Why The Detroit Free Press is taking on U-M - FOX 32 News Chicago

Why The Detroit Free Press is taking on U-M

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(WJBK) - We are accustom to reading headlines about the U of M vs. this team and that but you must concede the U of M vs. a major newspaper in Detroit is a tad out of the ordinary.

Yet there it is. The Detroit Free Press taking on the Maise and Blue, not on the gridiron but in the courts. The paper alleges the university violated the state's Open Meeting law on a number of occasions. Up until now nobody from the school has said squat about it.

"Not guilty," asserts U of M Regent Mark Bernstein who knows a thing or two about the law, don't ya think?

The board member concedes when he was on the outside looking in, he thought lots of university decisions were hammered out behind close doors only to have those private decisions eventually trotted out in public and ratified there.

He admits, referring to the paper, "I think their instinct is correct," but then he quickly adds, now from the inside looking out, "sometimes where there is smoke, there is no fire."  Which is another way of saying the school has followed the law.

The paper is not so sure as it chronicled in a recent article a host of alleged transgressions including taking the board out of state to discuss issues there rather then in the board room in A2.

So does the board hash out decisions in private and then merely stamp them for approval in public?

"I would not characterize it that way," the noted barrister with the familiar name counters.

He says the board has "robust" discussions in public and private but the closed door sessions, he contends, are permitted under the OMA.

The paper sees it quite differently suggesting that it reviewed 116 votes the board took in public. Of those there was debate on 12 of them and only 8 times did a regent vote "no."

Either the collegiality on the board is off the charts or controversy does not exist in setting university policy or all the ugly debate was done in private with a different tone once the players went on stage?

"No. Truly not," Mr. Bernstein assures everyone. To demonstrate how comfy he is, he predicts that in the U of M vs. the Freep, the courts will side with the Blue and not the folks who own a barrel of ink.



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