Friday, April 17, 2009

Believe it or Not: Standing Room Only at Township

I could hardly believe my eyes. People were lined up out the door at the Ela Township Annual Meeting on Tuesday. By the time the meeting got down to business, there were 75 people sitting and standing around the room, watching democracy in action.

Why the interest? A group of citizens, calling themselves the Ela Township Progressives, had managed to follow new, stricter state rules and get a citizens’ resolution on the meeting agenda. In addition, attendees had been made aware (through phone calls) that at township Annual Meetings, unlike every other meeting of the year, regular citizens can vote on the agenda and force officials to do things they may not want to do.

In this case, the citizens' group simply wanted to force the township board to be more transparent. Their resolution asked the township to do a few common sense things to make their workings more accessible to citizens: 1) televise meetings and stream them online 2) post approved budgets online and 3) post approved expenditures online, including amount and payee.

Supporters of the resolution and detractors turned out in almost even numbers. A vote to control the moderator position at the meeting, in fact, was a dead-even tie. It had to be decided by a coin toss.

As it turned out, before the resolution was considered, there was considerable discussion among the citizens about the township’s budget and expenditures. A 100% increase in the budget for the road commissioner, in particular, drew much criticism. So it was not very surprising that, in the end, the vote for the transparency resolution was supported by a unanimous voice vote, even among the board members in the audience. Even they couldn’t bring themselves to vote against good government, I guess.

It remains to be seen whether the Ela Township board will actually implement the resolution. The Ela Township Progressives tell me they will be watching.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ela Township won't do anything, Lucy Pouty is too busy golfing on the taxpayers dollar to worry about such foolishness such as open government. Someone had better keep an eye on Ela Township. Taxpayers in Ela Township had better keep an eye on their wallets!