SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF NOVI
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1996 - 6:30 P.M. AND
MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1996 - 6:00 P.M.
ACTIVITIES ROOM - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 6:30 P.M.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor Pro Tem Crawford, Council Members Clark, Mitzel, Mutch, Schmid
ALSO PRESENT: City Clerk Tonni Bartholomew
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
1. Consideration for the Filling of Vacant City Council Seat
Mayor McLallen reported Council has until December 11, 1996 to make their appointment. The Mayor explained the appointment is by City Charter and their charge is to fill the unexpired term until the next general election in November 1997. Further, the candidate must receive a simple majority vote to be chosen. She added they are considering six candidates.
Mayor McLallen asked Council to evaluate what they and the City are looking for the next eleven months. Mayor McLallen advised that she has received many compliments about the productivity and focus of the current Council. She would like to continue their focus moving forward. Mayor McLallen described the current diversity between the members and how well they represent the community.
Councilwoman Mutch thinks that remembering that people have not stepped forward to be on City Council is important. The current candidates are people that Council Members suggested or were people suggested by others to Council. Further, they have discussed the candidates privately because it enables them to speak more freely.
Councilman Schmid reported he spent a great deal of time thinking about this appointment. Further, this is one of the most important and difficult things Council will do in 1996 and 1997. Councilman Schmid’s selection is someone who has no political ambitions, no agendas, and could come to Council with an open mind. He believes they should select someone who would represent the City fairly and can make a judgement based upon all of the facts.
Councilman Clark agrees with Councilman Schmid’s comments about what qualities Council should be looking for in terms of their selection. Further, he suggested the voting process should be done by secret ballot.
Councilman Mitzel said Council may agree about selecting someone who is objective and reasonable, but asked if all six of them can agree on one person.
Mayor ProTem Crawford agrees that Council is looking for all those things described by Councilman Schmid. Further, he does not know what procedure they should use and believes Councilman Clark’s suggestion is a possibility. He further suggested that they discuss the procedures before they nominate. He hopes once a majority is found that it will then become a unanimous vote.
Mayor McLallen said this process was different from the appointment of Councilman Clark in that presenting a unanimous face was important for Council. When they reached a unanimous vote, the Mayor believed that was a tribute to Council. Further, the issue of the secret ballot has come up before and she has no problem with it if Council is comfortable with it.
Councilman Clark stated if Council does not vote tonight, they could still agree on names and vote at another meeting.
Councilwoman Mutch took a que from the Mayor by considering if the candidate was appointed to their position or whether they are a volunteer. She then considered whether the candidate can work with the current Council. She is not looking at political positions or ideology. She believes the candidate should have a track record that demonstrates they are ethical, intelligent, articulate, does their homework, takes Council responsibility seriously and respects self and others.
Councilman Schmid suggested Jim Antosiak, ZBA Chairman as a candidate. Further, he believes he is the type who will listen to argue and will serve as a compromise.
Mayor McLallen advised that Mr. Antosiak is one of the six names. She asked Council which process do they want to follow?
Councilwoman Mutch suggested they each write down a name and have Mrs. Bartholomew do a count to narrow the field.
Councilman Clark said if a name gets four votes, then that person is elected.
Councilwoman Mutch said the reason she is suggesting this is because Councilman Schmid said it may not be a preference, but would be a compromise.
Councilman Clark said they could begin by writing the names and see how many names they end up with.
Councilwoman Mutch said in that particular case, if Councilman Schmid were to put down his compromise, there may be three other votes for his preferred candidate.
Councilman Clark assumes he will vote for his preferred.
Councilman Mitzel believes they should write down two names to narrow the field.
Councilman Clark explained if one name gets four votes, then the vote is done.
Each member provided one name to Mrs. Bartholomew.
For a point of clarification for the minutes, Mrs. Bartholomew asked whether they should be topical or detailed. Mayor McLallen replied they should be topical stating that Council is in the process of establishing a short list.
For the audience’s information, Mayor McLallen explained the process of how Council arrives at and eliminates candidates. She said they are trying to keep it as nonpartisan as possible. Further, she reported in the past the City has done a disservice to some people who have been generous with their time. She stated the candidates on the current list have been spoken to by Council members and this Council vowed that they would not do publicly what has been done in the past.
Councilwoman Mutch said that saying that Council did not sit in a closed room is important. She advised the public in various ways has suggested candidates, which Council has seriously considered.
