Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

June 29, 2014

Officials to attend OMA workshop

TRAVERSE CITY — More than 30 local government officials signed up to learn more about Michigan’s public office transparency laws.

“That tells me the interest is there,” said Mike Woods, a regional planner for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.

The organization and Michigan State University Extension will hold an Open Meetings Act workshop for public officials on Monday. The meeting is designed to help public officials learn more about Michigan’s Open Meetings Act, which outlines some transparency requirements for units of government.

The Record-Eagle recently alleged that publicly elected officials at Northwestern Michigan College violated the Open Meetings Act when they deliberated whether to televise their meetings over email, instead of during a public meeting.

“These laws aren’t just for the media, they’re really for citizens,” said Michigan Press Association attorney Robin Luce-Herrmann, who will speak at the event. “Our founding fathers have emphasized quite long ago that government transparency and the people knowing what’s going on is important to the government process.”

A Traverse City resident recently settled a lawsuit with Grand Traverse County after she alleged a county commissioner violated the Open Meetings Act by cutting public comments short.

Woods hopes that the workshop helps public officials better understand how to navigate the Open Meetings Act.

“It’s just good to know that people are demanding greater transparency and accountability from their government officials,” Woods said.

Bethany Prykucki and Kurt Schindler, both MSU Extension educators, also will speak at the workshop.

The event will take place on Monday and start at 6 p.m. at the Northwest Michigan Works! Traverse City Service Center on Garfield Avenue.

Attendees can register online at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments website or at the door for $70.

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