Sunday, December 18, 2016

Stacking the Deck with Aldermen Liaison Appointments

There is a special called meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday, December 20.  The agenda is linked here.  It seems that even before the new alderman, Dean Massey, has been officially welcomed into the fold, the Board liaisons to the various commissions have been decided, without any apparent input from the actual aldermen. 

Here is the announcement: 

One would think that the aldermen would have some sort of say into which commisions they served on, but apparently not this year, according to Sarah Freeman (see letter). For an indication of how it has been divvied out in the past, consider this from 2008: 

Of particular interest to me was the fourth and fifth paragraph above: 

Alderman Drinnon asked that in the selection process if there was a policy, understanding, or rule that no one alderman would serve on more than one commission from the Department of Development, specifically, the BZA, DRC, or the Planning Commission. 

The Mayor (Goldsworthy) restated that the consensus of the Board was that an alderman should serve in no more than one of the three community development commissions that make recommendations for quasi judicial decisions (BZA, DRC, and Planning Commission. 

Please note that the announcement this year had Forrest Owens assigned as a liaison to ALL THREE of the quasi judicial commissions. Yet, for purposes of checks and balances, in the past it was not considered appropriate for a single alderman to be appointed to more than one of these commissions. 

Also note that there was no arbitrary assignment of aldermen to liaison positions in the past. Is this something that the mayor and City Administrator should decide by fiat? 

Just as Forrest Owens seems to be overburdened with the quasi judicial decision making positions, Rocky Janda has landed the financial ones. Sarah Freeman explained it all in her email to me. 

What is particularly odd is that just as the aldermen are digesting their arbitrary commission assignments, they are also supposed to be able to pass judgment on the citizens sitting on those commissions, without having time to review the applications. 

Something is amiss. In particular I am concerned that the checks and balances that were deemed appropriate in 2008 have been dropped, and, as Sarah noted, there seems to be an imbalance of power into the hands of two aldermen, neither of whom will be up for re-election until 2020. 

The Commercial Appeal posted an online article on this subject a few hours before the scheduled meeting.   

Germantown Mulls Aldermen Appointments, Critics cite Power Grab 

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