UPDATE:11:52 p.m. – After several meetings and sometimes contentious meetings, the Lansing City Council finally breaks it’s deadlock and votes for a new president and vice president; Patricia Spitzley is the council’s president and Carol Wood is the vice president.
While the council finally overcame this issue, another has come to light.
It’s a concern surrounding not who was elected to be in those leadership positions, but rather how council members came to their conclusion.
During the meeting Monday night, some Lansing residents raised concerns over a recent City Pulse article, which claims some council members were privately meeting behind closed doors regarding who to nominate as president. Raising the question, did some member of the council violate the Open Meetings Act?
Lansing City Attorney, Jim Smiertka said he read the article and based on his preliminary conclusion, council members did not violate the Open Meetings Act because he said deliberating over a council president and vice president is an administrative policy decision, not a public policy decision.
Smiertka also said that he, personally, did not see any of the council members violating the Open Meetings Act, which are claims made in the article.
Every single council member also went on the record Monday night, saying they did not violate the Open Meetings Act when making their decision; rather it was a decision made independently, after members of the public raised concerns over a news article, which claims that some of council members were meeting privately to come to a resolution before Monday.
The article also includes a direct quote from one council-member admitting to it.
Meantime, the new council leadership says they are ready to put this behind them and move ahead.
“I think it is important for us to move forward and one of my issues right along had been to make sure that we didn’t have somebody that was running for elections, Patricia isn’t running for election,” Lansing City Council President, Carol Wood said. “I think we’re working together, some of the shortfalls that we both might have, will be able to work together to make sure that council moves forward the way it should.”
“It was at times contentious, but in the end, I am hopeful that we’re going to move together, move forward as a council to get the work of the city done,” Spitzley said. “When I ran for election, I ran on the fact that I am for the city of Lansing, that’s my primary focus. There’s always going to be discussions on how that gets done and there’s always going to be disagreements about how that gets done, but I’m confident that we are able to work together.”
Lansing resident in attendance, including Loretta Stanaway, said the choices that were made were not bad choices.
“I am still disappointed though, that everything was done behind closed doors in sessions that didn’t involve the public and I think this council is still having a hard time grasping how much it matters to the public for there to be transparency and that these things not be done behind closed doors and there aren’t negotiated deals,” she said.
The council also made changes to it’s Development and Planning Committee Monday night, by expanding it to a 4 person committee.
Despite what seemed like countless meetings with no resolution, and sometimes harsh discussions, At-Large Council member, Judi Brown Clarke said she won’t apologize for how long it took to pick a president, saying the council was just doing it’s due diligence.
“The beauty is, we have a lot of people that want to be in leadership and that doesn’t happen often and people were very passionate about what their positions were,” Brown Clarke Said “Some things brought out the best of us, some things didn’t necessarily bring out the best of us, but what we do see is that everybody is committed to the city….what’s happening here at this dais, we keep saying precedence, this is happening all over….so to be reprimanded in the fact that we’re actually having challenges and philosophical differences and everyone is passionate about the direction that we’re going in.
Brown Clarke also said the council’s original schedule was Jan. 9, 2017 and Jan. 30, 2017.
“If we had seated leadership on Jan. 9th, we would have committees in place on Jan. 30th, we are not off our timeline that’s very important to note,” she said. “We’ve just had intermediary meetings to get to the leadership piece and so I’m going to push back as it relates to us as a body, no this wasn’t an easy process, and yes leadership is going to have to mend because it wasn’t an easy process… but I’m not just going to let us get reprimanded for the fact that we did our due diligence.”
UPDATE: It took days of contentious meetings but it appears Patricia Spitzley, At-Large Councilmember, has been selected as President of the Lansing City Council. Longtime council member Carol Wood has been nominated as Vice-President. The nominations came in tonight’s Committee of the Whole meeting and final approval is expected at tonight’s City Council meeting.
LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Here’s a story you’ve heard before: the Lansing City Council still hasn’t picked a president and they’re trying again to do it tonight after hours of gridlock.
We’ve been to their last three meetings where the group can’t break it’s 4-to-4 tie when they vote.
The problem is, they can’t vote on anything else or even hold normal meetings until they decide on someone to lead the council.
Lansing city clerk Chris Swope says if a decision isn’t made tonight the council can vote to bring in a mediator.
This story is developing tonight and will be updated online and on 6 News.