MI Freedom of Information Act (Public Act No. 442 of 1976 as amended)

Media Services: In November 2017 Bear Lake News submitted a 6 month FOIA subscription – ruled valid by the Village Attorney with mandatory compliance. [See Article Link here]

A person has the right to subscribe to future issuances of public records which are created, issued or disseminated on a regular basis. A subscription is valid for up to six months, at the request of the subscriber, and is renewable.

The request – that all Village of Bear Lake property owners should have online access to all documents presented and discussed at any and all Village meetings – would seem routine. As a computer is used to create them, providing the full meeting packet to us or as a posted packet on the Village’s own web site would also seem a simple routine public service?

Why would any unit of government refuse to comply?
Why would any municipality ignore requests?
Or make any of the @160 adults who live here file a lengthy FOIA application for documents their tax dollars have already paid for the creation of?
And then attempt to charge a fee for providing?
This is why, at the Village’s request, one request is filed for us to act on behalf of all property owners.

Bear Lake News: Tue, Jun 19, 10:34 AM
To: Clerk, cc’d to Village Attorney

Good morning,
under MI Freedom of Information Act (Public Act No442 of 1976 as amended), Bear Lake News hereby renews it’s 6 month Subscription request, as a community news media service, for the following items:

1. All Notices of any meetings, new or rescheduled, within the time frame as prescribed by law.
2. All Agendas for said meetings within 24 hours of proposed meeting dates
3. All documents presented, discussed and available for any member of the public physically present to view and take with them: to include but not limited to the following:

Bills to be paid
Financial reports, profit and loss and treasurer accounts
Any and all documents presented for review and/or discussion

4. All draft unapproved, and Approved/Corrected Minutes, to be sent within the time frame as prescribed under Michigan Open Meetings Act 267 of 1976 as amended.

Thank you for your cooperation in assisting Village property owners to be fully engaged in their government. This request covers the period June 1 – November 30, 2018
Bear Lake News.
Following continued absence of the requested documents:
Bear Lake News: Fri, Sep 14, 1:59 PM
To: Clerk, cc’d to Village Attorney
Good afternoon,
under MI Freedom of Information Act (Public Act No442 of 1976 as amended), Bear Lake News hereby submits a 3 month Subscription request, as a community news media service, for the following items:
1. All Notices of any meetings, new or rescheduled, within the time frame as prescribed by law.
2. All Agendas for said meetings within 24 hours prior to meeting dates
3. Within 24 hours prior to meetings: All documents to be presented, discussed and available for any member of the public physically present to view and take with them: to include but not limited to the following:
  1. Bills to be paid. Financial reports, profit and loss (Budget To Date By Fund By Line Item) and treasurer accounts
  2. Any and all documents presented for review and/or discussion by Council, Committee or Commission.

3. All draft unapproved, and Approved/Corrected Minutes, to be sent within the time frame as prescribed under Michigan Open Meetings Act 267 of 1976 as amended. 

Also – under the MI Open Meetings Act – an assurance that those unable to be in physical attendance will be afforded the reasonable accommodation to attend via speakerphone for the duration of each meeting as previously noted.
 
Thank you for your cooperation in assisting Village property owners to be fully engaged in their government. This request covers the period September 1 – November 30, 2018
 
Editor. Bear Lake News.

The provisions of the Michigan Open Meetings Act – as explained by now Republican Candidate for Governor Bill Schuette – contains the following:

“Moreover, the use of electronic communications for discussions or deliberations, which are not, at a minimum, able to be heard by the public in attendance at an open meeting are contrary to the OMA’s core purpose – the promotion of openness in government.

Using e-mail to distribute handouts, agenda items, statistical information, or other such material during an open meeting should be permissible under the OMA, particularly when copies of that information are also made available to the public before or during the meeting. “

Penalties for non compliance:

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (EXCERPT)
mcl-Act-442-of-1976
2018-PA-0105

Act 442 of 197615.240b
Failure to comply with act; civil fine.
Sec. 10b.

If the court determines, in an action commenced under this act, that a public body willfully and intentionally failed to comply with this act or otherwise acted in bad faith, the court shall order the public body to pay, in addition to any other award or sanction, a civil fine of not less than $2,500.00 or more than $7,500.00 for each occurrence. In determining the amount of the civil fine, the court shall consider the budget of the public body and whether the public body has previously been assessed penalties for violations of this act. The civil fine shall be deposited in the general fund of the state treasury.

History: Add. 2014, Act 563, Eff. July 1, 2015
Popular Name: Act 442
Popular Name: FOIA

© 2017 Legislative Council, State of Michigan

Unanswered requests:

  1. June, July, September and October Budget Reports which track spending. This is the last one received:

Additional sheets can be viewed here – https://bearlakemichigan49614.com/2018/09/09/who-we-are-part-ii-where-the-money-goes/

The Profit and Loss Report must be available to Council Members prior to approval to amend the Budget to identify where overspending has occurred and where money will be drawn from to cover those deficits.

  1. On September 4th:
    Attached you will find the Profit & Loss Budget vs. Actual that was updated for the August council meeting. 
There is no working draft for the Water Ordinance at this time.
The revised Water Ordinance [ Water Ordin September 2018 passed with corrections] was approved with corrections on September 19.
3. Fleis & Vanderbrink invoice – the August 2018 meeting audio clearly states that Council members had a document in front of them to refer to regarding payment for past due interest bills. Not received.
On October 16, 2018:

When can we receive the June, July and September Profit and Loss by Fund by Line Item reports please? These would have been part of the Board Packets as the Council approved Budget Amendments?
Also we have requested the statement identifying the services provided by Fleis VandenBrink that necessitated payment of $20,507.72 in interest fees approved in September?
We see Amendments listed on tomorrow’s Agenda – we would appreciate the October Profit and Loss by Fund by Line Item reports please? 
Thank you for your cooperation.
4. On October 17, 2018
TO: Clerk and Village President
Good morning,

a number of local residents have asked if the newly revised Two Lakes Sewer Map falls under our 6 month FOIA subscription.
As the October 3rd 2018 TLSA meeting was also posted as a Village Special Meeting we believe it does. In addition, the Recording Secretary for TLSA has stated quite forcefully that all requests for information should be referred back to the Village representatives. As a resident was able to see the actual new map, we are requesting a copy in PDF format be supplied – we presume Wade Trim provided the paper copy. 
In addition we are requesting the following information:
1. How many surveys were returned – these were included in the previous water bill mailing.
2. How many were in favor and how many opposed.
3. Under what State or Federal statute would Bear Lake School be exempted from REU assessment?
Water System.
1. Who is a member of the Water Rate Review Board?
2. How many residential REUs are included.
3. How many non Village residents are water customers.
4. Can you provide a list please of commercial users and their REU assessments – divided into Village and non Village customers.
Respectfully,
Bear Lake News.
No response.
A Special Assessment District for the Village was approved at the October Council Meeting. Residents have been advised they can only see a copy between the hours of 1-3 at the Village Hall Tuesday-Thursday. It is unclear at which public meeting this was created.
This list comprises just the most recent unanswered requests.
Bear Lake News does not have financial resources to hire legal council to file a legal complaint.