Ypsilanti Citizen News ]]>

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Ypsi broadens scope of Open Meetings Act


DDA violation leads to resolution

By Christine Laughren
Nov. 7, 2009    ·    6:57 p.m.

A recent vote at Ypsilanti City Council is helping shine some light on committee meetings throughout the city.

A resolution brought forth by Councilmember Pete Murdock, D-Ward 3, at City Council’s Oct. 20 regular meeting requires all City Council-established subcommittees, as well as subcommittees and advisory committees established by any board or commission whose members are appointed by City Council, be subject to all the requirements of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

The resolution passed 4-3 with Mayor Paul Schreiber; Mayor-Pro-Tem Trudy Swanson-Winston; D-Ward 1; and Lois Richardson, D-Ward 1, as the dissenting votes. Murdock, Michael Bodary, D-Ward 2; William Nickles, D-Ward 2; and Brian Robb, D-Ward 3, voted in favor of the resolution.

The OMA resolution, which was added to council’s agenda at 5 p.m. on Oct. 20, was discussed in relation to the approval of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority bylaws - a separate agenda item at the meeting.

Murdock said the resolution is simply about “having meetings where decisions are made open to the public.”

Although he had previous discussions with City Manager Ed Koryzno during Council’s goal-setting sessions in January, Murdock moved forward with the resolution Oct. 20, when the DDA violated the Open Meetings Act earlier in the month by having a quorum, or more than seven members of the board, participate at a planning committee meeting.

The DDA, in the midst of a major restructuring, has four standing committees based on the Michigan Main Street approach: organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring. Six members of the 12-member DDA are appointed to each committee.

At the Oct. 20 meeting, DDA Vice President John Coleman said the violation of the act was unintentional. He said the seventh member attended the committee meeting and the group had not noticed, or had not known they were violating the law.

“We may have accidentally violated open meetings act,” Coleman said. “We didn’t mean to have it happen, it just happened.”

Coleman also spoke in favor of the resolution passed by City Council. He said it simplifies the meeting process, as all meetings would have to be posted and all meetings would have to be open.

“I think that’s a real easy thing for us to do,” Coleman said.

The OMA requires a governing body to give at least 18 hours notice in advance of a meeting, in addition to providing an opportunity for public comment, holding all business in open session, going into closed session only for reasons permitted by the OMA, voting only in open session as well as keeping minutes of each public meeting and making them available to the public.

The law also states a regular meeting of a public body may recess to hold committee meetings for which no notice has been posted only if a quorum of the public body is not present, the committees are of an advisory nature only and the committees do not deliberate on a common topic leading to a decision of the public body.

However, Murdock said in the spirit of transparency, he put forward the resolution so the community could be more aware of what is going on in the various committee meetings throughout the city. A Planning Commission sub-committee and Water Street committee would also fall under the purview of the new resolution.

Schreiber said the resolution, with its additional OMA requirements - such as keeping minutes, and posting meeting notices 18 hours in advance - is an “inconvenience” for the volunteers of public bodies as well as city staff.

“I think it puts a burden on staff and our volunteers,” Schreiber said. “All the decisions still have to be made in public… City Council needs to trust our boards and commissions.”

Councilmember Brian Robb, D-Ward 3, who voted in favor of the resolution, said, for him, the vote was easy.

“It’s not about having the voting in public, it’s so people can see the deliberations; that’s the spirit of the Open Meetings Act.”

Schreiber said Saturday afternoon he has spoken with a few councilmembers about reconsidering and bringing the vote back to the table, but he said he hasn’t been given any notice that any councilmembers will change their vote.

In addition to Schreiber’s qualms with the resolution itself, he also voiced frustration with the fact the resolution was brought to the table at 5 p.m. the night of the City Council meeting.

“I didn’t see it and didn’t have time to think about it until it came to the table at 11 p.m.,” Schreiber said.

According to a memorandum, written in July from City Attorney John Barr to City Planner Richard Murphy on the matter of sub-quorums, the OMA does apply if the sub-quorum meeting has a purpose or result of evading the provisions of the act and “the courts interpret this policy broadly.

“The answer then to your question is that the OMA does not generally apply to sub-quorum committees, but it will depend on the intention of the committee,” Barr wrote in the July memo. “The safest policy is to follow the requirements of the OMA, including the timely posting of the meeting and allowing the public to attend and observe the meeting.”

A separate memorandum, dated Oct. 29, from Barr, states City Council does not have the power to expand the OMA by resolution. Therefore, criminal and civil penalties for violating the Open Meetings Act would not apply to the resolution.

“Council does have the power however to enforce the resolution by the appointment power,” the memo states. “If Council desired to have enforceable penalties then the resolution would have to be crafted as an ordinance with misdemeanor penalties.”

Jennifer Coe, interim DDA director, said the group is making “every effort to be open and transparent.” She also voiced the challenges in coordinating four committee meetings to comply with the OMA. She said finding a public meeting location that is available and handicap accessible is not always an easy task. She also said making last-minute changes to a meeting time or location, could pose a problem.

At its Oct. 20 meeting, Council referred the DDA’s bylaws back to the organization for review and changes to the bylaws will go before the DDA board at its Nov. 19 meeting.

However, Robb said, “this really isn’t a DDA issue at all.”

“Pete has had this in his back pocket since Labor Day,” he said. “All this does is add transparency to everything.”

Ypsilanti Historical Society
Roots Jamboree

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