Stories indexed with the term ‘committee structure’

Column: A New Agenda for the DDA

Sometime between May 7, 2014 and June 4, 2014, it looks to me like the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board and executive director violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act (OMA).

Streetlight locations are mapped in the joint Washtenaw County and city of Ann Arbor GIS system. Data available by clicking on icons includes ownership as well as the lighting technology used. Green indicates city ownership. Red indicates DTE ownership.

Streetlight locations are mapped in the joint Washtenaw County and city of Ann Arbor GIS system. Data available by clicking on icons includes ownership as well as the lighting technology used. Green indicates city ownership. Red indicates DTE ownership.

How? At its May 7 meeting, the board voted to postpone until June 4 a resolution authorizing a $101,733 payment to DTE to convert 212 non-LED streetlights in downtown Ann Arbor to LED technology. But the resolution did not appear on the board’s June 4 agenda.

Instead of voting on the previous month’s resolution – to approve it, reject it, postpone it again or table it – the board listened to an update from executive director Susan Pollay. Pollay told board members that they should assume that the issue is tabled – but possibly not permanently. That decision to table the resolution appears to have been made between board meetings.

The DDA board’s inaction on the funding means that the downtown LED conversion won’t happen in this year’s cycle – because the deadline to apply for a project this year is June 30. So for this year’s program, the city’s energy office will ask the city council – at its June 16 meeting – to authorize money to fund a different project that converts some lights outside the downtown. DTE does not necessarily offer the conversion program every year.

A decision on expending funds is an effectuation of public policy – thus a “decision” under Michigan’s OMA. Even though the decision by the DDA on the streetlight conversion allocation had the practical impact of not expending funds, that should still be analyzed as an effectuation of public policy. And that public policy decision appears to have taken place between board meetings, which is a violation of the core requirement of Michigan’s OMA: “All decisions of a public body shall be made at a meeting open to the public.”

As a practical matter, the only consequence of a court’s finding that the DDA violated the OMA would be to invalidate the DDA’s decision not to expend funds. Why bother to drag the DDA board into court over that? Invalidation of the decision not to expend funds would not force the DDA to go ahead and spend the funds. It would leave things exactly as they are now.

A more economical and time-effective way to address this specific issue would be for DDA board members to publicly recognize and acknowledge their commitment to abide by the OMA – by simply taking a vote on the LED conversion resolution from May 7 at their next meeting, on July 2. It’s surely just as important as the board’s scheduled social gathering at Bill’s Beer Garden on that same day.

That’s also the day when the DDA board’s annual meeting takes place. The annual meeting is when new board officers are elected and committees are appointed. So the annual meeting this year could be an occasion for the DDA to flip a switch, and light itself up with civic tech better than any LED. It would be a chance to re-establish itself as a public body that is committed to rigorous governance – based on strict adherence to its bylaws and the state statute that enables the existence of the DDA.

Presented below are some recommendations for specific actions the DDA board should consider, starting at its annual meeting. The recommended actions would provide an agenda for board work that needs to be done in the coming year.

Here’s a summary of those recommendations: establish strong committees; strictly follow the board bylaws or else change them; consult the archives; and create a development plan that meets state statutory criteria. [Full Story]

AAPS Trustees Get Draft FY 2013-14 Budget

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education study session and regular meeting (April 24, 2013): As the main event of the meeting, AAPS administration unveiled its proposed budget to the board. Director of finance Nancy Hoover gave a presentation on district expenditures, then walked the board through proposed cuts of $8,689,293.

Tappan Middle School orchestra students performed for the board.

Tappan Middle School orchestra students performed for the board.

Four community dialogue meetings the board held regarding the budget were summarized by board president Deb Mexicotte and treasurer Glenn Nelson. The trustees will be working to divide some of the suggestions they heard from the public into short-, mid-, and long-term action items.

The board also met during a study session before the regular meeting to address some of the most pressing needs of the superintendent search: identifying a salary, determining a superintendent profile, confirming the superintendent search timeline, and approving an advertising schedule.

The trustees hope to have a candidate in place by the end of July. They decided on a salary range of $180,000 to $220,000, commensurate with experience.

