2006-08-03 / News

Town councilors fill slots in town boards

By Dotti Farrington

Vacancies on several town panels were filled last week by the Town Council.

Councilors also recently accepted three resignations, including one that resulted from a board chairman's report of poor attendance records.

The councilors are still studying data about attendance for all panels, as well as information about the relative effectiveness of the boards, committees and commissions. So far, council members have observed that some panels continue to function well despite some absenteeism.

The councilors decided in June to review operations of all town committees it appoints as a result of discussions about frequent absences reported some weeks ago by Emmet Turley, chairman of the town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee. He asked the council to replace two committee members due to their frequent absence from meetings this year.

Town Solicitor J. William W. Harsch told the council that it has the authority to remove for cause any of its appointees, and suggested removal could best be achieved by "tactful and workable rules." The councilors said they were reluctant to remove appointees, especially because most if not all had provided valuable volunteer service regardless of reports of some attendance problems. The council members usually weigh attendance records as part of their re-appointment process.

Council Vice President Julio DiGiando said removal was like "throwing a kid out of school for not coming to school."

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said Jamestown is not unique with its committee attendance issues. He was assigned to collect data about the experience and attendance policies of other communities.

The councilors at first said problems probably should be evaluated case by case, but then they decided they would review in August the mandates, operations, and attendance of all town committees, based on data being gathered by Town Clerk Arlene Petit.

Resignations

Turley told the council that Frank Andres and Matthew Largess are very knowledgeable and valuable members of the tree committee, but because of their absences, the committee has not had a quorum. Thus, it has been unable to take needed action in recent months. Turley sent the councilors copies of his letters to the two men in which he praised their work when they participated, but expressed concerns about the committee not being able to proceed without quorums.

The committee consists of seven members, with four needed to attend for a quorum. Turley did not refer to the attendance records of other members.

Andres submitted a letter of resignation, but promised to continue to attend meetings and otherwise provide volunteer services as his schedule permits. Largess, a licensed arborist, some weeks ago wrote to the councilors, "I still want to be a member of the tree committee. I have done many great things for the Jamestown forest . . . . (C)utting me out is a mistake."

At its July 24 meeting, the council accepted Andres' resignation. They took no action regarding Largess.

The councilors also accepted the resignations of William Marsh

of the Town Buildings and Facilities Committee and Steve Ryba of the Conservation Commission. Marsh said he no longer had time for the committee because he has returned to fulltime work. He also reported that he "has lost interest due to ongoing delays . . . and the apparently endless battles" over the town highway barn. He was primarily interested in construction and not site evaluation, he said. He pointed out that he would be interested in the barn construction once a site was selected.

Ryba said parenting and career responsibilities were preventing him from carrying out his commission duties, including being a liaison to the Wildlife Committee. He would continue to assist with North Main Road cleanup activities, Earth Day events and other projects, he said.

Appointments

The council named Ginny Perry and Christopher Crawford to the Affordable Housing Committee, succeeding Carol Buglio and Katherine Maxwell. Christopher Lutyens, a lobsterman, was appointed to succeed Greg Murphy as representative of commercial interests on the Harbor Management Commission. The councilors reappointed Nancy Ventrone to the Jamestown Emergency Medical Services Compensation Committee and Daniel Shapiro to the Jamestown Fire Department Compensation Committee. Barbara Hamilton Porter was reappointed to the Tax Assessment Board of Review, and Paula Samos was named an alternate to the tax board.

The councilors said they hoped the two candidates not named to positions would consider applying for appointments to other panels.

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