SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1995 - AT 6:30 PM EST
COUNCIL CHAMBERS - NOVI CIVIC CENTER
ROLL CALL: Council Members Crawford (present), Mason (absent), Mitzel (present), Pope (present), Schmid (present), Toth (present), Mayor McLallen (present)
Present (6) Absent (1-Mason)
Councilwoman Mason arrived at 6:45 PM
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
1. Continuation of Council Rules Discussion
Mayor McLallen said the purpose of the meeting was for the Council to continue on the working draft for the Council rules and order of business. She said they were working off the draft of January 27, 1995.
D: MISCELLANEOUS - Page 12
D.1. Cablecasting Policy
D.1.3 Video Recordings
Mr. Toth said he thought all meetings should be cablecast so that the residents have the benefit of seeing every meeting.
Mr. Crawford asked if this was the previous agreed upon language.
Mr. Toth said it was.
Mr. Crawford said if there were changes he would like to know where they are.
Mr. Toth said any change that had been made would have a number by it.
Mr. Crawford asked what the number 15 after the statement in D.1.4 Video Funding meant.
Mayor McLallen stated the change was just a statement that the current funding only cablecasts those meetings. She said there are obviously sub-committee meetings and other meetings that occur with elected and appointed boards that are not cablecast.
Councilman Pope said that is the current language in the rules
now and he didn't know what the change was.
Councilman Crawford asked if that was the language in our rules or was it the language that the committee suggested. He said there could be a slight difference there. He asked Councilman Toth if that was noted in the document.
Councilman Toth said the items that he included were shaded and numbered and if anything was changed he would have crossed it out and added another sentence.
Councilman Pope said all Councilman Toth did was add some language. He said it presently stated, "only City Council, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals Meetings would be cablecast live." Councilman Pope said Councilman Toth labeled it as Video Funding and said that present funding was in place to only cablecast those meetings. He said Councilman Toth changed the language but not the intent. He said Councilman Toth had also added Audio Recordings which was not a part of the present policy.
Councilman Crawford said he thought the intent was changed by the addition. He said it stated present funding was only in place to cablecast those meetings but that statement did not say they were the only meetings to be cablecast. He said he thought the wording did change the intent of what was presently there.
Councilman Toth said the reason was that when Cablecasting was discussed those were the only meetings that were funded. He said at the time we discussed it they did not discuss the idea that only those 3 would be cablecast.
Councilman Crawford said but that is the current policy and he thought that was the intent of the current policy to only cablecast those three meetings.
Councilman Mitzel asked if Council finalized 1, 2 and 3.
Mayor McLallen said no that they had jumped over several.
Mayor McLallen said she had the version of December 7th.
Councilman Mitzel said these are the official adopted policy rules now.
Councilman Crawford said there are really 3 different documents. He said there is the presently adopted policy from several months ago, the policy that the committee had recommended and Councilman Toth's revised policy.
Mayor McLallen said the adopted policy which was amended on May 3rd, officially adopted March 23, 1992 had 4 issues under the cable policy. She said the meetings would be live, no tapes would be retained, all Council meetings held in the Chamber would be cablecast except interviews and cameras were to remain on with sound off.
Councilman Toth said one of the things that he included and Mayor McLallen mentioned was that no video tapes shall be retained. He said the problem is if you look at D.1.3, Video Recordings, essentially what it stated was "all meetings would be cablecast live, no video recordings, no delayed tape presentation made by the City." However, he said there are" video tapes used during any meeting such as visual progress reports, traffic condition reports, special situations, etc. shall be kept and stored with the official meeting records."
Councilman Toth said when someone comes in with a video tape showing part of their project that technically should be part of the official minutes. He said what you're saying by no video tapes is that if the DPW shows the Council conditions on video tape and puts it on the speaker that is part of the official meeting and then it should be retained. He said he wanted to get that point across. He was not saying that we are saving the tapes of the meeting but if you're going to show conditions that you're going to make a decision on, displays, tapes, slides, etc. they should be made part of the official record.
