Ever since the Ludington City Council covertly held a first reading of its restrictive Medical Marijuana Ordinance (MMO) without any advance notice to the public, and then decided to vote for the adoption of the MMO at an afternoon council meeting in front of 135 third graders fourteen days later, I became interested in how local ordinances are made. Particularly since a year and a half ago I predicted a MMO passed by this Ludington City Council would be challenged if it tried to bite off too much.
Backdrop: Back on February 28, 2011 the City passed the Workplace Safety Policy (WSP) by a voice vote at the council meeting that day. There had been no previous mention of the WSP, no public hearing, so it was obviously thought by the Council and the City Manager who invoked it the next day on a leading citizen to have the authority to restrict a citizen from entering public places for any reason they wish to put forth. At first, no one outside of City Hall had any idea what the WSP was Workplace Safety Policy?
Then on March 4, 2011 City Manager John Shay declared that there was a new policy the City Council had passed and placed immediately on a citizen, and told the local paper about this new power he had to threaten and intimidate citizens Who's Threatening Who?
Finally, the actually text of this policy was revealed The WSP Revealed 3-31-2011. And then it was noted that the use of this WSP in this instance, violated several US Constitutional amendments (1, 4, 5, 14) and even the State Constitution violated 9-8-2011.
The actual process of the WSP's creation was finally discovered Creating a Monster pt 1 and after the person affected by the WSP was kept from his polling place in November, the City made a covert change of policy which was never adopted at any public meeting Revision? 3-18-2012
Making Sausage: Few people could argue that the committee process that the City Council utilizes is conducive to public input or openness. The Open Meetings Act does not apply to such meetings. Even though the committees are restricted from making any binding decisions, what passes from one committee will usually make it to the full council with three votes already behind it, and the backing of the ex-officio committee member John Shay. In the nine City Council meetings this year, there has been no real debate over anything that has come before the council from committee. This 'rubber stamp' mentality is likely to continue.
But what is an ordinance and how are ordinances made? This is a question I never looked at in detail, and is cogent as it has always been assumed that the WSP has the authority of a legally passed local law. But is it? Let's take a look at established Ludington law from the City Code and Charter.
Section 7.1 : In addition to other acts required by law or by specific provisions of this Charter to be done by ordinance, those acts of the City Council shall be by ordinance which:
(1) Adopt or amend an administrative code, or establish, alter or abolish any City department, office, or agency;
(2) Provide for a fine or other penalty, or establish a rule or regulation for violation of which a fine or other penalty is imposed;
The WSP at least amends an administrative code by giving the City Manager and Attorney more powers (1), and provides for a penalty plus establishes (vague) rules for violation of which a penalty is imposed (2). Therefore, the WSP needs to be established as an ordinance, by 7.1.
Section 7.2 : (This section tells about the making of ordinances and each sentence will be analyzed as to how it pertains to the WSP):
a) "The style of all ordinances passed by the City Council shall be "The City of Ludington Ordains…". No ordinance shall be revised, altered, or amended by reference to its title only, but the section or sections of the ordinance to be changed shall be re-enacted." [The WSP does not have such wording, and has been 'revised' by a City Attorney's legal opinion since its passage.]
b) "The effective date of any new or revised, altered, or amended ordinance shall be described therein and shall not be earlier than twenty (20) days after its adoption and publication, unless the Council shall, upon attaching a declaration of emergency affecting the public peace, health, or safety, fix an earlier date, in which case the ordinance shall become effective immediately upon publication." [The WSP went into effect immediately the next day it was passed, without any declared emergency.]
c) "No ordinance imposing a penalty shall take effect until at least ten (10) days after publication, and no measure making or amending a grant, renewal, or extension of a franchise or other special privilege shall ever be passed as an emergency measure." [The WSP imposed a penalty and was imposed the very next day, before anyone who wasn't at the 2-28-2011 meeting knew anything about it.]
d) "Ordinances may be enacted, amended or repealed by an affirmative roll call vote of a majority of the council members present at any authorized meeting." [no roll call vote was made for the WSP]
e) "No ordinance of a non-emergency nature shall be enacted at the meeting at which it is first introduced." [the WSP was non-emergency, yet passed on the same day it premiered.]
