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Residents are calling for the AG to investigate any alleged Open Meetings Act violations in Scio Township

Residents are calling for the AG to investigate any alleged Open Meetings Act violations in Scio Township

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI - A group of about a dozen Scio Township residents are calling for Michigan's top prosecutor to intervene in remediing the allegations that state law was violated to provide public accountability in the government.

Since August, they have submitted 15 individual complaints to the state Attorney General's Office concerning the township board's inability to approve meeting notes and the official record of government proceedings.

State officials "will warn the township to get their actions together," according to the Scio resident who sent the complaints, signed by 12 other residents. "There's no excuse for ignorance of the law."

According to Mukomel, the Attorney General's Office will not give an opinion on the merits of the complaints at this time, but they are under review.

In total, 14 draft minutes dating back to August 17 have been drafted up for consideration and were submitted, most frequently through split votes, and amid accusations the records dont properly reflect conflicting township proceedings, or were not provided far enough in advance by Township Clerk Jessica Flintoft.

As a result of this meeting, Flintoft has urged the rest of the board to include specific revisions or additions to the minutes.

Some township leaders have expressed concern over the accuracy and impartiality of the minutes, arguing that the issues go beyond what could be fixed by a line-by-line review.

They went so far as to examine corrections to 13 draft notes that had been piled up.

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Will Hathaway, the Township's commissioner, apologized for his sarcastic response.

Hathaway has proposed that the township board again review the documents, this time until a meeting on December 28, at 7 p.m., offering time for the township's to review the documents and offer suggestions.

Kathleen Knol, a Trustee who has argued with Flintoft in voting against the repeated submission of the documents, received opposition.

A 4-2 vote to approve Hathaway's proposal will continue, with Trustee Jacqueline Courteau, who first raised issues with minutes in September, absent, and Knol and Flintoft in the opposition.

The minutes from a contentious election, where the board granted a double of Hathaway's salary, were among the records in limbo, according to a press release.

A lawsuit filed by a resident has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the decision and declaring that it violated Michigan law, all allegations that the township denies in legal filings.

The failure to comply with the OK minutes may entitle the township to being placed in the courtroom.

The Michigan Press Association deputy general counsel, Jennifer Dukarski, previously stated that the repeated presentation of the minutes was a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

James Fink, the township's attorney, has declined to comment on residents' complaints to the Attorney General or discuss advice to township leaders.

Hathway said he considers the minutes as a problem he's working to solve.

The draft minutes of the meetings of August were kind of like a car accident that happened on the highway and it blocked all the traffic behind it.

According to the supervisor, the large amount of detail provided in the documents let elected officials two solutions: reduce the minutes to more minimalist descriptions of votes and actions taken, or balance them with comments he claimed were omitted from the drafts.

The township has a longer history in terms of difficulties with minutes, he said, referencing a backlog in receiving draft minutes from the clerk last year, which he described as a violation of state law as the moment.

Concerns over liability as well as the pending trial have been raised, according to the supervisor.

I think its unfortunate that people would choose this as a path to go down, he said.

More information is available in The Ann Arbor News:

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