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Publication Date: Friday, December 07, 2001

Controversies, present and future Controversies, present and future (December 07, 2001)

The city council's ongoing spat over committee appointments is the result of a series of mishandled political decisions on the part of various city council members. But the current dispute also highlights changes that have taken place in city politics over the last year.

When, at the beginning of his term, Mayor Mario Ambra appointed himself and Council members Ralph Faravelli and Matt Pear to the appointment review committee, the stage was set for a messy situation.

But when the other council members _ who apparently were not happy with Ambra's break from the tradition of appointing the mayor, vice mayor, and former mayor to the committee _ did not voice their concerns in a timely fashion, the series of events leading to this fight was set in motion.

Whispers of discontent were heard when Ambra originally named the appointment committee members, but no one on the council made a public issue out of it. Perhaps it would have been unseemly at that point to turn this into a public controversy.

Now, though, after the recent grand jury charges against Ambra and the nasty fight over committee appointments that took over the Nov. 27 council meeting, the public forum seems to be the best place to handle these concerns.

No one should be surprised that the appointment committee's nominations are not agreeable to the rest of the council; the committee is made up of the three most conservative council members, a group that frequently votes together and represents a minority on the council.

Just as Council members Mary Lou Zoglin and Rosemary Stasek probably should have voiced their issues with this committee when it was named, Faravelli should not have been so surprised when the nominations made by his committee were not accepted by the rest of the council.

Given the committee's makeup, it makes sense that its nominations _ which include the treasurer of Pear's council campaign and at least one person who has publicly endorsed Faravelli, Ambra and Pear _ would be questioned by the rest of the council.

But it would also make sense for council members to brace themselves for the fallout that comes from such controversial decisions. The council might not be as civil now as it was when Ambra named the committee; for that reason, council members should be prepared for controversies like this, and realize that they will likely continue in the near future.

Council members must work through the controversies they encounter now and in the future, and also continue their legislative duties while dissent continues among community members and perhaps city employees.


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