On Feb. 25, residents from throughout Livingston County will attend the meeting of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners as part of a “People’s Filibuster” to express opposition to the county commission’s decision to stop broadcasting its meetings.
The county commission had been recording its Monday night, full-board meetings and posting them online, a practice it began in September 2017, but a 2-1 subcommittee vote in November 2018 ended the practice.
“It is embarrassing that our county government has chosen to become less transparent,” said Jordan Genso, a Brighton resident who helped organize the pressure campaign that was the catalyst for the county beginning to record their meetings. “We are using one of the few levers of influence guaranteed to us by law – the Call to the Public – to effectively filibuster their meeting.
“When I organized more than 30 residents to attend a December 2016 board meeting, I was the only one to speak during the Call to the Public, but we made it clear that if the county government didn’t begin allowing us to observe their meetings without attending in-person, then we’d return, and each of us would use our three minutes of time to extend their meeting as long as possible.”
“After that December 2016 meeting, we patiently waited during the nine months it took the board to create a subcommittee that then evaluated their options and selected one to implement,” Genso added, “but that subcommittee’s 2-1 vote this past November (with one of the two votes in the majority coming from a county commissioner who would no longer be serving at the end of the year) to revert back to their non-transparent ways was unacceptably disappointing.
“So I attended the Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 2 and Jan. 14 meetings to inform them during the Call to the Public that we would be enacting the ‘People’s Filibuster’ at their Feb. 25 meeting, giving them the opportunity to again take up the broadcasting issue and do the right thing. They’re sadly chosen not to.”
“We would prefer to not have to do this,” Genso said. “But if they are going to force us to attend the meetings as our only way of staying informed, then all we can do is make our attendance something they dread.”
Genso is expecting more than two dozen attendees at the upcoming meeting, each of whom will speak for their allotted three minutes during the Call to the Public, extending the meeting length by more than an hour or two.
“Some of the attendees will be local Democrats, as well as other progressive activists involved with the Livingston County Indivisible group,” Genso said. “But this is a non-partisan issue, and even the Republican voters I have spoken with about this agree with the filibuster and plan to participate as well. It’s just about good governance.”
Jordan Genso has been a community organizer and member of the Livingston County Democratic Party Executive Committee since 2008. He currently serves on the Brighton District Library Board and Brighton City ZBA.