The Truth About Public Hearings

After I wrote a post called ‘The Grants Go Marching On’, I attended a Design Committee Meeting for Michigan Main Street Oct. 20/2010 where by an amazing coincidence, George Brown decided to enlighten Andrea Cueto about the purpose for holding a Public Hearing. Public Hearings, he said was to let the public know the way things are going to go. I don’t know if George just didn’t know, was misinformed or he was just trying to misinform me, I may never learn the truth. In case there are others in the community that have been misinformed or just learning about how local government works, I found this from the Michigan Municipal League, an organization that publishes handbooks for Village Officials.

Public hearings
Council rules should also include a procedure for public hearings. Public hearings offer citizens an opportunity to be heard – a strength of a representative democracy. Even if not required by law, a public hearing can be useful in helping village officials understand how their constituents feel and why they feel that way.

Public hearings are a formal meeting of the council to obtain input from the public, and are a legal requirement for some matters, such as adoption of the annual budget or changing the local zoning ordinance. They should be viewed as a serious effort on the part of village officials to secure as much information as possible about a topic before a final decision is made. A hearing may either be a part of a regular council meeting or be held at a special meeting called for that purpose.

Judging by the fact the applications were already approved to be filled out and submitted by the third-party administrator (through the County Commissioner) and the tax break incentives already approved by council (to meet a Friday deadline Oct. 1/2010) was already passed by the time the public hearing was held, it certainly looks like the public hearing for the rental rehabilitation grants was held after the all the decisions were made. The Public Hearing was motioned and approved at the Oct.11/2010 council meeting. 

It doesn’t surprise me that ‘they’ have tried to reduce the role I’m playing to simply a ‘Smear Campaign’ I can see why they’d prefer that over a ‘Truth/Accountability’ Campaign. Not even I want you to take my word for anything because the best way to determine how you are being represented is to attend some meetings and watch the deliberative process.

Whether or not you decide to regularly attend meetings, if there ever comes a time where you’d like to express your concerns, I’ve got some firsthand knowledge about how you should prepare:

  • Bring all documentation to substantiate your claim, don’t assume the board members will remember what they have passed, even if it was only two weeks ago.
  • Bring a tape recorder and tape the exchange, you never know when you’ll be called a liar. You also never know when you’ll be lied to. You can also count on officials that have pertinent information to corroborate your point will remain silent.

 

The reason I support Mark Burgermeister and Mike Gunter is not because they will always agree with me or I with them, it’s because I have never witnessed this kind of behavior from them. I never saw them scramble to put on airs at a public hearing or deliberately attempt to refute the facts or scheme to misinform the public. I never saw or heard of them entrenching themselves and commandeering a supposed ‘for the community’ volunteer group to hatch plans and to further their agenda either.

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