Village Council adopts resolution asking meeting comments civil to
The Northport Village Council had its first reading on new rules for procedure policy to cover a wide range of items including public comments.
It also adopted a resolution encouraging more congenial dialogue among the public and the council at meetings.
The statement of philosophy resolution was unanimously approved after much debate over whether it was even necessary.
“Congressman Jim Leach was quoted the other day as saying that politics should be spirited, but not mean spirited,” trustee Phil Mikesell said after reading the proposed resolution. “I just want the council to go on record in that spirit.”
Mikesell added “We want to encourage people to participate, there’s no question about that. We’re not trying to cut off comments, but the kind of intemperate language and accusatorial and personal attacks have actually discouraged effective communication.”
Mikesell said he believes people don’t want to be involved because it seems like a “rough and tumble operation,” up here.
“Rough and tumble?” Village Council president Fred Steffens asked.
“It might even be worse,” Mikesell said. “We just want to say (in this statement) that we don’t approve of it and call upon everybody to do their best to make this civil.
“I don’t think that’s setting the bar too high.”
Steffens and trustee Donna Groomes said the civility issue was discussed in the new rules of procedures.
“It was pretty well addressed ... that bantering back and forth isn’t going to be allowed and that we are going to limit the conversations to five minutes or less unless there is some special presentation that someone wants to make and that would have to be approved prior to the meeting,” Steffens said.
“I think those are operational ... those are procedures and things we do,” Mikesell said. “This is addressing the kind of character of discourse and the spirit of participation.
“I agree they are overlapping, but this is trying to make a second point ... that we want it stopped.”
Mikesell said the resolution was straight forward, but cautioned the village should not necessarily be following the path of national politics.
“They are not giving us a particularly good model,” he said. “But I think we can do better than that in the lcoal community.”
Trustee Steve Wetherbee pointed out that many organizations have statements of philosophy that “have no teeth,” but they are nevertheless important.
“In a sense they lay out on the table how they feel about issues that are somewhat intangible,” he said. “I think Phil’s position and comments have been right on the mark.”
In other items during the 90-minute meeting, the council:
• Accepted a $1,500 check from the Leelanau Community Foundation to underwrite a grant for the shopper’s dock as part of Phase 2 of the marina renovation.
• Unanimously approved allocating $3,200 from the marina fund to pay the Schiffer Group of Traverse City to apply for the shopper’s dock grant through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
• Received a copy of a waterfowl beachfront feeding ordinance by a village resident, who complained last month that a neighbor was feeding waterfowl and make a mess of the beachfront. Steffens said he would meet with the resident to discuss her concerns.
• Unanimously adopted a resolution to support including M-201 as part of the Scenic Heritage Route.