Comments on: County Board Acts on Budget Items it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Dory John Dory Sat, 11 Dec 2010 18:41:51 +0000 Leah is correct.

The commissioners now have the lucrative per diem program locked in for another two years.

I hope that the opponents of this program on the commission as well as citizens such as Tom Wieder continue to press this issue so that this nonsense is abolished.

Keep up the good work, Commissioner Gunn.

By: Leah Gunn Leah Gunn Mon, 06 Dec 2010 19:13:03 +0000 According to Corporation Counsel, it is not our Board rules that would need to be changed, it is state law. The Board cannot change its compensation during the term of the presently elected officials. Any change made in 2011 would affect only those members who would serve begining in January of 2013. That is why I introduced my resolution this year, to be effective beginning January 2011.

For your information, it was found that five meetings of the Washtenaw Metro Alliace which I attended, and for which I received per diems, were deemed “ineligible”. I have paid $125.00 to the county for those meetings. I never have claimed mileage for anything in my terms as a County Commissioner. As I have stated previously, I stopped taking per diems in 2008, and my so-called “flex account” was zero in 2010, and will be zero in 2011-12.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 06 Dec 2010 13:48:34 +0000 The Board of Commissioners traditionally does not hold any meetings after the early December one and I don’t see any indication that there will be an exception this year. Commissioner Gunn’s resolution was defeated at a previous meeting and since no resolution was brought to the floor on December 1, the commissioners have left their compensation package unchanged for the next term. They will be unable to change the compensation now for the entire term unless possibly they are able to amend the Board Rules from the floor in the organizational meeting, first meeting of the term.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Mon, 06 Dec 2010 02:40:26 +0000 The per diem matter continues to be an ongoing embarrassment to the County Commission.

Firstly, I would like to see a listing of which commissioners have reimbursed the county, and those who have not. For those who have not, we need to make sure the statute of limitations period has not expired prior to instituting appropriate legal action.

Secondly, Tom Wieder’s public commentary is well-taken; Commissioner Gunn’s proposed resolution eliminating the per diems should be supported by all commissioners.

I would like to point out, however, that Mr. Ouimet and the other commissioners are entitled to due process and a presumption of innocence. The burden is on the county to prove their case that they are entitled to reimbursement for overpayments.

I would also note that it is my recollection that Mark Ouimet wanted an independent audit performed before he would agree to repay any amounts and that such an audit has not been made public as of yet. I know of no demand being made upon Mr. Ouimet of repayment as a result of such an audit. It is unfair that he has been excoriated for not making reimbursement before the independent audit is even published.

I will also hope that such litigation would be cost-effective and the county not spending more in legal fees than the amounts litigated are worth.

I hope that Verna McDaniel’s upcoming state of the county report addresses the per diem issues and offers appropriate remedies.

The public should continue to exert pressure on the County Commission to ensure all inappropriate per diem and travel compensation is recouped and these expenditures eliminated in the future. The County Commission cannot expect others to make sacrifices in these trying economic times when they appear unable to step up to the plate and clean up this current situation that Mr. Wieder has rightfully shined a spotlight on.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sun, 05 Dec 2010 14:27:31 +0000 This illustrates a gray area in the application of the Open Meetings Act. According to that act, deliberation on a measure is not supposed to take place outside a public meeting. We’ve been through the issue of group emails or even a network of emails as improper in this regard.

However, it is common practice, and only a practical measure, that a legislator contemplating a controversial resolution should touch base with colleagues to see whether there is support. In my days with the Board of Commissioners, this was done by calling them individually. There is little point in introducing business to the floor if only the introducer will vote for it (unless the purpose is grandstanding).

Still, it seems to me that Mr. Smith’s handling of the compensation issue veers into a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of OMA. He made extensive public statements and announced the intention to bring the resolution – but then failed to bring it because he couldn’t “garner sufficient votes”. In other words, a vote occurred via his polling, but not in the public eye.

I speculate that he failed to bring the resolution because it would have embarrassed some friends and allies on the BOC. But that is why county commissioners must vote on issues and are not allowed to abstain. It is the moment to stand with your convictions.

The better way would have been what Commissioner Gunn did – to announce the resolution and its basis, put it up on the agenda, and let the chips fall where they may. The public deserves that.