Letter: Appointments not good government

Editor, The Spotlight:

The City’s Comprehensive Plan has been the focus of recent discussions by City Council. Critically important, this plan shapes how much and in what ways the city will develop. Its review should encompass the full participation of the council. Mayor Johnson has determined that it is his exclusive role to appoint the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, though he is not given this authority in any city or state document. Historically, all city commissioners have had appointments to Comprehensive Plan Review Committees.

The majority of commissioners, myself included, have advised the mayor that all council members are invested in this important committee, and as such all council members should meaningfully participate. The Mayor’s response was to send us a confidential memo containing the names of his 11 appointees, and asking for additional recommendations for possible inclusion. In addition to reserving his right to name the entire committee, he suggested that our recommendations be chosen from his own appointment list.

We were instructed not to share this memo with anyone, including the public.

My objections to this process have nothing to do with the individuals listed in the mayor’s memo, though I do believe that key community constituencies are omitted, and I am disturbed by his characterization of his appointees as “major players” who have “earned” the right to be on the committee. My objections can be reduced to these issues.

Until forced to do so, the mayor sought no input from fellow elected officials. This is counter to precedent and in violation of the spirit of our commission form of government. All City Council members are elected to be responsive to the city’s citizens and all have equal votes on legislative issues. All council members share the duty to guarantee that the interests of citizens are considered. The creation of a Comprehensive Plan Review Committee in isolation from the rest of the council is inappropriate and unacceptable.

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