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Measure to limit serial appointments fails
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A measure that would have discouraged McMinnville officials from making serial appointments to several boards and commissions failed Tuesday night.
The measure failed 5-2. Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Ken Smith, Jimmy Bonner and Rick Barnes voted against it, while Aldermen Mike Neal and Billy Wood voted in favor of it.
The measure would have affected the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Board of Adjustment Appeals, the Historic Zoning Commission, the Board of Public Utilities, the Alcoholic Beverage Board, the County Tax Equalization Board, the Industrial Development Board and the Tri County Railroad Authority.
Prior to the measure failing, Neal encouraged the board to vote in favor of it.
“The resolution being proposed is a policy directed at this board regarding criteria used in making various board appointments,” said Neal. “The intent is to allow more opportunities to the citizens to serve on various boards which fall under this board’s authority.”
Neal denies the measure is about setting term limits.
“It is not about setting term limits placed on these particular positions, but a policy restricting this board in the appointment process. Plain and simple, it is saying we are going to do all we can to stop serial appointments,” said Neal.
Serial appointments are not fair to the public, says Neal.
“This resolution is about fairness,” he said. “Expressing the wishes of this board to treat all the citizens equally. It’s about representing all 14,000 citizens of the city and giving them all equal opportunity to serve, if they so wish.”
Concerns have been expressed by some board members the measure will leave a void if new individuals cannot be found.
More concerns include the need for longevity due to the amount of time it would take to train a new person on how a particular board operates. Neal says the board is showing favoritism to certain individuals and using that as an excuse.
“They use this as an excuse to continue the status quo,” said Neal. “I believe we have a bunch of smart folks in this city who are up to the challenge of learning all the particulars of these boards so let’s not insult their intelligence with this excuse.”
The mayor recommends to the board individuals for appointment.
“The board can always vote no to any of those appointments,” said Haley. “You say it insults the integrity of our public, or whatever, but I think it would insult my integrity if you challenge the people I bring up here. However, that’s your priority to do. If the people I bring before you are not adequate, I expect you to vote no.”
Newman says he would prefer the board to police itself over setting down a policy in writing.
“I don’t think we need to tie our hands to do things when we already have difficulty in finding people to put in these positions,” said Newman. “I don’t think we are showing favoritism in appointing these positions. It’s difficult. It takes time out of their day. People give of themselves to fill these positions.”
Before the measure failed, Wood made a motion to include the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The suggestion failed due to lack of a second.
Tennessee Municipal League legal consultant Melissa Ashburn informed the city it could not set term limits for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The city is under a General Law Charter which does not allow term limits to be set.