UPDATE September 16, 2014: We've learned that AURI has cancelled Thursday's meeting and will post more when we learn why. Learn more in our latest post,AURI cancels September 18 board meeting. [end update]
While the average Minnesotan might not know of the existence of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), it's a resource for ag producers that grew out of the farm crisis of the 1980s.
Bluestem knows several fine family livestock farmers who've gotten technical assistance for developing better bacon and such things.
At the regularly scheduled board meeting on Thursday, several controversial bylaw changes are up for consideration. If passed, Bluestem is told that apparently two board members (possibly more) would immediately be bounced off the board, one who represents the Minnesota Farmers Union and is the Lac Qui Parle County MFU chair (Bluestem's editor is an MFU member and serves on the policy committee); the other is state representative Andrew Falk (a farmer who serves our district in the state legislature; his family's seed company won the Grand Champion ribbon for soybeans this year at the Minnesota State Fair).
Both people are respected in our communities (mileage may vary on the latter according to partisan affiliation), and so these changes are concerning.
But if the public wanted to attend this meeting and watch the debate over the changes (Bluestem is told that there's an ongoing argument about whether the alterations are legal), we might have a difficult time finding out where and when the board meeting takes place.
Two days before the meeting, here's what's visible on AURI's website:
We hovered our mouse pointer over the date (bottom right hand corner) when we took the screenshot about an hour ago. Here's the events page listing and here's the specific page for the meeting, where the place is still: "Location TBA" and no time is provided.
UPDATE: A reader searched the State Register, and the place and time was not published there, either. [end update]
There's new language in Minnesota's open meeting laws that allow information to be posted via websites, and the entire statute can be found here. It would seem that since AURI is posting its meeting schedule online, changes in the schedule--like place and time--should be posted at least three days in advance.
After all, AURI is headquartered in Crookston, with branch facilties in Marshall, Waseca and St.Paul, so it would take some consideration for many people to decide if they'd make a trip.
AURI also has a twitter account, so we thought that maybe the staff shared the meeting information via social media. Nope:
So where's the meeting? Sources tell us that a regular business meeting of the AURI Board of Directors is scheduled for Thursday, September 18th at 8:30 a.m. in the Lake Superior Boardroom at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest located at 7025 Northland Drive North in Minneapolis.
Information for meeting planners online at the hotel's website show the location of the Lake Superior Boardroom, and the photo the hotel provides suggests that the meeting site isn't really designed to accommodate members of the public who are curious or concerned about the activity of the board.
We'd recommend that members of the public get there early so that hotel staff have time to find extra chairs.
What are the proposed by-law changes? What's the discussion? We'll have more about this as the meeting approaches.
Photo: The Lake Superior Boardroom, via the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.(top); screenshots from AURI online assets (below).
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