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March 23, 2020, City Commission Meeting will be conducted remotely & process for giving public comment

by Benjamin Marentette
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Issued by City Clerk Benjamin Marentette:

On March 18, 2020, as an important step to help stop the spread of COVID-19 cases, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an Executive Order allowing, and prescribing the method for, public boards in Michigan, such as the City Commission, to conduct their meetings remotely.   The Executive Order expires April 15, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.   This was the longest period of time the Governor is allowed to suspend a law; after 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2020, a law approved by the Michigan Legislature and signed by The Governor would have to be passed to continue these provisions in some fashion.

 

Specifically, the Governor’s Executive Order allows for members of a public body, such as the City Commission, to be able to fully-participate in the meeting remotely.  Meaning, members of the City Commission may be counted as present, make motions, vote on motions, deliberate, etc., as though they were physically present in one meeting room together.   The Executive Order requires that the public body provide a method for the public to listen to the meeting and to be able to give verbal comments to the board.

 

The City of Traverse City recognizes the importance of not bringing people together unnecessarily in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  The Governmental Center has been closed to walk-in traffic and the City of Traverse City is operating a “virtual city hall” as previously stated as is the City’s Department of Public Services on Woodmere Avenue.    Therefore, the Governmental Center will be closed during the City Commission meeting of March 23, 2020, and for City Commission meetings for the foreseeable future.  Members of the City Commission will not be present in the Governmental Center for official City Commission meetings.  For the foreseeable future, the City does not intend to convene other city board and committees unless their is critical action to be taken; meetings that do not need to be held will not be held.  

 

While not required, a proposed policy for the conduct of remote participation meetings will be considered for adoption at the March 23, 2020, meeting and is included in the updated (republished) City Commission packet online at http://www.traversecitymi.gov 

 

City Commission meetings will continue to be broadcast live on Cable Channel 191 and will be streamed live at:  https://www.tacm.tv/govtvnow.asp  There will be no video of members of the City Commission, key city staff or other participants in the meeting.  Rather, there will solely be audio.   For members of the City Commission and key city staff, their name (as well as a photo) will appear on screen when they are speaking.  

 

For individuals who may wish to give public comment, the method for providing public comment during these remote-participation meetings is to call: 312-626-6799 and enter the meeting ID (the meeting ID for the March 23, 2020, City Commission Special Meeting is 173-398-401 and the Participant ID is #).  Callers wishing to give public comment may call in before the meeting starts and wait in a “virtual waiting room.”  Going forward, the call-in number and participant ID to give public comment will remain the same; however, the meeting ID will change with each meeting).   These instructions will be included in every official published agenda of the City Commission.  Those calling in will be able to hear the audio of the City Commission meeting, yet their microphone will be muted.  (Please note, that for a brief period of time, when calling in, the callers full telephone number may be visible for those using the Zoom platform.   We will endeavor to manually, yet as quickly as possible, alter what is visible to just the last four digits of the caller’s telephone number.)  

 

When the Commission accepts public comment, in the order calls were received, the City Clerk will identify the caller by the last four digits of their telephone number and ask them if they would like to make a comment.   While not required, but so we do not have to go through an unnecessarily long list of callers, we ask, if possible, that those who do not wish to give public comment refrain from calling in and instead listen to the meeting online at: https://www.tacm.tv/govtvnow.asp  or on Cable Channel 191.

 

For remote participation Regular Meetings of the City Commission, City Clerk Benjamin Marentette will be recommending to the City Commission they accept public comment at the very beginning of the meeting, so that the Commission and listeners will have the benefit of public comment before actions are taken but to not accept public comment during agenda items while we are in remote-participation mode.

 

Finally, because the members of the City Commission and key staff participants will not be visible, Mayor Jim Carruthers will call the meetings to order and then the City Clerk will be facilitating the meeting and will call on individual members of the City Commission and staff participants to speak who “virtually raise their hand,” which will occur through the Zoom platform managed by the City Clerk and the Co-Host.

 

The City of Traverse City wants to express great appreciation to its transparency partner LIAA the operator of Cable Channel 191 and UpNorth Media who have provided substantial assistance as we have identified a practical way to conduct City Commission meetings remotely during this time.   

 

As previously stated by City Manager Marty Colburn, the City of Traverse City continues its strong commitment to providing essential services to the community.  We appreciate the understanding of our neighbors as we implement special measures to protect the health of the public, our City Commission and other boards and city staff.  

 

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