by: John Surach
[MICHIGAN] RULES OF PROCEDURE (EXCERPT)
Act 267 of 1976
Rules of procedure Section 65.5 of PA 3 of 1895 as amended requires every general law village council to adopt “rules of its own proceedings.” As a new trustee, you should become familiar with any rules of procedure already adopted by previous councils. These rules help in running an efficient and genial meeting and in dealing lawfully and effectively with the public and the media. The rules of procedure should indicate the sequence of the council agenda as well as the procedure for holding public meetings....
"Intimidation is the water boarding of business. It is a tactic that creates an artificial fear that something bad might happen.
"Let’s face it: Intimidation is a fact of life. It joins death and taxes as one of the few certainties in life. If someone tells you they have never been intimidated by someone or something, they are lying to you because they are too intimidated to admit it.
"Intimidation comes at us from many quarters - parents, teachers, schoolmates and even churches - but the workplace is where we are most likely to be fed a steady diet of The Big I. The typical business environment is an out-and-out incubator for intimidation.
"The use of power, authority, position and status to intimidate workers into compliance is, at many companies, considered to be one of the most effective of management’s bag of coercive tools.
"Respect for authority, position and status is fine, but using them to intimidate others into submissive acquiescence is quite another thing."
[MICHIGAN] OPEN MEETINGS ACT (EXCERPT)
Act 267 of 1976
15.263 Meetings, decisions, and deliberations of public body; requirements; attending or addressing meeting of public body; tape-recording, videotaping, broadcasting, and telecasting proceedings; rules and regulations; exclusion from meeting; exemptions.
(1) All meetings of a public body shall be open to the public and shall be held in a place available to the general public. All persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided in this act. The right of a person to attend a meeting of a public body includes the right to tape-record, to videotape, to broadcast live on radio, and to telecast live on television the proceedings of a public body at a public meeting. The exercise of this right shall not be dependent upon the prior approval of the public body. However, a public body may establish reasonable rules and regulations in order to minimize the possibility of disrupting the meeting.
THERE'S NO ROOM FOR AN
AUSTERITY PROGRAM IN THE 21ST CENTURY
The rules regarding the separation between church and state is fairly specific.
The two don't mix no matter what side of the fence one takes nor should it be
debated in a public forum. However, I learned a new word today - Austerity.
A quick peruse of the Internet tells me the following meaning of the word:
1. extreme plainness and simplicity of style or appearance.
2. sternness or severity of manner or attitude.
3. conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism.
4. Keeping in mind that I am illiterate I looked up the last word of the 3rd
description 'asceticism': It means: severe self-discipline and avoidance of all
forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.
Here is the word used in a sentence: "a simple life of prayer and personal
For arguments sake let's just toss 1, 3, & 4 out of the equation and
concentrate on number 2. To me, when a public official uses this word it
represents authoritarianism or, "favoring or enforcing strict obedience to
authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal
To those who know me, I never do anything without a good reason, and I
salute the local public official who used the word 'Austerity Program' with a
middle finger. The last time I checked, we still live in a democracy.
Village Council Meeting Minutes: April 8, 2015
Prior to approving the agenda, Welburn added 3 items to his President’s Report.
B.Roof (Village Hall/Fire Department)
Additionally, the President and Village Clerk Manager discussed where to put Blight Enforcement Officer Doug Kuhlman’s report on the Agenda. It was decided to add it to line item 5a.
Prior to a motion being made to accept the April 8, 2015 meeting agenda:
Motion by Webb that all members of the Marcellus Village Council (MVC) shall be governed and abide by the following rule of conduct and courtesy:
Any MVC member wishing to add a topic or matter to the agenda of an upcoming MVC meeting shall file and disclose to the Marcellus Village Manager, the Clerk or Deputy Clerk of the MVC meeting about to be held and the MVC members any document, report, proposal or other writing and any topic or matter proposed to be included in the agenda of such MVC meting not later than immediately prior to consideration of a motion to approve the agenda for the instant MVC meeting, except by unanimous consent of the MVC member present at that MVC meeting.
Webb asked for a second on the motion. Simmons supported the motion.
Webb outlined the reason for the motion:
1.The MVC, among other things, is a deliberative, policy-creating, policy-setting body at which all members have an equal right to participate.
2.Proper conduct by, common courtesy to and mutual respect among all members of the MVC requires a willingness by all members to be frank and open about the public’s business, particularly to all MVC members, so that all of them may be on an equal footing in discussing, dealing with and acting on topics and matters coming before the MVC.
