Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eureka residency rule sinks Mayor's nominees

Councilmembers Glass, Atkins block appointments to Planning Commission, Housing Board

David Courtland, Humboldt Sentinel


An ongoing battle over appointments to city commissions dominated Tuesday's Eureka City Council meeting, as Linda Atkins and Larry Glass teamed up to kill several of Mayor Virginia Bass' nominations to key boards.

Atkins said she had a problem with appointing non-residents and Glass protested two veteran planning commissioners should have been reappointed, prompting them to cast several critical votes against some of the nominees.

“"I'm concerned we're breaking precedent by not reappointing two people who served and wanted to continue,"” said Glass. “While I rarely agree with them I would say they have served admirably and they bring a lot to the table.”"

Bass and councilmembers Mike Jones and Frank Jager, who had interviewed candidates, countered that the nominees were as knowledgeable as the two who hadn't been reappointed, and hadn't been chosen lightly.

“"This is certainly not to say we weren't satisfied with what (incumbents) were doing, but giving somebody else a chance is one of the reasons we have term limits,"” said Jager. "“It was just our opinion these individuals should be given a chance.”"

But the city's rule that non-resident nominees need four votes in support instead of a simple majority of three worked against Roger Peters, Andrew Redden and Lee Ulansey as Atkins and Glass voted against their nominations. Jones, Jager and Jeff Leonard cast the votes in support. Bass could not vote for her own nominees.

County residents who own businesses in Eureka or live in the city's community services district can serve on city commissions and boards. Peters had been nominated for the Housing Authority Board and Ulansey for the Planning Commission.

Atkins and Glass also voted against Jeff Regan's appointment to the Planning Commission, but since he is a Eureka resident, votes to approve from Jones, Jager and Leonard carried. The council also voted 4-1 with Glass dissenting to appoint Sue McDonald to the Open Spaces, Parks & Recreation Commission.

Kay Escarda, James Matthias, Richard Muse, Robert Fasic and Lance Madsen all got unanimous votes. Escarda, Matthias and Muse were appointed to the Housing Authority; Fasic and Madsen will keep their seats on the Redevelopment Advisory Board, which has only met once this year.

In addition

Glass agreed to table his rental housing license bill until the first meeting in October. Glass and a task force have been working for months on the ordinance, which aims to reduce blighted housing that contributes to crime.

Jones, Jager and Leonard raised concerns that it wasn't clear whether people who rented rooms in single family homes, mother-in law units and flophouses were excluded from the licensing.

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