Mayor ProTem Crawford reported the candidate list has been as high as fifteen to twenty people. Mayor ProTem Crawford said if they cannot reach a consensus tonight, he suggested that they keep the three names and not introduce anyone new.
Councilman Schmid and Mayor McLallen believe the current candidates are excellent public servants now.
Councilwoman Mutch advised she went "outside" to neighbors and friends of the candidates to help make her decision.
Councilman Schmid is concerned that Council may dead lock Monday night.
Mayor ProTem Crawford is also concerned, but believes both names may not have been considered yet by some members. He believes they would have the next week to learn more about them and may change their votes.
Councilwoman Mutch suggested they recess this meeting to a special meeting before the next regular Council meeting.
The results of the circulation of names were:
1st circulation - James Antosiak, Edward Kramer and Laura Lorenzo.
2nd circulation - James Antosiak, Edward Kramer and Laura Lorenzo.
(Laura Lorenzo’s name was eliminated due to being the lowest selection.)
3rd circulation - James Antosiak and Edward Kramer.
4th circulation - James Antosiak and Edward Kramer.
CM-96-11-415: Moved by Mitzel, Seconded by Clark, MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To recess Special Meeting of November 25, 1996 until Monday, December 2, 1996 at 6:00 P.M. at a location to be determined.
Vote on CM-96-11-415: Yeas: McLallen, Crawford, Clark, Mitzel, Mutch, Schmid
Mayor McLallen reported the meeting recessed at 7:45 P.M.
Mayor McLallen reconvened the meeting to order at 6:10 P.M. , December 2, 1996 in the Activities Room.
Mayor McLallen advised this is a Special Meeting and is a continuation of the November 25, 1996 meeting. The purpose of the meeting is the consideration and discussion for the filling of the Council vacancy.
ROLL CALL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor Pro Tem Crawford, Council Members Clark, Mitzel, Mutch, Schmid
ALSO PRESENT: City Clerk Tonni Bartholomew, Assistant City Attorney Dennis Watson
Mayor McLallen asked Assistant City Attorney Dennis Watson to comment on the process.
Mr. Watson stated he had the opportunity to review a copy of the initial rough draft of the November 25 minutes. He said it appeared the process they took was to submit names to the City Clerk in a sequential fashion to narrow down the number of candidates. The problem with this process is that they did not save the tally slips and there is no way to reconstruct what the actual votes were. Mr. Watson said that would then cause a problem with the Open Meetings Act. The act requires that all Council meetings be open to the public which would include decisions and deliberations. Mr. Watson said this did not mean that the process cannot go on, but the significance is that Council should not consider itself bound to only those last two names. The process in the Charter for filling a vacancy should be treated just like any other appointment. It would be by nomination and majority vote.
Mayor McLallen said it was her understanding when they recessed the last meeting that Council narrowed their choice to two candidates and Council Members needed more time to become acquainted with them. She added at this point, they should continue their discussion about what would benefit the City. If Council feels they are ready to make nominations, they can end this meeting, go into the Regular Council Meeting and amend the agenda to include nominations and perhaps make an appointment. Mayor McLallen reminded Council they have until December 11, 1996 to make their selection according to the City Charter.
Mr. Watson stated the provision in the Charter that addresses vacancies in elective offices indicates within thirty days after the vacancy occurs, it is to be filled for a term expiring on the date of the next City election by appointment of a person possessing the qualifications of the office by a majority vote of the members of Council. Further, if they do not fill the position within thirty days or if three or more vacancies exist simultaneously, then they have to be filled by a special election.
Mayor McLallen asked Mr. Watson to expound on how they call a special election and what the parameters for citizens having their name on the ballot?
Mr. Watson replied that the City would have to provide a notice of a special election at least ninety days prior to the election as provided by the Charter. Candidates would have a time prior to the election to submit nominating petitions or ballots just like any other City election.
Mayor McLallen asked what the time frame would be?
Councilwoman Mutch replied it would be between sixty and ninety days. Mr. Watson concurred.
Mayor McLallen said the City would still hold the November election. She then said eighty days from December 11 would be February 11 and asked if the election would then follow?
Mrs. Bartholomew replied it would be at least eighty days and the 100 to 200 signatures would have to be certified on the petitions within ten days or the candidate could pay $100.00. Mrs. Bartholomew reported they would not hold the election until mid-March.
