During the course of our investigation, the board passed an amendment to its Meeting Procedures Bylaw. This amendment granted new and unprecedented powers to the board chair, allowing him to close doors to the public by decree. Not only did this amendment fail to address our fairness concerns, it raised new ones.
The Union Bay Improvement District Chair has again taken a hatchet to its own bylaws, just like the board did from Jan. 2011 through Apr. 2011, when they locked out the electorate. By the time the Ombudsperson was involved, the trustees (David Godfrey and Denis Royer) were turfed in April 2011, and then trustee Alan de Jerkey resigned a couple of months later so the problem was solved by the board of Carol Molstad, Anne Alcock, Bruce Livesey, Cleve Goldswain.
This summary is from 2014 after the Ombudsperson’s Office received complaints in 2011 from numerous landowners. As you can see from the report, the public cannot be prevented from attending public meetings. Only ‘in camera’ meetings are out of the public eye and those meetings cover 3 specific subjects – you can’t just go ‘in camera’ for anything else.
The Chair announced at the Mar. 22, 2018 meeting that a matter brought up by Trustee Kaljur would be discussed at the Executive Meeting. There is no such thing – it’s another attempt to prevent the public from witnessing the actions and decisions made by those you elected.
Show up Monday April 9 at 7 pm to show this board they ARE accountable to all landowners and demand to be admitted.
Letting the public in
|Authority||Union Bay Improvement District|
|Details||When the Union Bay Improvement District declared all regular meetings closed to the public until further notice, Greta had concerns. Believing that the municipal authority did not reach its decision properly, she contacted us.
We began our investigation by reviewing the district’s Meeting Procedures Bylaw, which stated that all board meetings would be open to the public, except in cases where the board passed a resolution to go in camera and close the meeting. In general, meetings of this nature should be held in public unless doing so would be harmful to the public interest or someone’s personal privacy. In this case, the board chair had explained publicly that the reason for closure was a “mob atmosphere” and “heckling from 50 or 60 attendees.”
When we reviewed the meeting minutes we could not find a formal motion to close the meeting to the public, so we asked the district to provide us with all of its relevant decision-making records.
Initially the district said that a popular reference guide, Roberts Rules of Order, mentioned in the district’s Meeting Procedures Bylaw, gave the chair authority to take meetings behind closed doors. In addition, it responded that in its view, “resolutions” to close meetings could proceed entirely via email exchanges which were themselves not accessible to the public.
Using our powers under the Ombudsperson Act, we obtained records including an audio recording of the alleged “mob atmosphere.” The recording confirmed that interjections from the public occurred over a three-minute period, but they stopped when order was requested. The board conducted all its business and completed its scheduled agenda within the hour.
During the course of our investigation, the board passed an amendment to its Meeting Procedures Bylaw. This amendment granted new and unprecedented powers to the board chair, allowing him to close doors to the public by decree. Not only did this amendment fail to address our fairness concerns, it raised new ones. We proposed that the district reconsider its amended bylaw, conduct all future regular board meetings in public and publish minutesfrom the closed-door board meetings held that year.
At this point in our investigation, an election took place. The district, now with a new chair and board makeup, agreed to ensure all regular board meetings were open to the public and to make public the minutes of the previously closed meetings. The district also agreed to review the Meeting Procedures Bylaw as part of a broader bylaw review held by a newly established committee that invited participation from community residents.
In conjunction with the new meeting bylaw, the district consulted with us and then approved a policy to establish written criteria for appropriately closing meetings to the public. After monitoring subsequent board meetings, we confirmed that the district understood the new bylaw and policy, held board meetings that were open to the public and documented its actions in minutes published on the district website.