Monday, December 9, 2013

Will transparencey improve in Davidson with new Board members? - UPDATED

We'll see starting tomorrow...

Two seemingly small things are on the agenda for Tuesday's Town of Davidson Board meeting, but of course small things can have big impact.  What makes these interesting is that the first of these occurs with the current/outgoing Board and the second after the new/incoming Board is seated.

An agenda item for new appointments to the Town Advisory Boards has be buried in the "consent agenda".  The consent agenda is where you send things that are unimportant, things that don't warrant any public discussion, things that the Board "just needs to get through" so to speak.  That hardly seems the place for important town appointments including replacement for new Commissioner Beth Cashion who serves on the Planning.  There are also several spots open on the Livability Board and the Design Review Board.  These are the three most important advisory groups for the Town, and yet, the names of the nominees are not even posted in the agenda a day before the meeting where they will be appointed. (These were added the agenda sometime Monday after this post.  See here for the list.)

Commissioners Jim Fuller and Rodney Graham serve as the Board members on the current nominating committee made up of Mayor Woods, senior Town staff, and chairs of the current committees.  It would serve the public interest and the ideal of government transparency if they did the right thing and asked to have this pulled from the consent agenda and voted on separately at tomorrow's meeting.

I'm sure the folks nominated are qualified.  I'm sure they will do a good job and know the town well.  Most will likely have completed the Town's Civics 101 class where they will have been indoctrinated in the "Davidson Way".  The only question is will they have been selected to truly represent a cross section of town residents.  Having their nominations buried in the consent agenda does not let the public know that.

The second and not-so-small small item to be voted on comes after the new Board is seated tomorrow night.  That's the new Board meeting schedule.  As discussed in the previous post, the new Board will vote on the Mayor Pro Tem.  However, after that they will vote on their meeting schedule.  One item that will improve town transparency actually appears to not be on this proposed meeting schedule.  That's the in-home meetings Commissioners have been having on the 3rd Tuesday to ostensibly discuss "team building".

However, the "special meeting" in March of last year seemed to be discussing actual Town business.  It was no longer just a wine and cheese fest but an actual meeting that really should be held in Town Hall.  While these in-home meetings do follow the letter of the open meetings law and citizens are invited.  They do not seem to fit into the spirit of being "open".  How many people are going to actually feel at ease going into someone's house?  Not too many, would appear to be the answer from reviewing the meeting minutes.

Let's hope removing this meeting is a sign of good things on the horizon from the new Board when it comes to being open and transparent.

UPDATE: The Advisory Board appointments were added to the agenda Monday after this post.  See here for the list.

UPDATE #2: At Tuesday's Board meeting in an updated agenda, these were pulled from the consent agenda prior to the meeting and voted on separately.  They passed unanimously.

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