With a new mayor and five new council members, the dynamics of the Grosse Pointe Shores meeting were different than those in the recent past. An air of excitement radiated the standing room only crowd—many of whom attended for the swearing in ceremony.
Many stuck around however, and gave praise to the new council. They also shared suggestions about changes they as residents would like to see, noting their vote for sweeping change.
Among the first changes, now Mayor Pro Tem Dan Schulte moved to bring back the city clerk position the municipality operated with for nearly 100 years and nominated resident Bruce Nichols for appointment. The motion was supported and received unanimous support.
Nichols, who is an attorney practicing in the area of real estate, estate planning and corporate law with an office in Grosse Pointe Farms, agreed to accept the interim appointment that requires he be the record keeper of the council up to the January council meeting.
The separation of city clerk duties from the city manager duties is one of the amendments Schulte had planned to pursue on the City Charter earlier this year when he submitted a petition to put several amendments on the November ballot. The petition was rejected and did not make it on the ballot.
Previously the city clerk position was an elected position but that was changed when the City Charter was established. Under the current city charter, the clerk is appointed at the will of the council. The previous council had appointed City Manager Brian Vick to add the city clerk duties to his workload.
Nichols told the council he would be happy to perform the duties of the clerk for the city, explaining he's been involved in various other governmental groups in the past. He served on the Grosse Pointe Woods Board of Review for years, which he said he enjoyed.
In addition to city clerk changes, new Mayor Ted Kedzierski announced his intentions to eliminate the Committee of the Whole and return it to its previously established three-member finance committee. Kedzierski said he wished to return the format of the council meetings to the way in which they were performed when he first started with council.
The finance committee morphed into the Committee of the Whole, which is an informal work session meeting during which the council members often do much of the discussion on topics but cannot take formal action.
Council also discussed reviewing the committees, appointments to the committees and council meeting dates for all of 2012.
Additionally, Kedzierski eliminated the three-minute speaking rule for the public comment portion of the meeting and opened the floor for comments from the public during the discussion of agenda items. Initially he said he was doing it for Monday's meeting but later said the format is changed for meetings going forward.
The three-minute rule has often led to frustration and antagonistic interaction between former Mayor James Cooper and those wishing to finish their comments during the public comment portion of meetings. The enforcement led a first time attendee to abruptly leave last month's meeting after she shared her disgust with the way in which residents were being spoken to and how they were being treated. Her exit was not the first.
In addition to their own suggestions, residents also asked for some changes. Among them:
- Return of 911 dispatch to the Shores municipal building, which has already been transitioned over to the Grosse Pointe Farms dispatch center in a consolidation agreement.
- Establishment of a committee tasked with drafting a multi-year budget.
- Re-instating the Blue Ribbon Committee with the goal of jump-starting some of the recommendations that resulted from the study.
- Avoid spending taxpayer dollars to fight Freedom of Information Act requests when documents are matter of public record and simply release them rather than trying to delay or fight the requests.