Washtenaw County Board Makes Appointments

Over 30 appointments to various county boards, committees and commissions were approved at the Dec. 4, 2013 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. [.pdf of appointments]

The board also appointed Evan Pratt, the county’s water resources commissioner, as director of public works, effective Jan. 1, 2014. While all other appointments were unanimous, the vote for Pratt’s appointment was 8-1 over dissent from Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5).

The current director of public works is Daniel R. Myers. According to a staff memo, the board of public works had raised a question about potential conflict-of-interest with this appointment. From the memo:

Since Evan is currently the elected Water Resources Commissioner for the County, the Board of Public Works wanted to assure themselves that it was not a conflict for the person serving as the Water Resources Commissioner to also be appointed the Director of Public Works. With the assistance of Corporation Counsel they researched this issue and it was determined that it would not be a conflict of interest. Additionally, the current organizational structure of Public Works places the Director under the management direction of the Water Resources Commissioner so there is already direct involvement in Director of Public Works activities. [.pdf of corporation counsel opinion]

Openings for most positions had been publicized in October and November. An appointments caucus was held on Nov. 21 to discuss the openings and applications. That caucus drew only two commissioners, however – board chair Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) and Conan Smith (D-District 9), who both represent districts in Ann Arbor.

The deadline had been extended until Dec. 1 for openings on three groups: the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA); the Washtenaw County historic district commission; and the Washtenaw County food policy council. As a result of the extension, additional positions were filled on the HDC (Alec Jerome) and the food policy council (Markell Miller and Caitlin Joseph).

An opening on the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission that results from the retirement this month of long-time commissioner Nelson Meade will not be immediately filled, to allow for the opening to be publicized.

Also, no appointment was made to the RTA. Richard Murphy – one of two RTA board members from Washtenaw County – is not seeking reappointment. During the Dec. 4 meeting, board chair Yousef Rabhi indicated that there’s some uncertainty about when Murphy’s term actually ends, and that needs to be sorted out with state and RTA officials. He plans to re-open the application process, with a new deadline to be determined.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor, where the board of commissioners holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]