Aug. 9, 2011 — Understandably, when dealing with appointed commissions, the Susanville City Council wants to make sure those appointed know municipal code, the General Plan and other nuances important to the city.
Last week, the council at the discretion of Mayor Lino Callegari could reappoint to Susanville Planning Commissioners to another four-year term or advertise in the newspaper as per past practice for letters of interest with interviews to follow.
Evidently, in April the city did advertise and did received four letters of interest from incumbents Beth Bennett and Dan Foster and two community members, Vicky Lozano and Jeff Garnier. After interviews, Bennett and Foster were reappointed to the commission.
At the Aug. 9 meeting, City Planner Jared Hancock asked if the mayor wanted to advertise for two seats open when Commissioner Gene Stark and Alan Dowdy’s terms expired at the end of June. The council agreed to reappoint Stark and Dowdy without advertising the positions because they have heard no complaints and commissioners need to be well versed in the job even though Lozano and Garnier are still interested in the positions.
Truthfully, the council chambers has a handful of citizens in the audience and if it weren’t for the media, we are not sure if the people of the city would know what decisions are being made on their behalf unless controversy arises.
One argument the council presented for reappointing the men without advertising is the lack of letters of interest it often receives. We feel that is an invalid reason for not notifying the public of open commission seats. As with these open seats, there are people interested, but as one of the applicants said, “How will I ever get a chance to serve?”
The council did direct staff to look into the possibility of adding alternates to the commission or expanding the commission to include more members. We will be watching in the coming months to see if any progress is made on either idea. The thought of turning away two people offering their time and energy for the sake of convenience seems lazy at best. Not to advertise the positions smacks of not being transparent and after the city of Bell fiasco, we would have thought our seasoned council would have known better.
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