Arguably, one of city council’s most difficult tasks must be the appointment of citizens to fill the positions that come available on McKinney’s many boards and commissions. (I’m glad I’m not sitting in any of their shoes on this one). While some of these boards make major decisions, such as to how funds are spent or, for example, which projects make it through the planning and zoning process, other boards and commissions are advisory only. Regardless, the individuals who sit on the various city boards and commissions can wield enormous influence on a wide range of issues that, in most cases, end up coming before the city council.
Our current council speaks about their efforts at transparency often, and, while some of you may disagree, I witness transparency in action routinely. I applaud that. But as I sat at Monday night’s meeting where appointments to boards and commissions were being made, I couldn’t help but think that the discussion surrounding the pros and cons of our citizens should not be held in public.
I’ve heard council members say that these appointments should be taken seriously and that the process is difficult, in part because every council member cannot possibly know each applicant personally. Therefore, council must rely on the recommendations of their peers who do have personal knowledge of an applicant, or on those council members who conducted the interview with an applicant.
Therein lies the problem. Council wants to give serious consideration to the appointment process, however, I submit that transparency, in this case, can be like a monster rearing its ugly head. How can any member of council openly, without reservation, discuss a citizen’s capabilities in public?
Oh, it’s all fine and good to gloss over the surface stuff – he’s realiable, doesn’t miss meetings, or she has a background in marketing and finanace, etc. No problem – great for public consumption, but what if there’s something a member of council knows about an applicant that he doesn’t want to bring up in public?
I don’t know about any of you, but if I were sitting in any of council’s shoes, I would want to know as much detail as possible about the applicants. I would also be reluctant to openly discuss negatives about individuals in a public forum. What if a certain character flaw (and, if I’m not mistaken, we all have at least one) – let’s just say anger issues for example – would make an individual a poor choice to serve on a particular board? Do we really want to have that hashed out (and recorded) in the public arena?
I know, I know. Some of you who are reading this are thinking what’s the big deal? Council should be able to find a way to discuss applicant’s qualifications without “airing dirty laundry.” Perhaps. But I was up for appointment this year. I applied to be reappointed to the Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. I gotta tell you, the feeling of being “discussed” in public was not one I relished. What could they say about me? When I make a commitment, I get things done, I’m dedicated, I’m well traveled and I have marketing experience. However, I was fixated on “what if council discusses my negatives?” OK, I confess, I’m outspoken, I’m impatient, sometimes controlling and need I say more?
I have to wonder, if the discussion of applicants was allowed to take place in executive session, would we have more people apply for these important, but often time-consuming and thankless positions? Would we have a more effective appointment process if private consideration took place? In other words, would volunteers be more likely to be placed on boards or commissions where they might be a better fit if things could be hashed out in private? Just a thought.
Council made the following appointments:
Animal Services Advisory Board:
Board of Adjustments
Brian Cobbel – Alternate
Shannon Mott – Alternate 1 year term
Anastasia Tutson – Full Term
Building & Standards:
Community Grants Advisory
Myra Cisneros Taylor
Historic Preservation Board:
Thomas Brad McKissick
Library Advisory Board:
McKinney Armed Services Memorial Board:
McKinney Arts Commission:
Sherry Tucker David
McKinney Community Development Corporation:
McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Tim Baker: Chamber Rep
McKinney Economic Development:
McKinney Housing Authority:
McKinney Housing Finance Corporation:
McKinney Main Street
Planning and Zoning Commission: