Comments on: Column: Open Meetings and Marijuana it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Eric L. VanDussen Eric L. VanDussen Sat, 18 Sep 2010 21:34:21 +0000 It seems quite obvious that the council violated the OMA.


Sec. 7(1) of the OMA mandates that: “the purpose or purposes for calling the closed session shall be entered into the minutes of the meeting at which the vote is taken.

Sec. 7(2) says that “A separate set of minutes shall be taken by the clerk or the designated secretary of the public body at the closed session. These minutes shall be retained by the clerk of the public body, are not available to the public, and shall only be disclosed if required by a civil action filed under section 10, 11, or 13.”

Section 3(2) require all “decisions of a public body shall be made at a meeting open to the public.”

The Chronicle’s reported that councilmember Stephen Rapundalo acknowledged that the council discussed a possible medical marijuana moratorium during their July 19 closed session, in which they had “given the city attorney a directive to draft a moratorium so that it could be brought to that evening’s (Aug 5) meeting.”

I’m wondering what pending litigation the council was discussing in closed session.

I’ve prevailed in several OMA lawsuits against local officials in NW MI and the judge in those cases forced them to identify the actual case caption in their motion to go into closed session because they always did it so lackadaisically.

The only way to possibly find out what happened during that closed session – and what decisions they may have made during it – is to file a lawsuit in circuit court and get a judge to force them to release the closed session minutes.

It appears as though the council is refusing to admit and voluntarily cure their violations of the OMA so someone needs to pony-up and sue them to get some answers.

It only cost $150.00 to file a complaint in circuit court.

Eric L. VanDussen –

By: David David Tue, 14 Sep 2010 15:32:13 +0000 Glad someone is monitoring city council closely.

By: William Clark William Clark Tue, 14 Sep 2010 13:05:19 +0000 Bite them like a barracuda!

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 14 Sep 2010 02:21:00 +0000 Re #8: it was never framed in that way but the interdiction was total. For example, once we were asked to take a straw vote (illegal since all final decisions should be in public) but I could never discuss it, though I did consult with the corporation counsel about it, to no avail. I don’t see how a councilmember could ever feel comfortable in discussing even a potentially illegal subject outside a closed meeting unless they were willing to make a huge issue of it.

(Please do note that I did not describe the subject or discussion related to that straw vote.)

By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Tue, 14 Sep 2010 02:02:25 +0000 Push on, Chronicle! I’ll look forward to reading the next installment.

By: David Cahill David Cahill Tue, 14 Sep 2010 00:16:53 +0000 Vivienne, were you ever told that if something was illegally discussed in closed session, it was still illegal for you to discuss it outside closed session?

For example, suppose that in closed session the BOC wandered into a discussion of the City Council’s alleged general ineptitude and paralysis. Such a discussion would obviously be illegal, but suppose it happened anyway. Stuff happens.

Could you talk about that discussion outside closed session?

By: Edward Vielmetti Edward Vielmetti Tue, 14 Sep 2010 00:15:44 +0000 Exit out the back door was previously noted here:


which naturally is an argument for staking out the back door as well as the front door at adjournment time.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Mon, 13 Sep 2010 17:41:43 +0000 I wish to thank the Ann Arbor Chronicle for this fine example of diligent and thorough investigative reporting.

Legal action may be necessary to test the legality of the actions described in the article.

Adverse adjudications are a deterrent to future violations.

By: mr dairy mr dairy Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:29:19 +0000 I find it extremely troubling that some folks on council and the city administration, and it always seems to involve a select few, treat the rules and laws so casually. Lord Acton was right.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 13 Sep 2010 10:49:49 +0000 The use of closed, or “executive” sessions puts a great deal of burden on members of the body (in this case, Council) because they are subject to legal sanction if they reveal discussions from those sessions. (I’m not sure whether it would be a civil or criminal infraction, but scary enough.) I am familiar with the inhibition that this causes from my experience as a member of the BOC.

Thus, any leakage of regular business into these closed sessions is a real concern because it also exerts an inhibition on the council member from discussing the subject at all lest s/he venture into the area covered by the executive session.

One could argue that the practice, previously highlighted by the Chronicle, of having attorney advice that is not in written form given to council, is essentially the equivalent of exerting the same pressure as a closed session, and that has also been a worrisome tendency.

Thank you for continuing to address these issues that affect our council’s transparency and accountability.