Also at the meeting, Mexicotte made standing committee appointments. The trustees recently moved away from a committee-of-the-whole structure to planning, performance, governance, and executive committees.

Additionally, the board heard first briefings on paving contracts, tech bond purchases, and the Freeman School lease renewal. Trustees voted to approve the 2013 spring grant awards. [Full Story]

AAPS Changes Committee Structure

The Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education has voted to change its current committee-of-the-whole to its former committee structure of two different standing committees. The vote took place at the board’s April 10, 2013 meeting.

After some discussion, the trustees decided to return to two standing committees: one for planning and one for performance, with the addition of a governance and an executive committee.  Committee membership will be determined after trustee interest has been solicited. Appointments will be made as soon as possible.

The trustees also voted to impose a five hour time limit on regular board meetings. Committee meetings will “strive to be no longer than two hours.”

The change came after board president Deb Mexicotte introduced policy changes to address … [Full Story]

Farewell to Roberts, Search Firm Selected

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (Sept. 29, 2010): Though Todd Roberts, outgoing superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS), sat in his regular seat at Wednesday’s school board meeting, there was also a newcomer at the end of the table. Robert Allen, AAPS deputy superintendent of operations, did not participate, but he sat with the board for the duration of the meeting. Roberts’ last day with the district will be Oct. 8, and Allen will be taking over as interim superintendent on Oct. 9.

AAPS Robert Allen

From left to right, outgoing AAPS superintendent Todd Roberts, board president Deb Mexicotte, treasurer Irene Patalan, vice-president Susan Baskett, and Robert Allen, who will assume command of AAPS as interim superintendent on Oct. 9. (Photos by the writer.)

AAPS is hosting a public farewell reception for Roberts at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, at Skyline High School. Board president Deb Mexicotte quipped that the reception would be an opportunity for everyone to express good wishes or condolences to Roberts “as he moves on to accept a not-as-good position in North Carolina.” At Wednesday’s meeting, the board chose Ray & Associates, an executive search firm from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to help them recruit and select a new superintendent.

The meeting also served as the annual organizational meeting for the board, during which trustees elected three new officers, changed the composition of their standing committees, and set their meeting dates for the remainder of the school year.

The board also heard a first briefing on yet another high school option being developed county-wide – an international baccalaureate program. [Full Story]

Recount Confirms: Kunselman Wins

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Matt Yankee, deputy clerk with Washtenaw County, marks ticks in columns as candidate names are read aloud during the recount of the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election for the Ward 3 city council seat. (Photo by the writer.)

Friday morning in the lower level of the county building at 200 N. Main, Letitia Kunselman held her cell phone out in the general direction of Melodie Gable, chair of Washtenaw County’s board of canvassers. Gable was wrapping up about 90 minutes of ballot recounting from the Ward 3 Democratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. By that time, her official announcement stated an outcome that everyone in the room already knew.

We’d followed the hand recount of paper ballots table-by-table, as one precinct after the other confirmed individual vote totals from the initial Aug. 4 results.

What Gable reported was exactly the news that Letitia Kunselman’s husband Stephen – on the other end of the cell phone line – wanted to hear: his own 511 votes compared to Leigh Greden’s 505 had been confirmed, leaving Kunselman the winner of the primary. The third candidate, LuAnne Bullington, picked up one vote in the recount in precincts 3-4 and 3-7 (these precincts shared a single polling location on election day), bringing her total to 382.

We include in our report the vote totals, some anecdotal bits from the morning recount, but more importantly, a brief look at the impact that Greden’s departure will have on council’s committee composition. [Full Story]

Meeting Watch: AATA Board (19 Nov 2008)

The Chronicle arrived 20 minutes late to the AATA board meeting held Wednesday. But at 6:50 p.m. the board was already well into the discussion of its single agenda item listed under new business, which had been predicted on the published agenda to begin an hour later. The item was a resolution authorizing additional funding for a north-south connector study. After approving an increase in their contribution to the budget for the connector study from $100,000 to $160,000 (the total budget for the project increased from $250,000 to $640,000), the board heard from the public, and a few minutes later the meeting was adjourned.

So what happened? [Full Story]