Source: Sherman Publications

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Residents frustrated by closed session wait

by Trevor Keiser

September 28, 2011

After waiting nearly two hours for Independence Township trustees to come out of closed session, frustrated resident Rae LuAllen had enough.

"I'm sorry, but I have other things to do than to sit here while they're in a closed session," LuAllen said.

Interacting with the public is part of the job as elected officials, she said.

"This is their only interaction with us unless we drive to township hall," she said. "Personally as a citizen and a taxpayer of the township I want to be able to interact with all of them."

Resident Tammie Heazlit also felt the board was wrong.

"They should be conducting their business in a way that doesn't interfere with our ability to participate in the public meeting," Heazlit said.

Trustee David Lohmeier offered his "sincere apologies," but said "the topic needed the focus and attention."

"Maybe we'll have to put more of a buffer period and tell people the official non-closed session won't start until 8 p.m., (and the board) suck it up and stay there until 1 a.m. if we have to," he said.

Pallotta said they will schedule a special meeting if they expect a long closed session.

"I want to get the meeting going just as much as the public does," she said.

Trustee Larry Rosso also felt bad.

"In this situation the public was a victim of our inability to schedule closed meetings and not give the public a heads up that this would take some time," Rosso said.

Rosso also agreed a special meeting for long closed sessions is the "best solution."

Treasurer Curt Carson said it was "unfortunate."

"We should be able to get our business done," Carson said. "There are townships our size that are doing business in less time than one meeting a month."

Trustee Mark Petterson called it "absolutely wrong."

"No matter what the meeting should be starting at 7:30 when the public expects it too," Petterson said.