Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 20, 2014

Editorial: To hear NMC tell it, public doesn't care

To hear some members of the Northwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees tell it, the public — that’s you — has virtually no interest in the board’s business and even less in having board meetings aired on public access television or videotaped as a permanent record.

In an email to fellow members of a board policy committee considering recording meetings, NMC board chairman Doug Bishop said only the Record-Eagle cared about the issue of a permanent electronic record. Until now, the only record of what went on at board session were hand-created minutes that usually didn’t even include comments from the public.

Some board members think you like it that way.

“Since I’ve been on the board, there’s been no one; I’ve not received a single call or letter, and the president’s office tells me the only entity pushing this is the Record-Eagle,” Bishop said at a Jan. 21 committee meetting, which a Record-Eagle reporter videotaped. “I don’t see a need for it, and I also believe the public meetings provide a very good forum for people to come personally and listen to what we have to say.”

There were no members of the public at that Tuesday morning meeting.

The day before that committee meeting, Bishop, in an email to fellow committee members Cheryl Gore Follette and Susan Sheldon, wrote he did not see a “demonstrated need” for meeting recordings. He wanted the other committee members to weigh in, but to do so in a way that kept the Record- Eagle — and the public — in the dark ahead of the upcoming full board meeting.

“Without trying to tread on anyone else’s authority or desire to speak, it is my hope that we limit what we say in front of the Record-Eagle tomorrow, so that whatever we present to the board hasn’t already been commented on in print,” Bishop wrote Jan. 20.

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