City Commission meeting, Planning commission meetings and Zoning Board meeting. To ignore that requirement is an violation of the Open meeting act.

2) The formation of sub committees and committees of one.
By Michigan law a committee of one is not a committee and therefor not subject to MOA. Nor are advisory Committees because they  advise rather than  decide.

  Claims of lack of a quorum and "therefore not a sub committee subject to MOA" is in some cases a subterfuge. The key is what is the intent. Is it  a lack of bodies or is it  intended to by-pass the Citizens it is supposed to include ?

In the Current issue of Hills Highlight. Commissioner McClure writes " The City Manager, Building officials, with some input from our consultants, and  a subcommittee, will be reviewing our building department organizational structure and some processes."  

Who is on the sub committee ? Do they they meet ?  Are  meetings  open to the public ? Are minutes kept of their meetings ? 

Per Moa Minutes must be kept for all meetings and are required to contain:
  • a statement of the time, date and place of the meeting;
  • the members present as well as absent;
  • a record of any decisions made at the meeting and a record of all roll call votes; and
  • an explanation of the purpose(s) if the meeting is a closed session.
Except for minutes taken during a closed session, all minutes are considered public records, open for public inspection, and must be available for review as well as copying at the address designated on the public notice for the meeting.
Proposed minutes must be available for public inspection within eight business days after a meeting. Approved minutes must be available within five business days after the meeting at which they were approved.

These are the  questions and principles behind  MOA an with the goal providing an open and transparent Government.

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