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Striving toward openness, Trafford Council revamps committees

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Trafford Council is reworking a couple of committees to make sure they're open to the public and free of conflicts of interest.

In recent weeks, officials have been forming committees to oversee management of the Manchester Room rental site and a redesign of the borough's website.

After a discussion at their May 6 meeting, council members decided not to include any business owners who could benefit financially from any room rentals or a revamping of the website.

As for public participation, some council members want borough officials to make sure residents know that committee meetings are happening.

The discussion stemmed, in part, from a review of an April 23 committee meeting about the possible installation of window dressings in the Manchester Room — a banquet room in the borough building — to block the sun from shining too much light in the room or making it too hot.

Councilman John Daykon complained that he hadn't received previous notice of the meeting. He also said he hadn't been notified that council President Rich Laird created the committee.

Borough Solicitor Craig Alexander downplayed Daykon's accusation that the committee violated the state's open-meeting law. Alexander said the meeting was legal because the attendance of two council members; Mayor Rey Peduzzi; Peduzzi's wife, Bibiana; borough manager Jeff McLaughlin; and a business owner did not represent a quorum.

Nonetheless, Daykon said, borough officials went through too much with the controversial construction of the $2.6-million public-safety building to hold a committee meeting about the Manchester Room without advertising it.

The meetings of the former committee concerning the public-safety building was closed to residents and reporters for more than a year until a new regime took over Trafford Council in March 2012.

Those meetings then were opened to the public, with Peduzzi as chairman.

“It's a taxpayer-funded room,” Daykon said. “(Committee meetings) should be open to the public.”

Peduzzi reacted to Daykon's comments by withdrawing himself and his wife from the Manchester Room committee.

“You can take my name off,” Peduzzi said. “I don't want any part of the committee, and neither does Bib.”

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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