Mayor McLallen said if the election did not take place until mid-March, that would mean that person would only serve until November. Mayor McLallen asked what is the cost?
Mrs. Bartholomew replied the cost is close to $30,000. She advised the cost for the election workers alone is approximately $15,000. The total cost also includes the coding of the machines, the inspectors certifying the machines, the public notices and staff over time.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if they held a special election would that person have to decide in June whether or not they would want to run again in November? Mrs. Bartholomew agreed, but added they have to decide so they can call a special primary if they have one more than three times the numbers of names available. Further, they would have to make it according to the September City primary. If there are insufficient names, then it would be November, but it is calling for September.
Councilwoman Mutch said a person who was elected in March would have to know within a matter of several months whether or not they would want to run for that seat or not because of the petition deadline. Further, the number of people who file those determines whether there is a September primary. Mrs. Bartholomew agreed.
Councilwoman Mutch asked how many people are required to fully staff the precincts according to the state law? Mrs. Bartholomew replied there are seventeen precincts with one AV Counting Board. Further, there is a minimum of four election workers per precinct, but they typically have five. In a large November election there may be six to seven workers.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if that includes City staff? Mrs. Bartholomew replied they try not to use City staff for anything other than the final count. Councilwoman Mutch clarified by asking if that included the staff people in the Clerk’s office? Mrs. Bartholomew said the count did not include them.
Councilman Schmid is trying to decide what the best approach would be. Although he does not have a problem with holding an election, $30,000 is a lot of money to him. In retrospect, he wishes they had interviewed the prospective candidates. If they can’t agree, he asked if there is sufficient time to interview so they can make a decision this week? He added they agreed with the process that Councilman Clark suggested at their last meeting and asked if they can come up with another process?
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if they reach a consensus, is that going to happen as a result of this meeting or are they going to add it to tonight’s agenda for the Regular Meeting?
Mayor McLallen replied the question before Council is whether they are comfortable to go into their Regular Meeting, amend the agenda and make a decision?
Mayor ProTem Crawford said he understood and concurs with what the Mayor stated. He reiterated they began a lengthy process with fifteen names and was narrowed down to six or seven. He advised they now have two names before them and he is comfortable with the process. He added it is virtually the same process they went through when they appointed Councilman Clark. He said they narrowed their candidates to James Antosiak and Edward Kramer and suggested that both names be put into nomination at this meeting so they can vote on it. If there is a consensus, then either that person will be appointed to Council or they will begin the process again. He asked if they do this now, what will happen at the Regular Meeting?
Mayor McLallen replied one issue based on the Open Meetings Act is that Council is not bound to just consider these two names. Further, this is an open public meeting and Council wishes to go to a vote right now, they can.
Mayor ProTem Crawford realizes this can be open to anyone, but his point is, they have already gone through that process and have eliminated everyone except these two names. If they go with that suggestion, where do they go if Council has a consensus? He asked if they can announce the appointment at the Regular Meeting and do they renominate the candidate for the record?
Mr. Watson advised it would depend upon what action Council takes at this time. If Council makes a motion to appoint someone with a majority vote, then they will have appointed that person.
That is what Mayor ProTem Crawford’s question is. He asked how do they announce that appointment? Mr. Watson replied they could just make an announcement at the Regular Meeting.
Mayor ProTem Crawford moved to place into nomination James Antosiak and Edward Kramer and that Council vote on it at the Special Meeting. Further, if there is a majority, then they appoint that person and they will make an announcement at the Regular Meeting.
Mayor McLallen asked if the motion is to create a nomination ballot for the appointment of the City Council vacancy and those candidates would be James Antosiak and Edward Kramer? Mayor ProTem Crawford said that was correct.
Mayor McLallen reported the motion died from lack of support.
Councilman Clark agrees with Councilman Schmid’s comments. He added they should not feel restricted to two names and he has no objection to interviewing other candidates. Given the busy week for the City, he suggested they go into their Regular meeting and make the nominations that would allow citizens to give their input before they make the nominations.
Mayor McLallen asked if there is a consensus among Council to go into the Regular Meeting and amend the agenda to take nominations.
Councilman Schmid thinks it is fair, but asked what will they do if that process fails?
