Comments on: Column: Getting Smarter About City Charter it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: mr dairy mr dairy Wed, 03 Feb 2010 00:32:38 +0000 Until we see any politicians who are up for reelection begin to publicly distance themselves from the City Attorney or Roger Fraser, we will have no idea if Mr Askin’s needle is getting under their skin.

For now, as in all things Fraser and Postema, Dave is just a pest to be ignored.

By: Lisa Dengiz Lisa Dengiz Mon, 01 Feb 2010 15:34:47 +0000 Kudos to AA Chronicle for the in depth and thought provoking investigative writing and thanks to its bright, engaged and literate readers for proving thoughtful comments

It seems reasonable to seek and expect transparency and due diligence from local government.

Thanks to all for keeping the beacon of democracy burning brightly in our community!

By: Cendra Lynn Cendra Lynn Mon, 01 Feb 2010 03:11:33 +0000 Many in Ann Arbor get discourage that we have to keep fighting the same battles in new ways. I remind them that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. You provide excellent vigilance of a type long needed in this town. You are rigorous and thorough. You cite your sources. You offer well-reasoned opinion. Thank you for doing a job that most of us lack the time, experience, or resources to perform.

By: David Cahill David Cahill Sun, 31 Jan 2010 19:18:45 +0000 Quotes without comment from the City Charter:

City Records to be Public
SECTION 18.2. All records of the City shall be public, shall be kept in City offices except when required for official reasons or for purposes of safekeeping to be elsewhere, and shall be available for inspection at all reasonable times. No person shall dispose of, mutilate, or destroy any record of the City, except as provided by law, and any person who shall do so contrary to law shall be guilty of a violation of this charter.

Penalties for Violations of Charter
SECTION 18.6. Any person found guilty of an act constituting a violation of this charter may be punished by a fine not exceeding $500.00 or by imprisonment for not to exceed 90 days, or both, in the discretion of the court, except as otherwise provided in Chapter 16 and 20 of this charter.

By: John Floyd John Floyd Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:50:04 +0000 @2 Your characterization of the present Ann Arbor government’s view of itself as a private organization protecting itself from the public is spot-on.

@4 I would state this in even stronger terms: the city IS its citizens; that is what self-government is all about.

When government sees itself as an entity apart from the citizens, when it needs to be protected and keep secrets from the citizens, we have not a democracy, but a tyranny -albeit, a petty one, but a tyranny none the less.

I’m sure that the folks on council have not truly thought about their position in this light. AAC, no doubt your points will gain their attention, their reflection, and their action.

By: Glenn Thompson Glenn Thompson Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:21:12 +0000 It is unfortunate that our elected representatives tolerate such disregard for both the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Their actions set the tone for the city commissions and other public bodies. Unfortunately many of these also find secrecy more convenient than open, transparent, government.

One I am familiar with is the Public Market Commission. The Commission has held one or more “committee meetings” where a quorum of the commissioners were present. The Open Meetings Act requires that proposed minutes of meetings of a public body where a quorum is present be available within 8 days. A FOIA request for the minutes of one of these meetings was denied on the basis that the minutes were not in the possession of the city. The request was made more than 8 days after the meeting.

The regular, cablecast, meetings of the Market Commission are typically less than 1 hour. Very little substantive discussion occurs at these meetings. In these meetings the Commission chair has stated that once the committee, which may consist of a majority of the commissioners has decided what action to take it will be presented at a public meeting. This seems to be an obvious attempt to avoid public knowledge and comment on the proposed actions of the Commission.

By: Bob Martel Bob Martel Sun, 31 Jan 2010 17:52:34 +0000 There’s nothing better than occasionally shining a strong light in the corners of government to maintain a strong democracy. Keep up the good work, AA Chronicle.

By: Stew Nelson Stew Nelson Sun, 31 Jan 2010 17:28:00 +0000 Please count on me to provide support for your ultimate face down in court. The City will not budge as you will soon learn. They will not budge on the “frank communications” ruse also that they love to offer as a reason to not disclose information.


By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Sun, 31 Jan 2010 16:29:28 +0000 Re: [1] and [4]. To clarify, The Chronicle has not yet filed a complaint in court. That’s based on our confidence in our elected representatives that they will address the issue in the manner I have suggested in the column.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Sun, 31 Jan 2010 16:19:48 +0000 Thank you, both for covering this subject and for taking the underlying issue to court. How can the city attorney “advise” administrators or council members without providing an “opinion”?

The underlying problem arises from the phony distinction between “the City” and its citizens. The City is not this administration and it is not the council majority. The City includes all of the citizens for whom the administration works. The reason the Charter requires the City Attorney to disclose his opinions to the public is because he represents all of us, not just the council majority and the City administration.

Keep up the good work. A healthy democracy depends on a vigorous news media. Your publication is an essential part of our community’s democratic process.