Up until November 2015, the City Charter required that the City publish the Council’s proceedings in the newspaper. The City’s electorate approved the following City Charter amendment change by a very narrow margin.
Shall Section 3.14 of the City Charter be amended to provide that City Council proceedings or an abstract of proceedings shall be published on the official Website for the City of New Buffalo once within fifteen days after each Council meeting?
To fulfill this Charter requirement and to provide further transparency to the citizens of New Buffalo, the City Council voted to provide live video feed of all their meetings as well as all the committee meetings. The live video feed was immediately archived and the residents of the City could review them at will. This allowed the city clerk to begin abbreviated minutes since meeting details could easily be accessed on the video feed. This change was very well received by the community and it allowed people in their homes to view the city council meetings. It brought city government to the citizens, how great is that?
But the following is now displayed on the City’s official website.
Effective February, 2018, the City will no longer be able to provide live feed nor audio/video of City meetings after January 9, 2018.
Why is the City no longer providing this service? Did the City Council make this decision or did the city employees decide to ignore the City Council decision made in 2015? This really is a blow to government transparency but it also creates a City Charter violation by the City because the amendment requirement of the proceedings or abstract of Council meetings be posted within 15 days of the meeting.
When I pointed out the violation to City Clerk Lori Vander Clay, she ignored it. If it is a decision by City Manager Dave Richards or City Clerk Lori Vander Clay to violate the City Charter, they should be terminated. And if the City Council voted to reverse the 2015 decision to broadcast the meetings, will City Clerk Vander Clay be directed to provide more comprehensive minutes and audio recordings for better transparency?
But the bigger question here is why are the meetings no longer videotaped? It is under the leadership of Mayor O’Donnell, and City Council members Ennis, Kroll, Robertson, and Spirito that they are choosing to shroud the City’s proceedings in secrecy. Why would the members of the City Council reverse the very popular decision made by the Council in 2015? Is it because they don’t want to be accountable for their actions or do they have something to hide?
As with all the other decisions by the current Council members, they will not address this City Charter violation. They are all powerful, believing there is no need to follow the Charter, ordinances, or policies unless a citizen uses the legal system to force compliance.