Councilwoman Mutch does not want the public to think they made this decision in a vacuum and that they gave no public consideration. She is certain she is not the only person who has talked with every candidate suggested and she believes she knows them better after speaking with them. She believes it is important to note that in trying to narrow the focus they also wanted spare those people who are in the final five or six choices, but did not ask to be thrown into the spotlight. Many of them did not ask to have the pros and cons of their public service discussed in an open meeting. She thinks they should respect the fact that most of these people are private citizens and not public figures.
Councilman Schmid advised the final six or seven were spoken to in a series of telephone conversations. He thinks it is important to emphasize the same process was used to appoint Councilman Clark and he believes it worked well. He added that is probably why they used the same process this time.
Mr. Watson advised Council should have an Audience Participation before they can complete the meeting.
Glen Bonaventura reported he was one of four citizens who attended the last meeting and that the less public attending, the less of a public meeting it is. In Mr. Bonaventura’s opinion the last meeting was a sham. The process suggested by Councilman Clark was wrong and this process is wrong. Mr. Bonaventura said the nominations and tallies for a secret ballot process are not kept secret, but who voted for who is kept secret. He added that he has never before attended a public meeting where they are discussing something, but they mention nothing. He thinks one of the reasons that they did not criticize the process when they nominated Mr. Clark was because the City was recovering from a tragic loss. Secondly, Mr. Clark was an excellent choice. This appointment is different in that the person who left was very open about it and now they have a process where nobody wants to mention any names. Mr. Bonaventura argued anyone who wants to be a member of Council must first be under the scrutiny of the public, the newspaper and anybody else just as if they run for Council.
James Korte cannot understand why they are holding a meeting of this importance in the Parks and Recreation Activities Room. Further, this decision is vitally important to the City for the next year and he asked why isn’t it televised when the Council Chamber is available for media coverage?
Mrs. Roder was shocked at the method that was used. She does not have a problem with one appointee to Council, but she does have a problem with two appointments. If almost 25% of the Council is not elected by the people, they are not getting a fair representation of the people. She asked Council to consider holding an election even if it costs the City $30,000 because it would be $30,000 well spent.
Lynn Kocan believes the difference in the process from a year ago was that Council was called to discuss the names before them. Further, she was able to call Council Members to discuss the names because she knew the names. It was her understanding that the names could not be discussed with the residents. Consequently, Ms. Kocan asked how can Council get her input?
An unidentified speaker commented on Councilman Schmid’s statement that there was no controversy over Mr. Clark’s appointment. Part of the reason for that was that many of Mr. Clark’s ideals were similar to his predecessor. He asked Council to consider this when they appoint someone to this seat.
Mr. Jocz said Council is asking some basic procedural process questions. Mr. Jocz explained Council knew about the possibility of this vacancy since the Republican primary and he does not understand why Council is still fumbling with some technical issues about how to go about filling this vacancy. In addition, by waiting they may be forced to make a decision they may not be happy with because they are letting time dictate them versus logic. Secondly, he disagrees with the withholding of the candidates names on the original list. Further, those people who did not express a desire to be a candidate, but could be talked into it showed a lack of commitment to Mr. Jocz.
Ernie Aruffo appreciated Mr. Watson’s explanation of the process. Further, he would like Council to make a decision tonight.
Ruth Hamilton stated Richard Clark has been an asset to the City of Novi, but that does not mean she approves of the process. She asked Council to consider what Nancy Cassis stood for and choose someone who will uphold those same beliefs. She also hopes Council will uphold their own beliefs and ideals when they said they would be promoting from within.
Mr. Young asked what will happen if they make no consensus? The Mayor replied Council will go into the next meeting and try to reach a consensus. If that does not occur, then Council will have to reconsider its options. She said they still have until Friday before Council leaves town for a meeting. She advised Council will do whatever it takes to get this appointment done and if it is not done, an election will have to be called.
Councilwoman Mutch thinks if people feel that Council should not have the authority to appoint, then people should look at changing the Charter. Councilwoman Mutch believes Council should have the authority to appoint.
Mayor ProTem Crawford stated Council did not make the names public so that they could help facilitate the process, but it was not their intent to keep it from the public. Mayor ProTem Crawford reported he has spoken freely with the public and other Council members about the ten to fifteen people on the list. Further, he would be happy to discuss whom he thought were the top ten, the middle six or seven and so on down the list.
Councilman Schmid recalls that this will be the fourth appointment in the last twenty years.
There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 6:55 P.M.
Mayor City Clerk
Transcribed by Barbara Holmes
Date Approved: December 16, 1996