Making Democracy Work

MIDLAND CITY GOVERNMENT

Adopted 1974, Amended 1984, 1998, 2006

The League of Women Voters of the Midland Area endorses the council-manager form of government for the City of Midland and supports election by wards. There should be ample opportunity for citizen participation in city government and the public should be adequately informed of such opportunities. All meetings of the City Council should be open to the public, in accordance with the State of Michigan Open Meetings Act of 1976.

Council-Manager Form of Government

The administrative power of Midland City government should be in the hands of an appointed administrator. The council-manager form of government is best for the City of Midland. The current petition procedure for candidacy is satisfactory and no change should be made in the required qualification of Council members. Council members should be elected by wards. The mayor should have no extraordinary powers beyond those prescribed by the Midland City Charter*. The city council should be the policy making body of the city. The current* procedures for charter amendment and revision are adequate, as is the correct procedure for recall of elected officials. City council members should be adequately compensated.

  • Midland City Charter - reprinted 1967

City Council - Citizen Participation

To insure full public knowledge of City council actions, all City council meetings, both regular and special, should be publicized as widely as possible including, but not limited to, the following outlets: City calendar; newspapers; postings in city Hall, Library, County Building (if permitted); MCTV; City web site. The City newsletter should contain an updated calendar. Notices of meetings of the City Council should be published in the newspaper in consistent form and location.

Agendas and background information should be made available to the public as soon as possible, no later than the Saturday preceding a Monday meeting. Full packets should be available at City Hall or the Library and also readily available at the time of the meeting. We recommend an agenda format in which brief explanatory material is provided for the items listed.

We believe the Council is responsible for communicating to the public the background and estimated consequences of policy decisions. Open council meetings alone are not sufficient for this purpose. We recommend the use of the city newsletter, the media, MCTV and any other means possible to reach the widest possible public.

Citizens should be encouraged to make their views known by citizen comment during Council meetings, public hearings, meetings of advisory boards and commissions, communications through City Manager or department heads, personal contact (with Council members), focus groups, neighborhood groups and any other means available. We approve of the current practice of providing a time for open comment at City Council meetings, as well as comments directed to specific agenda items. To make the procedure more welcoming, we recommend that a pamphlet be available to explain Council procedure and the role of citizens. In addition to legal notification requirements, public hearings, both for the Council and for advisory boards and commissions, should be broadly publicized. Pertinent information should be included in the hearing notice. Debate format should be defined (time limits for example) in advance, preferably in the original announcement.

All meetings of the Council should be recorded by minutes or notes, which should be made available to the public promptly in the newspaper and/or at City Hall, at the Library and on the web site.

Advisory Boards and Commissions

The LWV believes that advisory boards and commissions perform an essential role in providing avenues for citizen input and participation and that all such boards and commissions should ultimately be responsible to the City Council. Therefore a direct line of communication with the Council is necessary for all such boards. Reports on key issues should be made directly to City Council. If a member of the administration is presenting the report, at least one member of the board or commission should attend the meeting. Routine reports or minutes should be included in the Council packets. Joint meetings may not be necessary.

Notices of opportunities to serve on boards and commissions should be widely publicized. Descriptions of the responsibilities and terms of appointment should be included in the announcement. Application forms should be available at City Hall, the Library, from Council members, from department heads and on the web site. Council members, from department heads and on the web site. Recommendations for appointment may be made by the administration, but the ultimate selection for all boards should be the responsibility of the City Council. In the interest of the broadest citizen input, appointment of an individual to more than one board at a time should be discouraged.

It is the responsibility of advisory boards and commissions to gather information, to hold hearings as needed and to make recommendations to City Council. Although the administration may provide much of the information, we encourage the use of alternate sources, especially citizen input. The experience of other communities should also be considered.

Notices of advisory board and commission meetings should be widely publicized (via our recommendations for City council notices). Minutes should be written and published as soon as possible after the meeting and made available to the public at City Hall and the Library. They should be included in the agenda packets for Council members as soon as they are written.

MCTV

Live broadcasts over MCTV should be made of City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, budget hearings, and other meetings as requested by the body concerned or in response to public demand. Other meetings of advisory boards and commissions should be taped for later cable casting. Newer technologies such as video streaming should be employed when appropriate. The City should continue to provide informative cablecasts such as budget explanations and department overviews.