Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 17, 2014

NMC president's email to college staff

Northwestern Michigan College President Tim Nelson sent the following email to college employees Tuesday afternoon:

As many of you know, at its March 24th Board meeting NMC Trustees approved a videotaping policy in order to archive and record all special and regular meetings of the NMC Board. Trustees began reviewing the benefits and concerns regarding adopting this policy last fall.

NMC and other public bodies have fallen under scrutiny by the Traverse City Record Eagle for not having established policies making the televising or taping of Board meetings available to the general public. All NMC Board meetings and NMC Board of Trustee committee meetings are posted in advance and open to the public. The State of Michigan requires public access to public institutions through its Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Regardless, NMC administration and the Board of Trustees have a long standing and widespread reputation for exceeding those requirements, and being readily available to the general public, as well as the campus constituency.

As evidenced by the variety of policies (and in some cases, the lack of policies), public bodies throughout our region have developed a multitude of positions regarding the taping of meetings. In fact, NMC’s research confirms that of the 28 community colleges in the State of Michigan, only two (2) video and archive board meetings. Six additional colleges audio record board meetings and destroy the recordings once minutes are approved at the following meeting.

Recently, I became aware the Traverse City Record Eagle suspected members of the NMC Board of Trustees of operating outside scheduled public meetings to discuss the Board’s recording policy prior to its adoption. Communication between public body board members outside of public meetings is common, as long as it is not a quorum nor is it intended to deliberate or make decisions on behalf of the body.

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