Friday, February 16, 2018

"The Minutes Matter"

9.31 Declaration of policy. In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them. Further, providing persons with such information is declared to be an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of officers and employees whose responsibility it is to provide such information.

The minutes of public meetings become the official record of village business when they are approved by the governing body. They serve as a permanent record of motions, discussions and votes on business that not only affect us, but as residents, we fund with our tax dollars.

While Wisconsin law gives leeway on the timing for approval and publication - minutes should be presented and approved in “a reasonable amount of time.” Caledonia, Sturtevant, Union Grove, Pleasant Prairie, Oak Creek, all review and approve the minutes from the previous meeting almost without exception. The City of Racine Common Council doesn’t consider any council vote actionable until the minutes of those actions are reviewed and accepted at the next meeting.
On Monday, February 12th, the Village Board approved - all at once - the minutes of seven Village Board meetings that dated back to December of last year. Before Monday, the last time the Village Board reviewed and approved meeting minutes was in November 2017, and that was for eleven meetings all in one vote. Eleven meetings.

During that time, the board voted on contractor agreements, invoices, relocation orders and the acquisition of property for the Foxconn development - representing tens of millions of dollars. They hired of a Village Human Resource Manager, and voted for a wage increase for the Clerk. They amended the intergovernmental water agreement with Racine and the Wisconsin DOT. They voted to purchase vacant land for an EMS station and adopted the 2018 Village Budget - ALL with no published public record of their actions.

Does that seem reasonable to you?

How did it get this way in Mt. Pleasant? Go to the municipal code of ordinances for any city, town or village and they will have a section which covers meetings. This section includes the order of business - often called the agenda - and it outlines the order in which the meeting is conducted. In general, the order is something like this:

1 comment:

TSE said...

It got that way due to General Incompetence, Colonel Conspired Malfeasance, and Major Fuk-ups employed by Lieutenants to give their otherwise unemployable Relatives a cushy job laden with loads of Tax-Payer provided salaries and benefits.

See also: Stephanie Kohlhagen:

MOUNT PLEASANT — After nearly two hours in closed session Thursday, the Mount Pleasant Village Board voted 4-1 to increase the village clerk’s salary $6,000 to roughly $77,000 a year.

Village Clerk Stephanie Kohlhagen originally came to the board earlier this year with a request for an $11,000 increase, but it was rejected.

The decision did not come easily. Village Board member Jon Hansen voiced his concern with the raise and said there should be a human resources director in place to put a salary structure in place. Hansen said this decision could have legal implications.

“I really feel that this opens the village up to litigation to those employees that don’t get these next raises,” Hansen said. “I don’t feel that this is a fair way to run the system. I think the HR director could put a structure in place that would make it fair and equal for all employees.”

The Village Board on Thursday also approved a “human resources and benefits manager” in place of an HR director — also in a 4-1 vote — at the suggestion of Village Administrator Maureen Murphy, and gave her the approval to post the position.

Hansen said having an HR director would be more beneficial to the village.

“I feel that the HR director is a more appropriate position for what we need to get done here because we have zero structure in our HR system and we are lacking in some areas,” Hansen said. “And vulnerable to some lawsuits.”