“I have no objection to the named topics that Mr. Welburn has just proposed to delineate what he plans to present during the course of his president’s report, but I think while the motion permits him to do it at the front of the meeting, or permits anyone to do it at the front of the meeting - courtesy calls for at least that if not more, and that’s why the motion.
It [has] not [been] honored at a number of meetings recently, and that’s why I drafted the motion this afternoon so we might all preserve the same rule and the same courtesy” said Webb.
Roll call vote: Ayes: Irwin, Ludlow, Simmons, and Webb. Nays: Welburn. Motion passed.
One has to wonder. Why did Village President Ron Welburn vote "No?"
Dear Village Council:
Enclosed for your review and thoughtful consideration is the first chapter of the Michigan Municipal
League's "Handbook for General Law Village Officials". The center paragraph on page two of this
document provides an excellent explanation as to the power, as well as the limitations on power of the
members of the village council, it says, "first and foremost, trustees must remember they are elected to
make decisions as a collective body, not to act as individuals or apart from the council."
Page 3 of this document provides an outline respecting a council person's participation in formal
council meetings. Please consider this page. The meetings that have been described to me are very
different from the thoughtful, relaxed, friendly and dignified council meetings that are envisioned by this
Please take further consideration of the bottom of page 4 of this document, together with page 5
under the topic "Respect the relationship with village employees". It provides "the second step is to trust
the staff’s professional judgment and to recognize its authority and responsibility. Staff is hired for its
expertise. They have the training, experience and information that the council does not---and need not-
have." A village employee and the village as a whole benefits from this level of trust wherein "what is best
for the village as a whole" needs to be considered above any particular personal animosity or interest. An
adversarial relationship between any individual council member and an employee or group of employees is
counterproductive. Employees spend time "chasing their tails" or "covering their butts" instead of getting
work done. If staff is continually focused on "who is talking about whom", the village's needs and priorities
get set aside.
Marcellus Michigan.org received the following information via a media packet at the May 13, 2015 Regular Council Meeting
The Marcellus Village Council met in special session on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 to discuss the
hiring of a new village Department of Public Works (DPW) employee, discuss the hiring of Wightman
& Associates, Inc. to manage and facilitate the $155,100 grant (recently approved by the State of
Michigan) on behalf of the Village of Marcellus, and to discuss the removal (by the DPW) of some
outdoor chairs at a residence located at 308 E. Elm Street.
In sum, Village President Ron Welburn stated that the cost of hiring Wightman & Associates, Inc., “Is
a hell of a lot of money to spend.” Furthermore, in spite of Welburn’s comments, Village
Clerk/Manager Jourdan commented that she was not directed to solicit further engineering bids from
those serving on the Council, and thus acted accordingly.
After further discussion he (Welburn), along with the rest of the Council voted to hire Wightman &
Associates, INC. to facilitate the grant at a cost of $32,380.00 which represent some 20+ percent of
the grant. Additionally, the Village of Marcellus will be forced to use a substantial amount of the
Village’s General Funds, or ask voters to approve a USDA loan to cover the balance of the
demolition to raze the Old Columbian Hotel/Changes II buildings.
The matter at 308 E. Elm was tabled until the August 26, 2015 regular meeting with Welburn asking
that DPW workers Elton Hackenberg and Timothy Glass be in attendance.
The Council gave its nod of approval to hire Timothy Weston to replace former DPW worker Josh
Wilkins becoming effective sometime after September 2, 2015. Weston’s starting pay will be $14.00
an hour + benefits taking into consideration he has an active CDL license and prior experience. This,
pending a clean drug screening.
Following discussion, Simmons made a motion to adjourn the meeting. However, Welburn noted that
a support of the motion had not been made telling the Council he had other business to present to the
Welburn went on the attack demanding that Deputy Clerk John Surach to shorten the length of his
minutes. Surach responded that the minutes of the July 22, 2015 was approximately 7 pages in
length, and the minutes of the June 24, 2015 was 5 pages in length. Surach commented that he did
not understand how much more he was to cut from the minutes.
Welburn commented that he comes in an hour before a regular Council meeting to get his Council
packet and there isn’t enough time to read all of the minutes. I will leave the readers with this thought.
The Village President is a salaried paid position which pays $400.00 a month before taxes are taken
out and he should be more attentive. It takes more than coming into the village hall a couple times a
month to do an adequate job.
A recording secretary has 8 business days in which to write the minutes and submit them to the
Village Clerk. For example, the July 22, 2015 meeting minutes were due on August 3, 2015. This
leaves Council members plenty of time to review the minutes of the last meeting. At any time after
the 8 days have passed, the draft minutes are available for Council members to view.
