Fayette Council: Why shut the mayor out of discussions? 2013.01.23

Written by David Green.

Fayette council members have the opportunity to start off the new year with the resolve to stop shutting the mayor out of the closed sessions when councilors gather to discuss matters in private.

Yes, it’s legal. The person calling for the closed session can name who should be admitted. We’re not questioning that, but we’re asking if it makes sense.

The mayor is one of seven elected officials chosen by village representatives to govern the community. Why prevent one of those seven from participating in the process?

Suppose a decision by council members ends in a tie vote. It’s rare, but it’s happened in the past. It’s the mayor’s role to cast the deciding vote, but how can that be done if that person has even been privy to the discussion lead up to the vote?

We’re not sure why council makes the move to deliberately keep mayor Ruth Marlatt out of the discussions, but there’s something going on. It shouldn't depend on whether or not you agree or disagree with her opinions. She’s an elected official ready to participate in the process.

It’s possible that all six of Fayette's council members agree that the mayor should not participate in setting village policy. That's their prerogative. But if anyone thinks that might be a problem—that it creates a dysfunctional village government—there's an easy solution.

The next time a council member wants to move the discussion away from the public’s ear and says it’s only for the six council members, cast a "no" vote. Stand up for your belief, if that’s how you feel.

And on the other hand, if everyone thinks it’s just fine to conduct business that way, we won’t mention it again.

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