Council members appear perilously close to hosting a pointless, directionless work session in the near future.
Members of the Gardner City Council acquiesced to a demand from council members Rich Melton and Lee Moore to host an eventual work session to discuss making changes to how members of boards and commissions are appointed.
The goal of the meeting was unclear from the start: Is it to draft and approve a new ordinance for electing and appointing members of the city council? Is the intent to simply have a discussion about possible changes to charter ordinances that currently govern the city council?
We fear a pointless meeting, in which nothing new will be brought to the table.
It’s simply re-arranging the furniture in a process that was addressed as recently as 2012. When the appointment process was changed a few years ago, the changes made sense.
At the time, the Mayor had the sole power to vet and appoint new council members, planning commissioners, utility board members and board of zoning appeals members.
Now the process requires input from the city council and public interviews when an appointment is made to the council itself.
We applauded those changes. Too much power in the hands of one person is never wise. Neither is making changes for the sake of change.
The new council members argued that those appointed to boards are unelected officials and therefore require additional vetting. However, those boards do not make permanent policy decisions without the consent of the city council.
For what it’s worth, under a ward system, each council person would typically offer his or her own appointments to boards and commissions. But that’s not the system we have, nor does it appear to be a desirous system to those currently seated on the council.
As recently as 2013, council members established a reasonable process for making appointments to boards and commissions. As far as we know, the process has been successful.
The demands of the recently-elected appear to serve no other purpose than to make changes for the sake of change. The furniture is appropriately placed right now.
What the city needs now is a sentiment of stability and predictability. Making changes for change sake doesn’t send that message.
Let’s save changes for when they’re truly necessary, rather than fixing things that don’t need fixing.