In conclusion, the Ludington City Charter invalidates the Workplace Safety Policy of any legal authority. Just like the State and Federal Constitution does. And yet a letter of trespass can be placed on any Ludington citizen, or anyone else for that matter, without any reason or due process, for any public place in Ludington, which could even include a street. All this was passed under the authority of a City Council that couldn't even pass it by following any level of the law.
The State's Home Rule Cities Act, which establishes rules a city must adopt in its incorporation, and includes MCL 117.3(h): "Adopting, continuing, amending, and repealing the city ordinances and for the publication of each ordinance before it becomes operative. Whether or not provided in its charter, instead of publishing a true copy of an ordinance before it becomes operative, the city may publish a summary of the ordinance." and...
The State's Fourth Class Cities Act MCL 89.1 says: "The style of each ordinance shall be, “The city of ................... ordains.” Each ordinance shall require for its passage the concurrence of a majority of all the aldermen elected or appointed, exclusive of the mayor or other officer or person legally exercising the duties of the office of mayor. The time when an ordinance takes effect shall be prescribed in the ordinance. If the ordinance imposes a sanction, the ordinance shall take effect not less than 20 days after the day of its passage."
Which effectively confirm the City Charter. When the Ludington City Council passed the Workplace Safety Policy as "law" they violated not only numerous acts of the State and Federal Government and the civil liberties of all Ludington citizens, but also violated their own City Charter and the very way they are supposed to craft laws.
Seriously, do any of these councilors remember the Civics lessons they should have learned in the third grade?
Since when does the city council of Ludington follow strict protocol and their own laws..........if it doesn't fit their agenda, it's totally ignored, and on and on till they get what they want, that's the ONLY bottom line. Also, since when did we see or hear anything that resembles creative thinking and doing on the job, the IQ's of these sheeple isn't what got them voted in, it was apathy by the masses to allow any body to sit in the seat that can put their name on the ballot, mostly hand-picked unopposed candidates by the sheeple leaving office is what I see. So the repetitive stagnant thinking and actions continue into the future unabated.
As far as the Medical Marijuana laws/ordinances go ,I would say this. --- "Any political candidate that opposes the Medical Marijuana law,PLEASE hammer that opinion home for the last two months of your campaign."...... Since over 63% of the citizens of Michigan supported MM laws by vote and it passed in every county, these idiots will be defeated by a wide margin and won't be heard from again.
I got lost reading the sections of the codes. Could you just explain, without referencing the code sections verbatim, how an ordinance comes into being. I couldn't get past 7.1 and how it relates to the creation of an ordinance. Thanks
Here's a brief synopsis of a corruption-free ordinance making sequence, as I understand it, in Ludington:
1.An ordinance may be introduced by any Councilmember at any regular meeting. This is generally crafted and drafted beforehand at committee meetings with three councilors and other city officers present. It may be reviewed by a City Attorney if it is not altogether straightforward.
Upon introduction of any ordinance copies are distributed to the City Council. Copies of the proposed ordinance are available to the public in the City Clerk's office along with a posting of the same information in the newspaper.
2.A public hearing follows the publication (in the LDN) and is held during a regular Council meeting. At this time anyone has the right to speak on the issue.
3.After the public meeting, the Council may adopt the ordinance or deny it. If there are any changes to the ordinance the Council will not accept the ordinance until the changes have been subjected to all the procedures needed in the case of a newly introduced ordinance.
4.All adopted ordinances are publicly posted and published within two weeks following the adoption.
Unless for emergencies, they don't go into effect until 20 days.
You should be a teacher. You explained that beautifully. Clear and concise. Thanks