2018-01-10 / News

Subcommittee meeting sparks open meetings debate in Elba

Supervisor calls it a ‘dangerous path’
BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com


Elba Township Supervisor Mike Boskee said not posting public notices about subcommittee meetings is “a dangerous path to go down.” 
Photos by Andrew Dietderich Elba Township Supervisor Mike Boskee said not posting public notices about subcommittee meetings is “a dangerous path to go down.” Photos by Andrew Dietderich ELBA TWP. — Elba Township Supervisor Mike Boskee called out two fellow board members Monday, raising the question of whether they violated the Open Meetings Act last week.

During Monday’s regular board meeting, Boskee asked township Trustees Tim Lintz and Kelly Bales why public notice wasn’t published for a subcommittee meeting the two had Friday, Jan. 5.

The meeting was to continue work on an employee handbook for Elba Township, a process in the works for the last several months.

Bales said Monday that a rough draft of the employee handbook is nearly ready for presentation to the entire township board.

However, a debate over the process used to get this point in the process then ensued.


Elba Township Trustee Tim Lintz said he “would take into consideration” a recommendation from Boskee with regard to publishing public notice about meetings. Elba Township Trustee Tim Lintz said he “would take into consideration” a recommendation from Boskee with regard to publishing public notice about meetings. “Where and when did you have this meeting because there was nothing posted here,” Boskee said.

Lintz said “We didn’t have it here.”

Boskee responded by saying “We’ve been down this road many, many times.”

“Previous attorney, current attorney, townships association, have all said that subcommittees, workgroups… those meetings have to be public, have to be posted,” he said. “Where and when was this meeting?”

Bales countered by stating that she had “conferred with the township association and they said subcommittee meetings did not have to be posted.”

“So we had a subcommittee meeting between the two of us on Friday,” she said.

Boskee confirmed that they were talking about last Friday, Jan. 5. Lintz affirmed.

“Where was this at?” Boskee asked.

“At GLTA,” said Bales, referring to the Greater Lapeer Transportation Authority where she serves as executive director.

Boskee asked about the time of the meeting and Lintz said “10:30.”

Clerk Rena Fountain said “any of those types of meetings need to be posted.”

“According to MTA (Michigan Townships Association) it’s better to err on the side of caution than to be in possible violation,” she said.

Lintz then briefly raised the question over whether board members should receive pay for participating in subcommittee meetings. Boskee said it was township policy to not pay board members for work done in subcommittee.

He then brought the discussion back to last Friday’s subcommittee meeting.

“Had a subcommittee of the planning commission met without posting at a location other than the township, you would not have been pleased with that,” Boskee said, once again stating the current and previous legal counsel has said such meetings need to be “published, posted, held here (at Elba Township Hall), and if they can’t be held here there should be a rationale why.”

“This is a dangerous path to go down,” Boskee said. “So I don’t want to see that happen again.”

Boskee furthered the point by saying “you’re opening yourselves up to problems.”

Bales and Boskee disagreed over the recommendation from the Michigan Township Association. Bales said she confirmed with the organization that subcommittee meetings don’t have to be posted while Boskee claimed “it’s actually posted on their website.”

Bales insisted several times that she did her due diligence.

“As a matter of fact, the last meeting we had here the front door was locked,” she said, referring to a previous employee handbook subcommittee meeting when Treasurer Nate Eashoo was part of it.

“Even if the public wanted to come in, the front door was locked,” she said.

“Why was that?” Boskee asked. “You had the keys. Why didn’t you open the door?”

Lintz said that part of the reason the subcommittee meeting was held in the township hall was because there wasn’t going to be anyone else in the building.

“There was no talk of the public coming in or being able to do that or anything else,” he said. “Just like there isn’t for any other sub (committee) meeting whether it’s planning commission or ZBA or anything like that.”

“Well we do have public that attends,” Boskee said.

“Yeah right,” Lintz countered.

Bales noted that anything to come out of the subcommittee meeting would be a recommendation to the full board, that no action would be taken by participants, and the public would be able to have input at that level.

Boskee said he understood that and claimed the public still has the right to be part of the initial review process.

“The bigger overall question is, why would you be opposed to it?” he asked. “What is the reasoning or the rationale that you wouldn’t want it published to give the opportunity for it to public or for employees affected to offer input? What would be the problem with that?”

Bales said “there wouldn’t be a problem with that.”

“We were trying to get this completed so we could get it expedited,” she said.

“We want to bring it before you people so we can get a ruling on it,” Lintz added. “That’s where the voting comes in. It’s just a matter of putting stuff together.”

At the end of the discussion, Boskee said that “I would hope that going forward we would err on the side of caution and do a better job.”

“Thank you and we’ll take that into consideration,” Lintz said.

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