The Ann Arbor city council’s Dec. 19, 2011 meeting agenda, published online on Dec. 14, includes a resolution that expresses opposition to mayoral nominations of city of Ann Arbor employees to serve on boards and commissions. The resolution is sponsored by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2).
The “resolved” clause, as it currently appears on the agenda, simply records the view that those voting in the affirmative are opposed to such appointments: “RESOLVED, Those council members voting in the affirmative to this resolution oppose Mayoral nominations of City of Ann Arbor employees to office appointments.”
Update: As of Friday, Dec. 16, the resolved clause has been revised to read: “Therefore be it resolved, That Council opposes Mayoral nominations of City of Ann Arbor employees to office appointments.” Sabra Briere (Ward 1) has also been added as a fourth sponsor.
Reasons cited in the “whereas” clauses include the possible appearance of conflicting interests and commitments, as well as a clause in the city charter that might be construed as limiting the rights of city employees who are appointed to boards or commissions: “The personnel of the City, other than the elective and appointive officers, shall be deemed City employees.” [.pdf of resolution on mayoral nominations of city employees to boards and commissions]
The resolution comes in the context of mayor John Hieftje’s nomination at the council’s last meeting (on Dec. 5, 2011) of a city employee to serve on a board. Hieftje nominated the city’s transportation program manager, Eli Cooper, to serve on the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. On confirmation by the city council, Cooper would fill the vacancy on the AATA board left by another city employee, Sue McCormick.
The council will be asked to vote to confirm Cooper’s nomination at its Dec. 19 meeting.
McCormick is leaving her post at the city of Ann Arbor as public services area administrator to take a job as head of the Detroit water and sewerage department. McCormick’s last day on the job is Dec. 16. City administrator Steve Powers announced at the Dec. 5 meeting that the city’s head of systems planning, Craig Hupy, will fill in for McCormick on an interim basis. Powers reported that Hupy had no interest in the permanent position.
Cooper’s city position as transportation program manager falls under the city’s systems planning unit. The council previously appointed Cooper to serve on the AATA board on June 20, 2005. He served through June 2008, and was replaced on the board by current board chair Jesse Bernstein.
When Cooper previously served on the AATA board, along with McCormick, their service prompted an op-ed in The Ann Arbor News criticizing the appointment of city employees to citizen boards. [.pdf of "Let's Stick With Autonomous Appointees for Citizen Boards"]