Newport Beach City Council appointed nearly a dozen residents to various city commissions and boards this week.
The most interesting appointment was on the City Arts Commission, as Council members unanimously decided to waive the two-term limit and re-appoint Arlene Greer for a third term.
Councilwoman Joy Brenner, who served on the interviewing committee, said because other arts commissioners requested Greer’s term be extended and because of her expertise in the area, they suggested the unusual third term.
“Under perfect circumstances, no we would not give her a third term, but because we’re really looking for expertise in this area, I think that’s the reason that our interview committee decided to recommend (a third term),” Brenner said.
It’s a little different this time, but there are reasons for that, she added.
It’s imperative that they get people on the boards and commissions that have the proper qualifications, experience and the expertise, so they can make recommendations to the Council that they can trust, Brenner commented.
Greer asked for one additional year, rather than the full four-year term, Brenner confirmed.
City watchdog Jim Mosher commented that the term limits are meant to encourage turnover so those applying have a realistic chance of being appointed.
He “strongly” objected to Greer’s third term, which is “totally contrary” to the message they want to send to public.
Ultimately, Greer was unanimously selected to serve a third term on the Commission.
There was one open seat on the City Arts Commission. Maureen Flanagan was the only other candidate who applied for the seat.
Council members also voted on appointments to a handful of other commissions and boards.
They unanimously selected Marie Marston for the Harbor Commission. She will serve until 2023. Votes for the second open Harbor seat, which lasts until 2021, were split 4-3, in favor of Steve Scully over Renee West.
Planning Commission’s two open spots went to Sara Klaustermeier, who received all seven Council votes, and Mark Rosene, who received four votes over three for the third candidate, Alex Chazen.
The two vacancies on the Board of Library Trustees were filled by incumbent Janet Ray and Barbara Glabman, who is currently serving on City Arts Commission and must resign before switching.
The two vacancies on the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission went to incumbent Laird Hayes, who was unanimously re-appointed, and newcomer Kate Malouf, who received six votes.
Incumbent Robert Ahlke was re-appointed to the Building and Fire Board of Appeals
The single opening on the Civil Service Board unanimously went to the only applicant, Maiqual “Mike” Talbot.
Nominees were confirmed by the City Council at the June 11 meeting and were selected from applications received and on file in the city clerk’s office.
All new terms will be effective on July 1, with an expiration date of June 30, 2023, except for the unscheduled vacancy on the Harbor Commission which will expire on June 30, 2021, and will be eligible to reapply for their respective seat to serve for a full four-year term.
Mosher also pointed out the low number of applicants.
“This agenda item highlights a problem we have in our city with this appointment process,” he said during public comment.
Council members only have three choices to fill two vacancies on both of the highest-profile commissions, Planning and Harbor, when they should have four (two choices for each vacancy), Mosher said.
They had trouble finding qualified candidates for these positions, according to a previous staff report.
“I think that is a problem and I think there is a simple solution,” Mosher noted.
Some people keep trying for years and their applications disappear from the clerk’s file. Mosher suggested that the clerk keep all applications until the person confirms they are absolutely not interested anymore.
That would provide a larger field of candidates for the Council members to choose from.
Brenner and other Council members agreed with the idea to not “sundown” the applications.
There should be more candidates and they want to encourage residents to apply, Mayor Diane Dixon noted, but if qualified people with the necessary expertise aren’t applying, and, on top of that, there aren’t enough positions, it can be quite a challenge.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Dixon said.
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