Above: Library Director Kristin Shelley presenting to City Council and the Board of Education last night.
The first half of this week’s City Council meeting was dedicated to a joint meeting with the East Lansing Public Schools Board of Education and was held at the Hannah Community Center. The meeting consisted largely of presentations and involved no apparent points of disagreement among or between the two governing bodies. Topics included the future of the Red Cedar School, enrollment levels, and the proposed City Charter amendment on public land sales.
Image: The Northern Tier Trail, courtesy City of East Lansing
An emerging point of tension with regard to the proposed Charter Amendment on public land sales set for the May 5 election has been whether parks should be able to be sold with a simple majority approval (50% + 1 vote) of voters instead of the 3/5 (60%) approval currently stated as required in the City Charter. Some have been saying that while they are comfortable changing the charter to require only a 50% voter approval on non-park land, they do not agree with reducing the approval level for park lands.
On May 5, East Lansing voters will decide whether to vote to change the City Charter’s rule on the sale of public lands. As ELi has reported, the most important effect of this would be to lower the voter approval threshold for the sale of public lands. Public lands, including parks, now require a 60% voter approval over a specified minimum dollar value.
Image: Neighborhoods 1st's Jim Anderson and Don Power.
Neighborhoods 1st, a political action committee (PAC), was very controversial in the November 2014 elections for its involvement in the land sale ballot question and the school board elections. An ELi reader recently asked ELi to find out whether Neighborhoods 1st is going to be involved in the May 2015 election and what we can know about them.
Bailey resident and MSU Psychology professor Erik Altmann has announced he is running for East Lansing City Council. The election will be November 3 and three seats will be up for grabs: those currently held by Mayor Nathan Triplett, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris, and Councilmember Kathy Boyle. Councilmembers serve for four-year terms.
The City has now made available four draft alternatives for an amendment to the City Charter to change how decisions are made about the sale of City-owned lands. Some Council members expressed an interest in changing this provision in East Lansing’s Charter to be more in line with Lansing’s, but the decision parameters being suggested for East Lansing are different from Lansing’s in an important respect.
As we approach the May 5th election in East Lansing, ELi hopes you will speak up and tell us your positions on the issues that will affect all of us. We will be looking for residents of East Lansing to help educate fellow citizens about their perspectives, and so we hope you will consider contributing in this way.
Residents of East Lansing with landline telephones are sending in reports to ELi of a mysterious political phone poll. A recorded voice has been asking callers a series of questions about whether the call recipients would vote for various versions of a City Charter amendment on the sale of public lands. (See background on the political issue here.)
A surprise discussion broke out tonight at City Council during dialogue about the subject of the last agenda item: the ballot proposal to change the City Charter to limit East Lansing’s ability to restrict marijuana possession. The published agenda had named only discussion of when the vote on the proposal would occur. With no prior notice to the public, Council and the City Attorney suddenly began discussing letters received from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office and Governor Rick Snyder regarding the proposal.
In his formal response to the Michigan Department of State regarding a complaint made against him under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, City Manager George Lahanas has maintained he did not violate the Act by using a taxpayer-funded publication to disseminate his opinion on a ballot proposal. At issue is Lahanas’s use of the City’s September Dialog newsletter to tell residents he hoped they would vote “yes” on a development-related ballot proposal.
Image: Nathan Triplett and Susan Woods at City Council
At City Council’s work session last night, Council entered into a lengthy debate about how, if at all, it should work to make sure East Lansing citizens know from whom Councilmembers have taken campaign contributions. The issue came up in response to a proposed amendment to the Code of Ethics from Councilmember Ruth Beier.