BWL Arranged To Have Supporter Speak First - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

BWL Arranged To Have Supporter Speak First At Meeting

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Lansing Board of Water and Light is facing more criticism after officials pre-arranged speakers for a meeting held on Tuesday designed for the public to share their comments on last month's ice storm.

"It appeared orchestrated," said City Councilwoman Carol Wood.

At Tuesday's special board meeting with nearly 200 attendees, 61 people spoke before the BWL Board of Commissioners, and of those 61, 30 were employees of the company. Most spoke favorably of the utility and its CEO J. Peter Lark,; few offered criticism of how the company handled the treacherous ice storm or on Lark leaving town for a family trip three days into the crisis, which left thousands of people without power for as long as 11 days.

Those who wanted to speak were supposed to add their names to the roster, but BWL spokesman Stephen Serkaian admitted names were added beforehand.

The very first speaker was local radio personality Tim Barron, a supporter of the company. "Tim Barron and I had a conversation prior to the meeting," said BWL spokesman Stephen Serkaian. "Tim Barron was very supportive of the BWL and he indicated he was going to come down to the meeting and I invited him to the meeting to offer support. We talked about his early morning hours. He turns in early, and [I said] I would do my best to accommodate that and sign him in."

BWL officials also said they made accommodations for other public officials like Carol Wood, but Wood said Thursday she planned to attend the entire meeting and never asked to be moved to the top of the speaking list. "I did not ask to be signed up early," said Wood.

Serkaian said BWL followed all the rules of the Open Meeting Act, but offered an apology to the public for any discomfort the speaking arrangements caused. 

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with WLNS-TV. Like her on Facebook, Follow her on Twitter or email her atemorrow@wlns.com.

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