The Constantine Village Council – with a somewhat different cast as a result of the November 6th general election – met in regular session Monday evening (December 3rd).
Pat Weiss, former village president, was back in that role after defeating Ruth Strawser in last month’s balloting.
MacKenzie Strawser, who served as village president the last two years, shifted to her new role as a village trustee.
Cindy LaFluer moved from being a trustee to village clerk, succeeding Ruth Strawser who, instead of seeking another term as clerk, competed with Weiss for the office of village president.
New to the council is Cathy Piper, in place as a trustee after running as a write-in candidate.
Also new to the village government lineup is Mindy Hulse as village treasurer. She was elected to the post in November and succeeds Donna Strawser who decided to retire from the position she held for 21 years.
Gary Mathers, Bob Brewer, Willie Harder and Dick Larrance are continuing their service as village trustees.
The meeting brought the adoption of resolutions honoring Donna Strawser, Ruth Strawser and Sarah Moore for their service to the village. Moore served as a trustee, but did not seek re-election. Donna Strawser was on hand for the meeting and Weiss presented the framed resolution to her.
In presiding over the meeting, Weiss suggested that references to the ‘audience participation’ portion of the ‘newsletter minutes’ from the November 19th meeting, written by former Clerk Ruth Strawser, and a summary of results from the November 6th election included in the document be omitted. She contended that “only the official business be included in the minutes for publication in the newsletter, and I don’t think that the audience participation is part of the official business so I would suggest that that be omitted.”
Village Manager Mark Honeysett indicated the election results were not in the last newsletter “because of an oversight on our part” and said, “I know that, at the last election, they were included in the minutes, but they’re not really part of the meeting minutes so I don’t know that it’s necessary or appropriate that they be there.”
Trustee Bob Brewer objected to the proposed omission. He said, “I guess I have a problem with that. I hear a lot of times people in town here see this newsletter and they think they’re missing a lot of information and, if we’re going to eliminate the newsletter, we should post the regular minutes so that they can get a complete rundown of what was done at the meetings.”
Weiss said, “That’s available at the village office” and indicated that past council action established the practice of creating abbreviated minutes for the newsletter. She said, “We were trying to save money in the newsletter” and the council action “a couple years ago” was intended to “free up space in the newsletter” because it was getting to be a “very lengthy report.”
In the end, the council voted 6-to-1 to approve the newsletter minutes as presented with Weiss casting the dissenting vote.
Donna Strawser, just retired from the office of village treasurer, weighed in on the minutes issue during the ‘audience participation’ portion of the meeting that came immediately after the vote. She said, “I’d like to echo a little bit of what Mr. Brewer said. In going about town, and seeing about the petition for election of the clerk and the treasurer to put on the ballot, I have talked to many, many people and they are saying, ‘We don’t get much news of what’s going on at the council,’ and I don’t know. For 21 years, I saw three managers, lots of council people and I don’t think you should fear saying what’s going on in the council. I think you should be very open and above board and let the people know what you’re doing here and then that would take away whatever stigma or something about trying to put something under the rug. I think that you’re brave enough people to say what you mean, to do what you think is right, and not be afraid to let the people know what you’re doing. Thank you.”
To hear the council discussion and action regarding the ‘newsletter minutes’ issue – and the comments on the subject by Donna Strawser – click here (5:29 – 5.02 MB).
In other business, the council:
- appointed Jamie Judsen, Greg Hoover and Dr. John Schroer to serve on Constantine’s Downtown Development Authority
- adopted a council meeting schedule for 2013 that will have the council holding its regular meetings on the first and third Monday each month except for April 1, September 2 and December 2
- adopted a resolution as a ‘notice of intent’ to seek a Downtown Infrastructure Grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to improve the public parking lot on the east side of South Washington Street
- and agreed to seek bids for replacement of ‘underdrains’ on all four filters at the village’s water treatment plant.