Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 25, 2014

Leelanau minutes policy remains broad

TRAVERSE CITY — Leelanau County Commissioner Will Bunek notes that from time-to-time county meeting minutes, which can exceed 30 pages, are too long.

“I really believe that we don’t need to have all of the comments from the public; I don’t believe we need to have all the comments from the commissioners,” Bunek said. “I believe if we just get the gist of the meeting and what’s been voted on, that’s the critical stuff for posterity.”

Gwenne Allgaier, a frequent county board meeting attendee, disagrees. She wants Leelanau commissioners to require that public comments are fully expressed in the minutes, and said as much at a May 13 meeting when commissioners reviewed, but didn’t change, their minutes policy.

Leelanau County has a broad minutes policy that mandates the clerk’s office to provide the state-required minimum of motions and votes. Note-takers often go beyond the requirement and include parts of discussion and public comments.

“I think it’s important from a historical standpoint that it helps people understand how a decision was made,” said county Clerk Michelle Crocker.

The Board’s executive committee meeting minutes range in length, from 10 pages in January 2014 to 57 in April 2013 over the last year and a half.

The inconsistent minutes style caused concern for members of the public in October 2013, when a 32-page minutes document failed to mention that three members of the public called for Commissioner Melinda Lautner to be pulled from the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.

Allgaier said she was disgusted and angry when she saw those minutes.

“I would like to see something about public comment and public comment restored in the minutes and bring up the point that the policy was suddenly changed after three people called for the removal of Melinda Lautner from the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments,” Allgaier said.

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