G. Rapids turns up tunes to drown out discussion PDF Print E-mail
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 10:42
GRAND RAPIDS - Council once considered sound proofing its meeting chambers to keep its executive sessions private, but members have now gone a less expensive and more melodic route - country music.
During a 25-minute, closed-door executive session on Monday, council members held private discussions, as allowed by law, to the tunes of today's country hits.
"It's an executive session and it needs to stay within our walls here," said council member Carolyn Erdody after the council meeting.
"It's a good precaution," agreed Mayor Marjory Obermyer.
Initially, the portable radio was located within council chambers. Minutes after the executive session began, the radio was placed in the hallway where those who attended Monday's council meeting were asked to stay while council met in executive session.
Soon after the radio was placed in the hallway, Lynn Sylvain, a local resident who attends council meetings, ran for village council and published a series of newsletters leading up to the election, turned off the radio.
At that point, the radio was returned to council chambers.
"It's bizarre behavior from what should be professionals and elected officials," Sylvain said after the meeting.
Executive sessions are permitted by law and allow government entities, like village council, to discuss personnel matters, contracts, pending litigation or property acquisition in private. When council members agree to go into executive session, all those in attendance at the meeting, with the exception of council members and those specific individuals asked to be part of the executive session, are asked to leave.
In the Grand Rapids town hall, there is a thin wooden door that separates council chambers where the private discussions happen and the hallway where meeting attendees are asked to wait. Even with the door is closed, voices can still be heard in the hallway.
Erdody called Monday's executive session on behalf of the finance committee to discuss contracts. Council members, Village Administrator Chad Hoffman and the fiscal officer were invited into the session.
Following the executive session, council members voted to amend Hoffman's contract.
Hoffman previously was a full-time village administrator, but went to part-time in January.
The contract amendment increased his number of hours from 24 to 25 and also placed him "on call" for the village. The reason for the change was for insurance purposes, Erdody said.

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