Mayor McLallen said that Member Toth was bringing up an issue of tapes, etc. that are brought into the meeting. She questioned the actual ownership. She said the city did not pay to generate those and we would not have any ownership to copy them. She thought other ordinances would have to be amended so that those types of information become the property of the city or became part of the submittal. She said as an independent petitioner comes before Council and brings their own video tape Council did not have ownership of that tape and she felt there was a legal question.
Mr. Fried said it depended on what the meeting was for. He said if it was a hearing then obviously it should be made a part of the record as "Joe says" and it should go to the clerk. He said if it was not a hearing then the owner just kept the material and it would not be a part of the official record.
Councilman Crawford was not sure what the committee recommended or what we had previously. He said he was under the understanding from the previous meeting that Councilman Toth's version had everything inclusive and it was easily determined what Council was working from. He said this was all different and he didn't remember what was recommended as a committee.
Mayor McLallen said December 7th was the last committee.
Councilman Crawford said he couldn't vote on this when there were several brand new paragraphs. He apologized for not being better prepared but thought this was inclusive of what existed now, what was recommended and Councilman Toth's additions. He said this document is policy according to Councilman Toth and not according to what was adopted and what's recommended.
Councilman Toth said it was not policy according to himself. He said it was was his thoughts and concerns that this Council should address. He said whether the Council liked it or didn't like it it was something that should be considered from a legal standpoint. He said all he was raising was an issue that he thought should be legally addressed.
Councilman Crawford said he was not debating that and that may be a valid concern. He said he was talking about their procedure and the fact that he didn't have the other two policies because he thought it was all included in this policy and it was not. He said this was different than the other two policies.
Councilman Toth said what he did was take everything that was given to him that was submitted by the rules committee and everything that he was concerned with he added, shaded and numbered.
Councilman Crawford said he could not see that on this document though.
Councilman Toth said this was a photocopy of what he had before.
Councilman Crawford said Councilman Toth said there were numbers by changes and D.1.3 was a change and there was no shading and no number.
Councilman Toth said D.1.3 and D.1.4. could have been shaded but he didn't have a copy with him so he couldn't tell. He said if Councilman Crawford was working off the copy that the rules committee gave them it was mentioned that no video recordings were going to be stored.
Councilman Crawford said that was the current policy.
Councilman Toth said the issue he was raising now was certain video recordings should be retained and that might be something that the city attorney would want to address formally through a letter.
Mayor McLallen said in order to expedite this because there is an enormous amount of information. Council Members didn't all seem to have the same document. She said she had a document that was presented by Councilman Toth dated January 27, 1995, Version 1.2. She said she had a different Page 12. She said Council needed to get consensus on whether they would work off, as a working document, this particular one irrespective of the Council's Rules Committee document of December 7th. She said she did have the adopted copy and the amendments through May 3, 1993 as a back up. She said they would have to agree what they would work off of this evening.
Geraldine Stipp, City Clerk, said at the last meeting they agreed to work off Councilman Toth's copy and that was why she didn't recirculate the copy that she had sent the last time. Mrs. Stipp said she didn't realize that the shading didn't copy.
Mayor McLallen asked if it would help if they read this document and discussed the language as presented and she would try to figure out from the shading if there was a change.
She said what they had to concentrate on particularly on this issue of video recording was, does the Council want to address the issue of adding language that we don't have.
Councilman Pope said he thought that the language that was in there said "Meetings will be cablecast live and no tapes of the meetings will be retained by the city." He said that language no longer exists in Councilman Toth's version and it should because of the City Attorney's opinion regarding the Open Meetings Act and requiring that information.
Councilman Toth said D.1.3 said exactly what Councilman Pope said. It read "all meetings shall be cablecast live. No video recordings will be taken and there will be no delayed tape presentations."
