Friday, June 20, 2014
After having attended City Council meetings since January, 2014, I was indeed pleased to hear some cogent questions asked--FINALLY--at the last City Council meeting! The questions were asked by the two newest Council members who were elected for the first time in November. The topic which elicited the questions was regarding re-appointments to Boards and Commissions.
It was apparent that the two newest Council members did not understand the procedure by which appointees are selected to serve on Boards and Commissions and neither do I. I was surprised as I assumed that the new members would be provided some kind of training or would have information imparted to them before meetings, rather than having it thrown at them in public meetings. I was also surprised that the two newest members had not sought out the information in the months of November and December, following their election victories.
After seeing the peevish behavior and the supercilious and condescending behavior of the City Manager and other Council members, I was no longer surprised. How dare the new members ask QUESTIONS!
It did not make any sense to me that the "resolution confirming the re-appointments" had already been made and the two new members of Council obviously knew nothing about it! Those two members voted against (not all) of the re-appointments.
Although those two members asked some relevant questions, I believe that there are other pertinent questions to be asked. I believe in a representative form of government and I have forwarded to my elected representative the following, what I consider to be, germane questions and comments.
Per The Charter Of The City Of Washington Court House (7.7): The Planning and Zoning Commission shall consist of five (5) electors of the City Of Washington Court House, the City Manager (ex-officio), and the Chairperson of City Council. (7.8) The Board Of Zoning Appeals shall consist of 5 electors of the City of Washington Court House.
1. The Zoning Board of Appeals does not have ex-officio members spelled out in the Charter language. Do the City Manager and the Chairperson of the Council also serve as ex officio members of that Board? If not, who has the oversight of that Board?
2. As the Charter states that the City Manager and Chairperson of Council are ex-officio members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, why would they not also be the ones to address the issues regarding the Zoning Board Of Appeals raised by City Council members, rather than by a Building/Zoning Inspector who is, in my opinion, obviously not an appropriate person to be discussing personnel issues?
3. Specifically, on May 28, 2014, why was the person whose title is Building/Zoning Inspector the one allowed to speak about the qualifications of an "elector" to the Zoning Appeals Board? Is he not just an employee? How is it considered appropriate for a Building/Zoning Inspector to be discussing--in a public forum--the qualifications of a candidate for the Zoning Board Of Appeals? Surely that should be the sole discretion of Council, or at least a Committee of Council members.
4. Why would the Building/Zoning Inspector have any input whatsoever in the appointments and re-appointments of "electors" to the Zoning Board Of Appeals?
5. Isn't it an obvious conflict of interest--or at least a question of impropriety--for the Building/Zoning Inspector to participate in the selection of "electors" to the Zoning Board Of Appeals--as he would be guaranteeing the selection of "electors" who would be in agreement with him? (Rather like the fox in the henhouse!)
6. Is there a Committee to review the qualifications of "electors" for the Zoning Board Of Appeals? If so, why wasn't the Chairperson of that Committee--or the City Manager--the one speaking about the "elector" nominated for the Zoning Board Of Appeals, rather than a Building/zoning Inspector?
7. Are there Standing Committees of City Council members who select members to be appointed and re-appointed to serve on the "other" Boards and Commissions not listed in the City Charter? What other Boards and Commissions are there?
8. Why are the "resolutions confirming" appointments and re-appointments already decided when they are placed on the Agenda? Why does City Council even vote as a group when they've already been confirmed?
9. Why does Council wait until the terms are "expired" prior to making resolutions?
10. How are appointees recruited? (Since the Court View Restaurant is closed, where do the people responsible for selecting appointees meet prospective appointees and make offers?)
11. We learned at the June 11, 2014, City Council meeting that the City has a website. Why haven't notices of vacancies been published there?
12. Why aren't notices of vacancies published in the newspaper? Certainly, would not the newspaper publish all notices for free, as a community service; especially since you as a Council member, now have a family connection there?
13. Are the job descriptions detailing expected qualifications/requirements of prospective Board and Commission members contained in The Directive? If not, where are they maintained?
14. Why wasn't the Building/Zoning Inspector present at the June 11, 2014, meeting? Who notifies him; or should the Code Enforcement Officer have been present to address the issue of the house at 924 Lakeview Avenue as it seems to be a Code violation, rather than a Zoning issue?
15. Why aren't the people who are called to speak at meetings identified? I had no idea what the positions were, nor the names of the Building/Zoning Inspector and the Finance Director (AKA "Chief Financial Officer" in the Charter). Why would the Council President obviously assume that the "local residents and taxpayers" know all these people? I am glad that all the Council members, City Manager, and Law Director (AKA as "City Attorney" in the Charter) have name plates which identify them.
16. Are Boards and Commissions supposed to be non-partisan or are there supposed to be an equal number of Republicans and Democrats appointed? Since there are only 5 members of the Boards and Commissions, how would that be handled?