Monday, May 18, 2009

Spare Us with the Term Limits Nonsense

The conversation regarding the replacement of several long-serving city board members by Mayor Esslinger -- at least at the NW forum -- has devolved into a discussion over term limits.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: talking about term limits is nothing more than a distraction designed to shift the focus of Esslinger's mayoral fail to what some people see as a flaw in the system. Instead of examining the crass and transparently political way in which Esslinger is currently embarrassing himself and the city, his supporters are running around yelling, "It's not Paul, it's the system that's flawed!"

But based on the information available online (which is absurdly difficult to put together, by the way), that's just not true.

Despite making some 42 appointments and reappointments, Esslinger may still have not filled at least 3 seats on various city boards. Those vacancies are on the Board of Appeals (one seat), the Parking Utility Commission (one seat), and at least one seat (maybe two) on the Committee on Aging.

Why aren't these seats being filled first? Why are other people being pushed to the side when there are still empty spots that need to be filled?

The easy answer is that "No one's applied for them," but that's not acceptable in our book. Instead of replacing a pair of board members with considerable experience in city government with two comparatively unseasoned new guys, Esslinger should have filled the empty slots by recruiting for them. There's no reason Monte could not have spent some time on the Board of Zoning Appeals (or another board) before moving to the Plan Commission when a space became available.

Which brings us back to the absurdity of discussing term limits when there are vacancies on municipal boards. Simply put, there is just not the demand to justify putting term limits on boards. If folks are so desperate to serve the city, they should start on a board with openings. It doesn't matter if you are qualified to discuss Parking Utility issues -- you'll learn ... or you won't, and that will speak to your qualifications to sit on another board.

Let's just call this what this is: a shamelessly blatant attempt to remake the municipal board in Esslinger's own image. Screaming all this nonsense about term limits is not going to change that.

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