Commission adopts rules for incoming board

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone City Commission laid down new rules for the incoming board, which will be voted in next Tuesday and seated Nov. 11, during its regular meeting Monday night.

The Rules of Procedure were adopted by the city in December 2009, and last received minor revisions in February 2011.

The commission approved the addition of a conflict of interest item to be standard on all agendas immediately prior to the consent agenda, which includes approval of minutes, and any other commission action.

During this time, commissioners who believe they have a conflict of interest as defined in the Rules of Procedure with any items on the agenda would state their conflict for the rest of the commission members.

“The remaining members would vote on whether that commissioner would abstain from voting or if they have to vote. That helps ensure, too, that people aren’t trying to get out of voting on a hard topic,” said City Clerk Kim Berry.

Also added to the agenda is a period for amendments that would take place immediately prior to the newly-created conflict of interest period, and a period for city clerk comments at the end of the meeting.

Starting with the next meeting, commissioners will receive board packets via their gladstone.mi email accounts and hard copy packets will be available for pick-up by commissioners at city hall on the Friday prior to a meeting. Previously, hard copy packets were delivered to the homes of commissioners.

The switch to email raised some concerns with the commission over the possibility that personal computers could be seized as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

“The letter of the law is the public should be able to see public communication between the board, which I support. Nobody should be able to sequester your computer, I don’t think, but it’s a fine point of the law,” said Commissioner Joe Maki.

All board packets received by commissioners are already made public on the city’s website. The only information not included in the packets available to residents are related to issues discussed in executive session or attorney client privilege.

Commissioners chose to adopt the new email practice, which is already being used in smaller boards and committees in the city, as a cost saving measure.

“I think as far as electronic communication we should be doing what we can to save time and expense,” said Maki.

Commissioners noted that while Commissioner Matt Gay will remain seated, Maki and Commissioner Hugo Mattonen are both facing re-election and may not be affected by the rules. Mayor Darin Hunter will also be leaving the commission and is not seeking re-election.

“I have no problem with the rules. I think they’re a good set of rules for the city commission to live by and if they don’t live by them we’ll still be in the community to remind them of the rules,” said Maki.

Because the make-up of the commission will change following the Nov. 5 election, the commissioners took time to comment on the experience of working together as a group.

“I thank (Hunter) for his leadership and I think this commission has worked very well together,” said Gay. “We haven’t always agreed on every single little detail, but this commission has had the best interest of the city in the forefront as far as their priorities. I’ve enjoyed working with all of you.”

Mayor Hunter also noted while the group did not always agree, his experience with the commission had been positive.

“I will also agree that the citizens of Gladstone have always been and will continue to be the decision makers for our commission and our community,” he said.

The next regular Gladstone City Commission meeting will be the reorganizational meeting of the commission on Nov. 11. As required by city charter, the meeting will start half-an-hour later than usual, at 7:30 p.m. at city hall.