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Publication Date: Friday, November 30, 2001

City Council in-fight erupts over commission appointments City Council in-fight erupts over commission appointments (November 30, 2001)

By Bill D'Agostino

Council members Mary Lou Zoglin and Rosemary Stasek stirred up a hornet's nest during Tuesday night's city council meeting when they announced they wanted to review a council subcommittee's recommendations for appointments to the library board, environmental planning commission, human relations commission, and parks and recreation commission.

The timing of the complaint angered the three members of the Council Appointment Review Committee, Ralph Faravelli, Matt Pear and Mario Ambra.

Faravelli said he felt "slapped in the face" by Stasek and Zoglin's desires to change the process so near to its conclusion. In six of his seven years on the council, Faravelli said, this has been the followed and accepted procedure for appointing commissioners.

Faravelli pointed out the committee "worked very hard to find the most qualified candidates."

In early November, the three members of the Council Appointment Review Committee spent three days interviewing each candidate for the open spots on the commissions and board. Unlike previous years, when there was a group interview, Faravelli said the committee spend time interviewing each individual nominee to ensure the best lot.

Stasek and Zoglin both said that they've felt for a long time that the entire council should be the ones to interview and appoint the commissioners, rather than just a small select committee.

Council member Michael Kasperzak agreed with Zoglin and Stasek, questioning what he saw as the "assumption that the committee's recommendations will be approved wholesale."

Stasek made a motion for the entire council to interview the candidates but that died for lack of a second. Moments later, the council voted 4-3 (with Pear, Ambra and Faravelli dissenting) to have the Council Appointment Review Committee take a second look at the nominees.

Exactly what that will entail, however wasn't clear after the meeting, as one member of the committee - its chair, Council member Ralph Faravelli - resigned from the committee as a result of the heated discussion.

Vice Mayor Sally Lieber also voted for the measure, saying she wanted to honor her fellow council members' request for more information.

Ambra accused the dissenting council members of a Brown Act violation, believing they had discussed the issue before the meeting.

Zoglin said she had not spoken to any of the other council members about the issue. She believed the three other council members who voted to not approve the recommended nominees came to their conclusions independently.

Ambra also accused Zoglin and Stasek of targeting certain commission nominees in their complaint. Zoglin said she was not personally attacking any one individual; she just felt there were changes in the procedure for appointing commissioners this year. "I had certain expectations because of the past," Zoglin added.

In the years previous, Zoglin pointed out, appointments review committee _ which is appointed by the mayor _ would include the mayor and the vice mayor, ensuring a diversity of opinion.

This year, however, Ambra appointed himself, but did not appoint Vice Mayor Sally Lieber.

"It really was just one segment of the council;" Stasek agreed. "In the past there was more diversity in the committee make-up."

Faravelli said the problems his fellow council members had about the process should have been addressed earlier, not just as they were getting ready to appoint them.

Stasek admitted that the timing of her and Zoglin's announcement was "inelegant," but attributed that to the council's hectic schedule.

"We are so busy that we deal with things as they come before us," Stasek said. "Sometimes that's not the best timing."

The council did accept the nominations the committee made for the Downtown Committee, Performing Arts Advisory Committee and Visual Arts Committee on Tuesday night.

Stasek said she was willing to approve the other nominations without interviewing them because the four commissions are more "high profile" than the committees.

Addressing the council on Tuesday night, Edward Mussman II _ who was recommended for the Parks and Recreation Commission by the committee _ said he "wasn't planning on speaking tonight; I was planning on celebrating."

Mussman added he was disappointed in the decision to not go forward with the recommendations on Tuesday, but hoped he would still be chosen in the end.

The morning after the meeting, Zoglin said her goal was not to point fingers at anyone. She was surprised how strong Faravelli's reaction was to her proposal.

"I regret that the committee members and the appointees were embarrassed," Zoglin said.


 

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