Detroit Documenters have been trying to attend meetings of the Detroit Transportation Corp. (DTC) board of directors for more than six months. The DTC operates the Detroit People Mover and employs the city’s transit police officers. Every time Documenters have been assigned to attend and report back, the meeting ends up being canceled. The board is also fond of meeting on dates that weren’t listed on its 2023 Meeting Dates page.
The People Mover may only go in a circle, but it’s still a key transportation infrastructure. There are also outstanding questions about DTC finances after an audit report in January revealed unregulated spending of public money.
Because all but one of the scheduled meetings have been canceled in 2023 so far, the Detroit Documenters tried to get their hands on meeting minutes. No one from the communications office replied.
Luckily, the Detroit Documenters network has a local transit advocate who made it to the last DTC meeting and took notes. We learned minutes could be obtained at the DTC office in the Buhl Building downtown on Griswold.
Detroit Documenters weren’t in fact able to get minutes in person. Instead, we were given a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request form.
Agencies are allowed to require a FOIA request for minutes, even if it seems excessive. At the DTC, the request needed to first go through a “risk manager.” Regardless of the process, agencies in Michigan are legally required to provide minutes for public inspection.
Thirteen days and a few emails later, we received the minutes via email. A few days after that, they also arrived by mail to our office. The authority has held five meetings so far this year. They’ve discussed contracts for policing, surveillance, maintenance, upgrades and financing. The board also approved office furniture, moving expenses and new administrative office space in the Guardian Building for an eye-popping $1,392,154 over five years.
The board includes the city’s Executive Director of Transit G. Michael Staley (replacing C. Mikel Oglesby who recently left the position), the city’s Deputy Chief Financial Officer John Naglick, and Luke Polcyn from the Mayor’s Office. City Council President Mary Sheffield is also on the board but has not attended a meeting this year. Neither has Oakland County Chief Deputy Executive Hilarie Chambers.
Detroit Documenters were looking forward to attending the Oct. 24 meeting of the DTC board of directors, which had been posted for weeks online. But by the time of publication, their web page was instead showing two past meeting dates which never happened and one scheduled for November. We have no idea what it says at the point you are reading this. Stay tuned for a follow-up on DTC’s lack of meeting accessibility.