Monday, January 28, 2019

Town Council: New and Old Go "Toe To Toe"

11 new faces on 5 Oro Valley commissions
The Oro Valley Town Council appointed 11 new members to five of its boards and commissions at last week's town council meeting. This represents a sea change by bringing fresh insight and energy from Oro Valley's citizen involved community to town affairs.

Favoritism no more
This contrasts sharply with the Hiremath years. During those years, the town eliminated the Art Review Board, The Conceptual Design Review Board, and the Bond and Finance Commission. These totaled "...19 citizens that were removed from being involved in our community," according to Mayor Winfield, in his remarks during last week's council meeting.  In addition, that council eliminated term limits on boards and commissions, assuring virtual life-long appointments for those who were favored by them.

December council decision reinstated commission term limits
Mayor Winfield observed that the decision to return to board and commission term limits at the December 5 council meeting was a return to a policy that had been successful prior to the Hiremath council changing it.

"The intent of restoring term limits was to open the door to citizen involvement." In just one month, the policy change has increased citizen interest in serving on boards and commissions: 42 applications for 13 positions.  This is a marked increase over recent past years when people were discourage from applying to a board or commission because they knew that close allegiance to the Majority-4 was a requirement and because many of those serving were reappointed.

One year too many
At the meeting, Vice Mayor Barrett, in the spirit of increasing community involvement in town affairs, recommended a new member for Planning and Zoning Commission, rather than reappointing Commissioner Hitt to a sixth year of service. She felt that this is far too long given an objective of increasing community involvement in town affairs.

Rodman: We met the goal of increasing involvement 
Council Member Rodman, the liaison to the commission, responded. He and town planner Bayer Vella had selected Hitt for reappointment on the basis that he is experienced.  Rodman felt that the three new appointees to the commission reflected the demographics of the community and added diversity to the commission. "We recommended two women to be on the commission, who are also family demographic." He also felt that Hitt's reappointed reflected the "...younger family demographic."

Rodman asserted that, Hitt, a former Pima County Planner, brings experience to the board that is lacking in the three new appointed members. In addition, he pointed out that the two remaining members, both of whom are experienced, will be "turned out at the end of the year."

Rodman: Term limits should not work against experience 
Rather than focusing on this specific appointment, Rodman then revisited the December 5 decision on term limits.

"To me, I'm disappointed" that people can not serve beyond their current term, even though they are qualified. "That does not make sense for the future of the town. Our job was to select the most qualified candidates. Our job was not to worry about politics and political promises."

Rodman and Pina supported reappointment
Council Member Solomon, speaking in what appeared to be a prepared remark, proffered his support of reappointing Hitt. Tomorrow we will report Solomon's comments since they became noteworthy because of their accusatory nature.

"It's really hard for me to understand how we can bring on three new people and not allow one experienced person stay on board to help them get up to speed," Council Member Pina noted. Pena was not correct in this statement because there are two members continuing on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Thus, they can help the new members.

Winfield: 18 new faces "I have great confidence in."
Mayor Winfield observed that tonight's appointment of 11 new commission members, the future appointment of five people to the budget and finance commission, plus the future appointment of two vacant seats on the Historical Preservation Commission will bring total number of new citizen involvement to 18 people! "These are people that I have great confidence in."

The council approved the proposed board and commission members on a 4-3 vote. Pina, Rodman and Solomon stated that they approved of all the appointments. However, they voted no to express displeasure that Hitt was not reappointed.

You can watch the council discussion via this link.