Councilman Pope said "no video recordings will be taken". He asked if that meant no tapes of the meeting will be retained by the city.
Councilman Crawford said it would be cablecast live and there would not be a tape of it.
Councilman Pope asked Mr. Fried if D.1.3. met the current standard that we do not keep recordings.
Mr. Fried asked if this meant that the audience couldn't do that; it is wrong because they can.
Mr. Fried said if it said the City shall take no video recordings that would be different.
Mayor McLallen said that the Council policy would be that no tapes would be made of the meeting and no tapes would be retained by the city. She said the issue was that the city itself was not doing any taping or retaining of tapes.
Councilman Toth said the sentence says "no video recordings will be taken and there will be no delayed tape presentations made by the city."
Mayor McLallen said Council Members want it made clear that the city was not making any recordings.
Councilman Crawford said since this was Council policy isn't this who we are talking about.
Mr. Fried said Council policy addresses the public too. He said he would get clarification on it otherwise we are in violation of the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Fried said no video recording shall be taken by the City and there will be no delayed tape presentations by the city.
Mayor McLallen asked if that covered what everyone was concerned with.
Councilwoman Mason asked why the Council Members didn't want the city to have videos of the Council meetings available to the general public.
Councilman Pope said regarding Mr. Fried's advice that under the Open Meetings Act if we retained a copy of the tape then anyone could request under the Freedom of Information Act a copy of that tape. He said this would require the Council to copy the tape, buy the equipment required to copy it, staff time tied up and then the cost of having to do that and also saving the tapes.
Geraldine Stipp said after many years of saving tapes you have to have a place to store them and catalogue them.
Councilwoman Mason said she wasn't thinking of keeping ten years of tapes or that we had to make tapes. She said under the Freedom of Information Act you could allow a citizen to come and view that tape right here.
Councilman Toth said we do keep tapes. He said we make tapes, we keep them for awhile and then we reuse them. He said we make audio tapes and they are used for several weeks until the minutes are approved and then they are recycled. He said the same thing could be done with video tapes. He said if we are doing it with audio you can do the same thing with video. He said we have a sham going here and that he has provided video tapes to the City, the attorneys and to people who have requested tapes. He said he made copies and he treated everybody fairly and all he asked for was a blank tape to make the copy. Councilman Toth said if the city, legal department, the public and other departments are using his video tapes and they are of the same meeting, legally why are we not making these available.
Councilwoman Mason said she knew this happened and she was wondering why we didn't have a video tape for the meeting and write it in the rules how long that tape would be retained.
Mayor McLallen said Council had never accepted or enacted a policy and the funding to do that. She said this may be an opportunity for Council to take that step but as Councilman Pope pointed out that step will entail staff time, temporary storage time and duplication time.
Councilwoman Mason said it would cost $5.00 a tape and why can't it be done here while Metro Vision was at the meeting.
Mayor McLallen said if the Council would like to and if there are no legal ramifications it could be looked into but she still wasn't clear on the legality of the issue.
Mr. Fried said video tape is a record and it is open to the public and they have a right to view and copy it.
Mayor McLallen asked if there were any time constraints on how long a video needed to be kept.
Mr. Fried said that all records have a history they have to be kept. He could not remember what that time constraint was.
Councilwoman Mason asked how long the audio was kept.
Mrs. Stipp said Council adopted a policy of keeping the audio tapes until the minutes were approved.
Mr. Fried said there was a specific purpose and audio tapes are no more than her notes. He said her notes are not kept forever and these are just a backup for her notes. Once the minutes are approved the tape is then recycled and her notes are destroyed because then the official record is the minutes. He said the tape would be different because the tape was not used to make the notes.
Mayor McLallen said the attorney was distinguishing that the audio tapes have a different function than the video tapes. She said the video tapes are going to have a longer life if they become a public record but we haven't found out how long that life is.
Councilwoman Mason said she thought it was Council policy how long that life was.
