Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 23, 2014

NMC president involved in non-public talks

TRAVERSE CITY — A Northwestern Michigan College trustee kept the community college’s president in the loop amid a spate of non-public deliberations before trustees agreed to record their board meetings.

Little discussion preceded trustees’ unanimous vote at a Jan. 27 public meeting to videotape their board meetings, a decision that reversed a policy sub-committee’s recommendation — and some board members’ publicly stated stance — that there was no need to record their meetings.

Emails and other private communications obtained by the Record-Eagle through the state Freedom of Information Act show trustees engaged in behind-the-scenes talks between Jan. 20 and Jan. 27, discussions of which one trustee informed NMC President Tim Nelson four days before the public board meeting.

“I called up Doug this morning to let him know it was my intention to make a motion on Monday that we begin videotape and archiving our meetings, beginning as soon as possible, potentially April,” NMC board vice chair Bill Myers said in a voice mail left for Nelson Jan. 23 . “Not a live broadcast, but at least archives.

“Doug (board chair Doug Bishop) — we discussed it for a while. I gave him my reasons. I think he understands, but at any rate it could go in a few different directions. But I did leave a message for Cheryl (Gore Follette) and for Susan (Sheldon) just to talk to them about it as well, from the policy committee perspective.”

Bishop and NMC trustees Gore Follette and Sheldon served on the policy committee that met Jan. 21. All agreed to recommend the board not record its board meetings.

Trustees’ emails indicate Myers privately contacted at least six of the college’s seven elected trustees as he gathered support for meeting recordings after members of the public called for increased board transparency following the Jan. 20 policy committee meeting.

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