Surach informed Welburn he was in violation of the Open Meetings Act and called for a closed
session to discuss the employee related matter.
Simmons defused the situation asking Jourdan to have the Council packet ready for Council review
the day before a regular meeting which members of the Council agreed too including Welburn.
Let me be frank - I wear many different hats in this community and there will be times when roles
overlap. Simply stated, I covered the meeting tonight (August 19) as a reporter for
MarcellusMichigan.org and not as the Village of Marcellus Deputy Clerk.
Indeed, ‘When World’s Collide.”
The following is verbatim exchange between Welburn, Jourdan, and Simmons regarding the May 6, 2015 Letter to the Council from the village's attorney:
Welburn: “Discuss Lawyer’s bill, A letter to the Council. Krista, do you want to take over on this one?”
Jourdan: “Well you felt that the letter from the attorney was to serve one employee. That letter was to serve the Council. That letter has been kind of in the works for about 3 months. What the final thing was that made her (the Village attorney) decide to send a letter was - I’ll read you the e-mail that I sent her and this is very odd.”
“I (Krista) recently received a phone call from a resident who complained that they asked a Council member about the performance of an employee. The Council member responded with a series of derogatory remarks about the employee. This resident called to complain about the Council member’s comments even though they were the catalyst. The resident was saying that this type of behavior is not appropriate, or legal, from an employer, etc. etc.”
In responding to the attorney’s comments Jourdan told the Council, “I wrote that I would have to agree that making such remarks probably isn’t legal, and the Council should be reminded of employer, employee relationships, ethics, [and] obligations.
Then I wrote, “This is a very weird situation because I… that the resident led the Council member into it. The resident did not give me his name. He did not tell me which Council member he spoke with, and he did not tell me which employee they spoke about.
“So they basically set a member of the Council up, and was very disgusted with the Council. There were other things that transpired before that, that led to that letter.
“…I had been in touch with her (the attorney) from the get-go because of the first ‘Closed Session’ scheduled meeting was not going to be a legal meeting, and I don’t want the Council to do that.”
Welburn asked, “Did we have a ‘Closed Session’ meeting?”
Jourdan replied, “No.”
Welburn responded, “Okay.”
Continuing Jourdan said, “Only because we left the information on your desk. But the meeting you did have, was still - bordered on not legal.”
Welburn responded, “I think Krista has been engaged with our attorney for Krista’s own agenda, and I do not feel that the Village should pay for that.”
Simmons commented, “I disagree wholeheartedly,” asking Welburn, “I don’t know where you’re coming from that this is Krista’s own personal vendetta. Why would she even bother to write to the attorney if somebody hadn’t made this comment?”
Welburn responded, “Well, with the way this letter starts out talking about an employee.”
Simmons responded, “Right.”
Continuing Welburn stated, “Right, and an employee has never got a performance evaluation.”
Simmons responded, “None of them have.”
Welburn replied, “You’re exactly right.”
Jourdan asked Simmons, “Didn’t we agree to do that in September?”
Simmons replied, “Yes we did. Absolutely.”
Welburn commented, “Why was the attorney involved?”
Jourdan replied, “I don’t know what her point was on that. I have no idea why she made that comment.”
Welburn asked, “Did we request this letter? Did you request it?” Only you, or I can request it.”
Jourdan replied, “Yes I did. Yes, I requested that she keep us in line because from…for the last 3 months we have been bordering on doing things that are not legal. We are going to get sued. We have to be careful. So I have kept in touch with her, and when this came about she said that it is her (the attorney) obligation to let us know that we’re walking a fine line, and remind us of what those rules are.”
Disgustedly, Welburn said, “Seven-hundred, and seven dollars, worth of legal fees…”
Simmons interrupted telling Welburn, “Those are 3 different bills…”
Jourdan brought things into perspective telling the Council that the letter to the Council cost $225.00.
Welburn commented, “Do you know how many conversations a week she might be having with the attorney?”
Simmons shot back, “Do you know how many times she needs to call the attorney?”
Welburn replied back, “NO, I don’t.” Why does she need to call the attorney so many times?”
Laughing at Welburn Simmons commented, “Ya know, we haven’t been doing a lot of things right.”
In spite of Welburn’s posturing about the $225.00 bill for the ‘Letter to the Council,” and its repayment coming out of Jourdan’s pocket, Council Trustee Webb put things in to perspective, informing Welburn and the Council that ALL BILLS, and been unanimously approved for payment earlier in the meeting.