The President of the Commission wants the return of virtual meetings for local government | News

Virtual meetings are an essential part of working life during a pandemic, but not for local governments where state laws require their meetings to be in person.

Leaders in one city in Michigan fear it will stop them from doing their jobs.

“There are a lot of day-to-day city functions that are approved at every city commission meeting. So if these things don’t happen, the city can shut down,” the president said. the Bay City Commission, Christopher Girard.

Girard calls on the state legislature to allow local governments to have virtual meetings again.

“I had the opportunity to talk to one of them last week and they told me they were coming to work sick, so we should go to work sick too,” Girard said.

When the legislature ended the pandemic executive power of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, it also ended the exemption to the Open Meetings Act that allowed virtual meetings.

If the city council has too many sick members, it cannot hold important meetings. With nine members in total, five must be sick to cancel or postpone a meeting. Girard wants heads of state to act.

“They have the power to enact this. And to sit on your hands for two to three months and say, ‘it’s not our prerogative to do anything’ is unacceptable and I think the citizens, residents should demand better, ”Girard said.

Virtual meetings also helped residents.

“We had a lot of people, in fact more than in person, who came to the meetings, were able to attend and express their opinions on the issues the city faces every day,” Girard said.

Without these meetings, the bills would not be paid, and neither would the city workers. Girard said all nine members of the commission agreed with him, but time is running out. The committee will be reaching out to more heads of state in the coming days and weeks to push for the possibility of returning to virtual meetings for now.

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