Never, in Marvin's history, has a Council let the public gather in one meeting location, while they secretly conducted controversial, public business, in another location, in secret! Weeks ago Village Staff knew the July 10 meeting would be well-attended.
It's important to begin with some essential legal information with regard to public meeting protocols, municipal law and the standards to which the Marvin Council usually abides and must abide.
What Happens When Village Hall Isn’t Large Enough for a Meeting?
When a crowd is expected at a meeting, and the meeting was scheduled in the small meeting room at Village Hall, the Village has always followed the process below, to change the meeting location...
1. Village Hall directs the public to the new meeting location, with signs / emails
2. A quorum of Council members meets at Village Hall only to 'open' the meeting
3. The Council ‘calls the meeting to order’ but doesn't conduct any business
4. They immediately recess the meeting to the new meeting location
5. They reconvene the meeting in the new location, in full public view
6. The Council deliberates on all agenda items -- publicly and openly
Was the Meeting Planned for Village Hall or Banks Church Sanctuary?
Weeks ago Village Staff knew the July 10 meeting would be well-attended. They emailed a meeting reminder to the Council, staff and board members. The email said the July 10 Council meeting would be moved to a Banks facility. Here is the bulk of the email sent on June 27, 2018: (See original here)
Dear Council…Your next regular scheduled meeting is
Tues, July 10, 2018 at 6:30 pm at the Village Hall.
In anticipation of high attendance, the meeting will be moved to
Banks Fellowship Hall. A notice will be posted on the door of
Village Hall notifying the public of the change in meeting location.
Marvin Village Staff Specified the July 10 Meeting Would Be Moved. Church officials told Marvin Staff that Fellowship Hall was filled with summer bible camp materials. With that, they gave Marvin Staff a key to Bank's Church to use for the July 10 Council meeting
If the Meeting Was Planned at a Bank's Facility, What Happened?
The Village expected lots of attendees and said they would move the meeting, so why did the Council abandon transparent protocol, hide from the public, and conduct controversial business in Village Hall?
Pollino's Marvin Majority Misleads Meeting Attendees
Never, in Marvin's history, has the Council let the public gather in one meeting location, while they secretly conducted controversial, open, public business, in another location, in secret!
Pollino's majority took advantage of the public's trust, and long-standing protocol, then shoved through controversial actions, beyond public view. The whole stunning affair may have been legal, but it was very unethical!
Certain meeting attendees reported that Village officials and associates were ushering people to Banks Church for the meeting. This means they actively ushered people away from where Council was deliberating.
How Did All Mayoral Supporters Know to Go to Village Hall?
How did all mayoral supporters attending the meeting know — without a doubt — to go to Village Hall, while everyone else was ushered to the Church?
While the majority of meeting attendees were misdirected to Banks Church, none of the mayor's friends fell prey to misdirection. Everyone in Village Hall, except for one person, were mayoral supporters & appointees. How did they know business would take place at Village Hall? Even if you want to believe there was "just a miscommunication" why didn't the Council send someone to the Sanctuary to inform residents -- as an act of good faith? All of this suggests Mayor Pollino's Council majority -- knowing what was planned -- specifically told their supporters to go to Village Hall to witness controversial deliberations. Meanwhile, ~90% of all other citizens were kept in the dark and no effort was made to reach out to the meeting crowd gathering next door.
Those Arriving at Village Hall Clearly Saw People Gathering at Banks...
Anybody, arriving at Village Hall that day, could see the following, from the road:
The Bank's Church parking lot overflowing with cars and attendees
A crowd gathering at Bank's Church and filing into the sanctuary
Members of the media in the lot, with cameras and equipment
An atypical number of people arriving on a weekday evening
(*Official = Council member, Staff, Advisory Board members, Village Attorney, etc.
Marvin Meeting Attendees Trusted their Council Would Be Transparent
Marvin residents at the meeting trusted their Council would do the right thing:
Follow the traditional protocol this Village has followed for years...
Refrain from conducting Village business while recessing the meeting at Village Hall
Move the public meeting, to the waiting public, before conducting business
Not one council or advisory board member upheld the principles of good government and insisted the Council move their meeting to the public forum, where meeting attendees were waiting...
Pollino's Council Hides in Village Hall & Vacates Mary's Office
It's important to note that Councilman Epps had important family travel and couldn't attend. We were glad he took much needed time with family.
Here's How The Sordid Affair Went Down - Hindsight is 20 / 20...
The agenda item, regarding Mary's appointment had been in the middle of the agenda After two agendas, the position of the item was moved to the very beginning. Here, you can see this difference, between the June 12 & 28 & July 10 agendas. This suggests the item was moved to the beginning, so Pollino's Council majority could act quickly in Village Hall, before the Public could provided comment or scrutiny.
According to Witnesses in Village Hall, This Is What Happened There
Just before 6:30pm, a staff member showed a message to Councilor Vandenberg. In response to the message, Vandenberg hastily told Pollino & Dispenziere to start the meeting. The Council opened the meeting, adopted the agenda and went to the first item.
Conducting Controversial Business While Hiding From the Public
While hiding from the public, the Council voted to do the following:
Re-accept Salimao's resignation Although they already accepted it on 05/31
Vacate Mary's public office on the Council (as Mary walked into the meeting room)
Despite the vote to vacate her office Mary took a seat at the council table.
You can review the verbatim meeting transcript here.
The Citizen's of Marvin Track Down the Secret Meeting
What Happened Next Was Truly Historical...
Residents, Alerted to the Council's Covert Meeting, March to Village Hall
From the Village Hall window, residents were seen crossing Village Hall's lawn. Someone had alerted them to meeting actions being taken in Village Hall. About 40-50 residents marched from the church through the Village Hall door. The Village Hall meeting room was rushed and pushed beyond capacity. A deputy told residents there was no more room in the building. Residents were heard exclaiming they could not be denied a public hearing!
Pollino's Council is Forced to Recess to Restore Transparency
The Mayor was forced to call for a recess and move the meeting to the Church. The crowd escorted the Village Council and staff to the Banks Church back at Bank's Church. Mary took her seat at the Council table, at the front of the sanctuary and Mike Shkut attempted to tell the crowd what occurred at Village Hall, but he was cut-off. The Mayor called for the Public Comment period to begin again and soon he was leading a charge to have Mary Shkut arrested by Union County deputies.
Genuine Support for Mary's Appointment to Council
The public comments at the meeting, and online, were inspiring and affirming and we can' thank people enough for standing up for Mary and good government!100% of the public comments regarding Mary's appointment were in her favor and came from all areas of the Village. Pollino's majority was not interested in what the public had to say -- in fact, they took their votes before letting the public make any comments. (See the 'Order of Business' on the July 10 agenda)
...Read Part Two