Source: Sherman Publications

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The age of consent

by Laura Colvin

April 28, 2010

It's not what you think. Really.

It's more about me (and others, I hope) listening with furrowed forehead on first and third Mondays, to things from the Orion Township Board of Trustees that just don't make sense.

Or not listening, as the case may be, when things show up on the consent agenda and there's nothing to hear. And all kinds of things are showing up on the consent agenda these days - 13 items offered up for sweeping, no-discussion approval at the April 19 meeting, in fact.

Here's how the Michigan Municipal League defines the type of items appropriate for a spot on that list: "A consent agenda may be used to allow council to act on numerous administrative or noncontroversial items at one time. Included can be noncontroversial matters such as approval of minutes, payment of bills, approval of recognition resolutions, etc."

Administrative or noncontroversial. OK, got it.

Luckily, any member of the council can move items from the consent agenda to the regular agenda for discussion.

Trustee JoAnn VanTassel pulled five items from the April 19 consent agenda. Included was a request to rename committee (an interesting discussion, as it turned out); the township's tax abatement policy resolution, furlough days; 2010-11 water rates and the General Motors water tower agreement.

And what about some of the remaining items, like the awarding of bids for fire station architectural services?

Are any of these items administrative or noncontroversial? What in the world are they doing on the consent agenda in the first place?

The board justifies: "Come on in any time and look at the documents, talk to us."

Nope. Last time I checked, inviting Joe Public to township offices for a chat did not constitute a public meeting - and that, my friends, is the place to conduct public business. In public. So everyone can see. After all, what could you possibly have to hide?