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City minutes still unprepared

May 19, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Minutes for all the meetings of Hagerstown's current mayor and City Council were not completed before the former city clerk resigned, but City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Friday those minutes will be done.

Former City Clerk Gann Breichner resigned at the end of April. In March, when she announced her resignation, Breichner said she would have minutes for all meetings of the current mayor and council completed before she left.

Since the mayor and council took office in June 1997, there are at least 78 meetings without approved minutes. They typically meet four times a month.

Zimmerman said Breichner wasn't able to get all the minutes done because she was ill.

"We're working on them and will have all of them done," he said.

When asked when the minutes would be completed and approved by the council, Zimmerman said that would be up to the mayor and council.

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Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Friday he expects the minutes of every meeting since he took office will be done. Bruchey didn't know when he wants them completed by, adding the minutes should be done "as soon as we can."

"But I'm not going to pay someone to do it. And I'm not going to take somebody away from doing something else to do them," the mayor said.

Breichner did not return a telephone message left at her home Friday.

In February, Breichner and Zimmerman said there were no plans to complete minutes from meetings of prior mayor and council administrations that also lacked minutes. For the 10 years prior to the current mayor and council taking office, there are at least 193 mayor and council meetings without approved minutes.

Zimmerman said the city attorneys advised they complete only the minutes from meetings of the current council.

Minutes are not a transcript of a meeting, but typically summarize all the comments made and issues discussed during a meeting. They are an official record of what was said or done by a government body during a meeting, and must be approved by a council vote.

Minutes have been required since the Maryland Open Meetings Act was adopted in 1976.

In November, the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board ruled the mayor and council violated the Open Meetings Act for not having minutes prepared in a timely manner. The ruling was in response to a complaint filed by The Herald-Mail Co.

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