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Editorial: Politics in staff changes

The tug-of-war between the City Council and its appointed commissions and committees has never been demonstrated so strongly as in the incident of an alternate Design Review Board member being elected as chairman, over the objections of city staff and others.

One of those who voted for the election of Ken Sadler to the “head" post "” despite the fact that, as an alternate, he can legally sit on the panel only when someone is absent or recused from service "” blames the council for “demoting" Sadler from a regular seat to the alternate position.

In order to keep the disgruntled member from bolting, he was given the title of chairman. But in fact, it is the chair pro tem who will lead most of the meetings because that person is a regular member. City staff failed to persuade the board majority not to go down the road of having an alternate serve as chairman because of the pitfalls, and possibility of confusion for the public and the staff (not to mention the board itself) from such an arrangement.

If it is true, and we’re not saying it is, that miffed feelings led to this odd appointment, it speaks to the sense of entitlement over service that is unfortunate for some on these boards and panels. The appointments are seen by some as a political plum, and when this plum is withheld, emotions can run high. We have seen tears flow in a council meeting after one incumbent lost her seat on a panel to someone new. The council quickly moved to rescind the appointment, and the tears dried up. Perhaps, instead of bowing to emotions, the council should view such an outburst as a sign that “new blood" is needed.

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Because the council is reluctant to unseat incumbents, there is little hope or reason for new people to apply, and the city is frequently lacking applicants for these seats.

Until the council imposes some kind of limits, or definite term limits, on board memberships, emotions will continue to override common sense.



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