The Dorr Township Board’s controversial closed session Oct. 26 was discussed in open session Thursday night. Nothing was disclosed, but approval of the minutes was tabled on a contentious 4-3 vote.
Treasurer Jim Martin was the first to object to simply accepting the minutes by moving to amend the minutes “to reflect what actually happened and what was discussed (in the closed meeting).”
After Trustee John Tuinstra suggested the treasurer present his amendment in writing, Martin added, “I don’t see why we’re being so secretive about this… If the minutes were right, I wouldn’t have a problem.”
Townbroadcast earlier this month officially filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), asking for the minutes and maintaining the closed meeting was called in error. Trustee Terri Rios asked for the executive session to discuss an employee matter, which is permitted under the Open Meetings Act, but when the board reconvened in open session, no action was taken and Supervisor Jeff Miling said meeting was not about an employee, but instead was theresult of a misunderstanding.
Townbroadcast has insisted, as a result, the closed session was improper and was called not for one of the three specified permitted reasons under the OMA, but an opportunity to have a secret discussion about something embarrassing.
The FOIA request was denied by Clerk Debbie Sewers.
Sewers maintained she was only following the advice of the township attorney on the matter.
Trustee Josh Otto said said. “The whole thing was frustrating to me.”
Martin further asked, “How I can I approve minutes without seeing them?” and suggested Sewers did not properly take minutes of the closed session.
Sewers replied, “So you’re going to tell me what to do? I didn’t take those kinds of notes.”
Martin moved to have the proposed minutes tabled for revision and Sewers then said she would then have to contact the attorney for the third time on this matter.
Voting with Martin were Otto, Trustee John Tuinstra and Supervisor Jeff Miling, though he agonized over his vote for almost a minute. Voting to accept the closed meeting minutes were Sewers, Dan Weber and Rios.
The closed meeting was requested not long after Tuinstra was accused of deliberately taping a Planning Commission meeting of Oct. 17 and leaving the device running on top of a defibrillator on a wall in the township hall. Townbroadcast and at least two members of the Planning Commission have contended Rios has wanted to catch Chairman Bob Wagner illegally holding a meeting after the Plan Commission has adjourned to discredit him and have him removed.