Mr. Fried said that there was a statute on it as there was on all public records.
Councilwoman Mason asked why Council could not set policy on the tapes like on the audio tapes.
Mr. Fried said there is a statute on it and the statute takes precedence over the Council's direction on what can be done on all records.
Councilwoman Mason asked how do we manage to get rid of Mrs. Stipp's audio tapes so quickly if there is a statute that covers that.
Mr. Fried said because they are only a tool for the purpose of preparing the official minutes of the meeting, just like the notes she is taking now. He said if you make a video tape that was a totally different animal.
Councilwoman Mason said if there was something legal going on Mr. Fried borrowed tapes from Councilman Toth for the city part of the case and the other people didn't have any place to borrow tapes what kind of a problem was that.
Mr. Fried said if he borrowed a tape from Councilman Toth and attempted to introduce it in court he would have to have some basis of introducing it into court. He would have to bring Councilman Toth into court to say "yes I copied them, this is a record and this is my recollection of what was done that day and it is a true representation". He said it had nothing to do whether it was Councilman Toth's tape or your tape but if it was an official record of the city then it must be maintained.
Councilwoman Mason said when they do this live that is an opportunity to make a tape at that time by Metro Vision.
Councilman Toth said there are ways that it can be done. He said this meeting was being recorded at home on his VCR and it can be recorded at Metro Vision.
Mayor McLallen said what we have are two things and one was the fact that physically the tapes are able to be generated whether by citizens or whoever. She said if Council adopts a policy of video taping in some form, it becomes a public record and under state statute must be maintained in a certain manner. She said that entailed a funding and storage mechanism in this building to handle that. She said it was not just that we can't get an exact time frame it is probably a number of years. She said Council is well aware of the number of meetings held and the additional meetings. She asked if they were prepared to address creating space, time and funding and probably a staff person to oversee this.
Councilwoman Mason said all it would be was the taping because you don't have to have funding for staffing. She said at the Board of Realtors if someone wants to see or hear anything they have to go down there with their attorney, and they are not allowed to borrow anything from the Board. She said that is their policy so it doesn't cost anything to have those tapes on record because they can't leave the building.
Mr. Fried said the Freedom of Information Act provides that they have a right to copy any document or any record so there must be a facility for copying and there could be a reasonable charge for that.
Mayor McLallen said we can either state that there are no videos by the city, there will be no delayed tape presentations by the city and no keeping of tapes by the city. She said then if at another time the Council wants to address the keeping and maintaining of videos in compliance with the Open Meetings Act that's another sub issue, or it can be addressed now.
Councilman Schmid said any progress reports, traffic conditions reports, and special situations, etc. Mr. Fried said had to be maintained. He disagreed with that and felt that these were supplemental visual aids to a presentation that Council based a decision on but there are written minutes about the decisions. He said if that was true then every place card that they put up before us would have to be maintained, etc.
Mr. Fried said if it was an official hearing those are marked and kept by the Clerk. He said for instance, a liquor license problem comes up and there is a violation of a Liquor License Act and the city charges the owner with violation of that Act. He said then there must be a hearing held and at that hearing evidence is taken. He said then there is a record kept of what that evidence was and that then can be used in the Circuit Court on appeal. He said if Council grants a variance and there is opposition to it there might be a hearing on that and only in those instances would you maintain them. He said for instance, when a PUD is granted there are boards on that and the boards are kept. He said when Council makes a determination that they want architectural compatibility then the boards are kept so that later we can determine if there is compatibility. Mr. Fried said if someone comes in and wants Council to consider a tape in any hearing then we should keep that tape just as a petition is kept.
Councilman Crawford said to clarify that, the number 1 item on the agenda tonight is a request for soil and mining and filling permits. He said it is just a matter for Council action, it is not a public hearing and if they showed a tape of the area that Council needed to consider are you saying that does not have to be part of the record because it is not a hearing.
