Posted by auroracitizen on December 10, 2010
A reader submitted a comment that started us thinking (which is always a scary thought). They were enquiring about committee appointments.
How did Mr. Ballard manage to be on 4 committees when others who applied (my husband included) were brushed off with nothing more than a curt note from the clerk? Wouldn’t it make sense to broaden citizen participation with more diverse experience, knowledge and expertise rather than concentrate it into the chosen few? I hope the process changes this year. We are being short-changed if it is the same old few monopolizing all the committees.
The question for discussion is how should committee members be appointed in the future. What should the process be?
In the past, public notice was made of any opportunities and confidential applications were reviewed in camera by Council. Selections made and announced publicly.
Folks who applied, but were not chosen were not disclosed so people were not offended or embarrassed by not being chosen. But at the same time, there is no opportunity for public scrutiny to confirm that no favouritism was shown or that the best people received the appointment.
The issue was one of how the decisions were made in camera. Were the most appropriate people chosen? Was Council fair and impartial in their selections or was favouritism shown?
Councillor Ballard has been and continues to align himself with Phyllis Morris and her initiatives. When there is an appearance of favouritism it adds a stink to the air that is not helpful to anyone and breeds resentment on all sides — because suddenly there are sides versus working together for the benefit of the community.
To avoid any perception of favouritism and to demonstrate leadership in this area Mayor Dawe clearly stated in his election campaign that none of his key supporters would be appointed to any committees.
This term, a small group populates a disproportionate share of committees. The Town is not leveraging the diverse population to get the broadest input. I commit to encouraging diverse participation and will not support the selection of any of my key campaign team to any Town committee.
He subsequently listed his key campaign team on his website as part of his election thank you’s. So you can quickly tell if any are appointed to any committees.
We fully expect that he will honour this commitment. We are also confident readers will report if they see any conflict with this commitment. It’s pretty transparent from where we sit.
The fact that he felt the need to make this type of commitment suggests his view of past appointments, but does not implicate the process itself.
During his inaugural comments, Councillor Gallo made reference that politicians are held to a higher standard. We agree. They are in a position of public trust. It’s not just what they do, but how they are seen to do it. The commitment to simply not appoint any favourites to committees resets the bar and clarifies his position.
But the question still remains, what is best process for making committee appointments — so it is seen to be fair and transparent by all members of the community.
And in this case, is there a loss to the town? In an effort to make sure the process is seen to be fair and impartial, potentially valued resources are precluded from participation because they were part of Mayor Dawes campaign team.