The state’s Public Access Bureau determined the St. Clair Township Board of Trustees violated the Open Meetings Act during the its Feb. 24 meeting, which resulted in more than 20 complaints from residents. The violation occurred when the board limited public comments to two minutes.
In a written response to one resident’s complaint, Assistant Attorney General Shari West said the board violated the requirements of the act “by restricting public comments without established and recorded rules governing public comment.”
“During a telephone conversation with an Assistant Attorney General on March 11, 2015, the Township Clerk (Brenda Reed) stated that the (St. Clair Township) Board did not have a public comment policy at the time of the meeting,” West wrote.
The Open Meetings Act states that “any person shall be permitted an opportunity to address a public body subject only to a public body’s established and recorded rules.”
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Reed responded to the initial request for review, writing that “all attendees who indicated a desire to speak were allowed to do so.” The complaint alleged the board prohibited the resident from speaking during the meeting.
The board has since adopted a policy for public comments.
Public Access Counselor Sarah Pratt determined this violation did not require issuance of a binding opinion.
The Attorney General’s office is still investigating complaints alleging an Open Meetings Act violation occurred when members of the public were unable to attend the Feb. 24 meeting, because the doors were locked prior to the start of the meeting.
Nineteen residents alleged they were not allowed to attend the meeting, and six residents alleged they witnessed members of the public who were not allowed to attend the meeting, according to complaints — in the form of requests for review — received by the Attorney General’s office between Feb. 27 and April 9.
Contact reporter Lexi Cortes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2514.