Mr. Fried said it did not have to be part of the record. He said it depended on whether it was an official hearing. He said if Council granted a permit that had video tape then he would suggest that it be kept because Council would have to know the basis on which they granted the permits.
Mayor McLallen said in the Cablecasting Policy in the presentation by Councilman Toth there are four areas and in the approved policy there are about six. She said the differences are in the approved policy we address meeting promptly at an appointed time which the current rules are addressing elsewhere. She said the second was concluding by midnight which these rules address elsewhere. She said number 7 said, which is the approved policy, "meetings will be cablecast live with no tapes". She said the issue now is the keeping of tapes and whether to enlarge the current policy to take in what Councilman Toth was suggesting or to stay with the policy as it stands.
Councilman Toth said we have had projects that have come before us with for example an artist drawing of the concept, and you would want to maintain that as part of the record to make sure that the project was built that way. He said if they submit drawings, sketches, photographs, etc. all of those should become part of the record if they are important to the decision that Council made. He said in certain cases Council may want to maintain the audio tapes and that is a decision that should be taken from the staff to decide whether or not the attorney said it would be a good idea to retain it. He said Vistas of Novi was coming up and Council might want to maintain any video they offer, drawings, audio and all of that can be made part of the record.
Councilman Crawford said he found it difficult to look at this document. He said every one of these under cable policy is shaded which means that is Councilman Toth's policy and not our adopted policy or the policy that was recommended by the committee. He said these are Councilman Toth's suggestions and he didn't remember what the committee suggested or what the presently adopted policy was. He said if we go to what Councilman Toth just said do we build another city hall to store all of this and who determines what is saved and what isn't. He said this was going to be unbelievably unmanageable if it was implemented. He said either you have to keep every single thing that comes before us or do what we presently do and keep none of it.
Mayor McLallen asked if there was a consensus one way or the other on the recording aspect of the cable policy. She said the current cable policy read "meetings will be cablecast live and no tapes of the meeting will be retained by the city." She said the proposal had been "all meetings will be telecast live and no video recordings will be taken and there will be no delayed tape presentations made by the city. Video tapes used during any meeting, i.e., visual progress reports, traffic condition reports, special situations, etc., shall be kept and stored with the official meeting records." She asked if the Council wished to do anything different than the current accepted policy.
Councilman Schmid said he liked the old one.
Councilman Mitzel said the audio tapes are used as notes and not records and if we kept video tapes they would be records. He asked Mrs. Stipp if the video tapes could be used to transcribe the minutes. Mrs. Stipp said no. He said he had no problem with not keeping the video tape copy and using the audio for the minutes and recycling the audio tapes after the minutes had been approved.
Mayor McLallen said it appeared that the majority of Council continued to be in support of the previous policy.
Mrs. Stipp stated that she could provide the first draft that Councilman Toth presented with the shading.
Councilman Pope said it would have been easier if Councilman Toth would have given Council, or he could still pull out and put them in amendment forms to the committee recommendation. He said what Councilman Toth had done visually was great but he has changed language to where we couldn't see it.
Councilman Toth said he would play with it. He said that he had both versions in his computer. He said Council had to understand that he gave them this a number of weeks ago and asked Council to read it because it was his idea and he reorganized it for readability. He said a lot of things that are in this document are what Council is apparently doing right now, so don't get the idea that all you have is a set of minutes on each one of these projects. He said Mrs. Stipp has retained drawings, pictures, boards and so forth. He said alot of these things that Mrs. Stipp has made part of the record we have learned the hard way that it better be saved because there is no way to know what's going to happen later on. He said don't get the idea that the old way we're not saving this material because we are currently saving these things now.
Mayor McLallen said Mrs. Stipp will try and get Councilman Toth's first version and Council will try and work from the committee's rules. She urged all Council Members to read it and have their concerns ready for the next meeting scheduled for March 6th at 6:00 PM.
There being no further business to come before Council the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 PM.