Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New council committees and the politics behind the appointments

Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle has the complete list of old Toledo City Council assignments versus the new ones under the reduced number of committees.

Interestingly, Phil Copeland has ended up as the Vice-Chairman of the new Human Resources, Information Technology and Finance Committee. Why is this so interesting? Because, as I understand it, D. Michael Collins was promised that position.

I've been told that Wilma Brown, the new council president, reneged on her promise to slot Collins there so she could gain Copeland's support for the council president vote.

Remember all the outrage when Lindsay Webb changed her mind and didn't vote for Mike Ashford as president of council? Something tells me that type of 'offense' won't be given for this broken promise between Collins, Copeland and Brown.

Lisa Renee, in her post, urges readers to call Wilma Brown and object to placing Copeland in the vice-chair role. Lisa believes, as do I, that the vice chair should at least have some experience on the Finance Committee before being put in charge of that vital assignment, especially considering the budget fiasco that faces the city. This is especially true since council also changed the rules about who could chair a committee's meeting. The vice-chair is now authorized to call and chair a committee meeting if the named chair doesn't do so within 24 hours of a request by the vice chair.

I can see all sorts of difficulties coming out of this rule change, especially with the friction we've seen on council between the various Democrat teams, but perhaps that's the point of the new rule: to allow one faction to upstage the other?

Some other interesting aspects of the new committee assignments include the ones given to Joe McNamara. He's vice chair of Economic Development and will serve on HR, IT & Finance; Intergovernmental Relations and Environment; Neighborhoods, Community Development & Health; and Utilities and Public Service. Of course, he's 'considering' (as in I formed a committee to start raising money and getting support but haven't officially announced) a run for state senate. Until he decides whether or not he's going to stay on council, I'd just appoint him to serve on committees and not put him as the chair or vice chair of any. Why 'reward' someone with a leadership position who's expressed an interest in leaving and will be rather busy running for another position?

Then there is brand new councilman Adam Martinez. As a new councilman, he's garnered some rather key positions: Chair of Neighborhoods, Community Development & Health; Vice Chair of Zoning and Planning; member of Economic Development; member of Youth Parks, Recreation & Community Relations; and an alternate on HR, IT & Finance.

Other than his political connections, what, exactly, qualifies him to be put in leadership positions as a novice council member? Every council person who has served says that the first six months (or so) are spent just learning where to go to get information. But Brown has put a 'newbie' (with respects to my favorite TV show NCIS) in charge of critical committees?

My district rep, Lindsay Webb, previously chaired the Youth, Parks and Recreation committee. Now she's the vice chair Utilities and Public Service. She also serves on three other committees, including the one she used to chair. No chairmanship for her.

Surprisingly, Tom Waniewski, District 5, ended up with the fewest assignments: Chair of Intergovernmental Relations & Environment and member of Economic Development and
Utilities & Public Service.

UPDATE: As Lisa Renee writes in the comments below, and which I forgot when doing the original post, Waniewski is also considering a run for the same senate seat as McNamara, so the comments about giving any leadership position to people who would rather have another position apply to Waniewski as well.

I do not know if Webb's and Waniewski's assignments are by choice or part of some other political reasoning.

I understand both the logic of the appointments and the philosophy of 'to the victor go the spoils' when it comes to committee assignments within a political body. Understanding, however, does not equate to approval and it's sad when such assignments are used for the good of the individual making the appointments rather than for the good of the constituents council is supposed to be representing.

Remember, members of city council are your employees. You are their boss. If you have opinions about this, you have an obligation to call Council President Wilma Brown and instruct her accordingly.


1 comment:

Lisa Renee said...

Perhaps Waniewski has less since he's also running for the Senate. From what I understood, Webb requested what she was given.

Thanks for helping to get this out there, I appreciate it. :-)

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