Danedri Thompson
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Each council person and the Mayor will make appointments to five recently created citizen advisory committees. Council members appeared to reach a consensus to re-craft the way committee members are appointed during an Oct. 19 work session.
As initially established, each of the five council members would recommend names for appointment for each of the committees. Then Mayor Chris Morrow would formally nominate those individuals for appointment. Appointments would have needed to receive a majority vote of the council in order to serve.
One committee, a streets and sidewalks advisory committee, was established, but the process hit a snag after council members Rich Melton, Lee Moore and Steve Shute opposed two recommendations of council member Kristina Harrison. Moore opposed the appointment of Adriana Meder to the economic development committee. Meder serves as Chair of the Gardner Planning Commission. Moore opposed allowing Meder to serve on a committee at all, though other members agreed to allow her to serve as an ex-officio, or non-voting, committee member, but the process hit another snag when Melton opposed Harrison’s recommendation of Steve Hale to citizens police advisory committee. Melton said Hale had not attended the citizens police academy. He also said Hale, a former council member, did not appropriately fund the department when he served on the governing body. Finally, Melton accused Hale of harassing one of the other recommended members of the police advisory committee.
At that point, Morrow ended the discussion and after the meeting, said he would not appoint Hale or Walter Hermreck, a Moore recommended appointment, to the police advisory committee.
At the Oct. 17 work session, council members set out to re-craft legislation that created the committees.
Harrison said she spoke with Johnson County Commission Chair Ed Eilert to inquire how the county makes appointments to various boards and committees. The county uses two different appointment processes for its seven boards and committees.
On some county boards, Eilert retains the sole power of appointment.
“He’s never had one not pass,” Harrison said.
On other county boards, each commissioner nominates a member to the board. Appointments typically appear on the consent agenda.
Items on the consent agenda are typically bundled and approved en masse without discussion.
Commissioners send their names to county staff, who forward the potential nominee to other commissioners.
“They are asked to contact that commissioner if there is a problem (with a nominee),” Harrison said. “They had one issue about four years ago. Some commissioners had some issues with one appointment.”
The nominating commissioner decided to put the name forward despite their concerns.
“And (the commission) still passed it on the consent agenda,” Harrison said.
Gardner council members seemed to reach a consensus to use a similar process. To do so will require Mayor Morrow to make appointments to the five local committees. That would create a committee of six, and the possibility of tie committee votes.
As it currently stands, each member of the Gardner council serves as an ex-officio member of one of the five committees. In the future, the ex-officio committee members will be responsible for breaking ties.
Council members also debated creating specific qualifications for those appointed to the committees.
“There are certain things we don’t want,” Moore said.
He proposed disallowing the appointment of people who had previously served on the council.
“I hope the purpose of these committees is to foster an environment of participation from citizens so we can start to cultivate the next generation of people,” Moore said.
He questioned the capacity in which former members of the governing body would contribute to a committee.
Melton said he would rather see new people than old faces on the committees. However, Morrow said he would prefer that the committees not be exclusionary.
Harrison said there isn’t exactly a waiting list to serve on those committees.
“So now that we have that a council person will bring a person forward, let’s allow the committees to foster that balance,” Harrison said.
Council members must still redraft and approve the changes in a future meeting. Meanwhile, the streets and sidewalks committee will continue to operate and meet. Morrow will appoint or add one member to the committee.
In other business, council members:
• heard a presentation about funding capacity for future city capital projects;
• adopted a resolution allowing conceal and carry permit holders to carry firearms into city hall;
• adopted a resolution revising the city’s personnel policy to allow city staff with permits to conceal and carry in city hall.