Mayor Kitty Piercy has the authority and responsibility to appoint Council membership and liaison to the committees that provide valuable input not only on Council policy action, but in some cases policy recommendations that go much farther than the bounds of the Eugene City Council.
For instance, the MPC (Metropolitan Policy Committee), listed below, provides not only input but in some cases final authority on regional policy decisions, as in the case of recent LTD EmX land acquisition and construction support.
So the committee assignments are a split between those which are predominantly token in nature and those which bring about policy recommendations that affect the entire community.
Here is a copy of the memo sent to Council announcing the Mayor’s assignments (dated January 24):
I have most of the council assignments completed with very few changes from last year. I replaced myself on two committees with councilors: HSC and Police Commission. There is a new LCOG economic committee assignment that I’m asking Councilor Clark to fill.
Thank you all for your service on these committees in the year ahead. I’ll ask Beth to make sure you know when these committees are meeting.
Human Rights Commission Councilor Farr
Sustainability Commission Councilor Zelenka
IGR Councilors Poling, Clark and Taylor
Travel Lane County Councilor Poling
Lane Metro Partnership Councilor Farr
Housing Policy Board Councilor Pryor
Lane Workforce Partnership Councilor Taylor
LCOG Councilor Pryor
MPC Councilor Zelenka and Mayor Piercy
MWMC Councilor Brown
PSCC Councilor Ortiz
McKenzie Water Council Councilor Brown
Police Commission Councilor Clark, Councilor Ortiz
Human Services Commission Councilors Ortiz and Farr
LCOG Economic Committee Councilor Clark
LRAPA Councilor Ortiz
Public Safety Coord.Comm. Councilor Ortiz”
So what’s disappointing to me?
On January 14 I reported about the imbalance of citizen appointees to the committees. The Register-Guard followed that article with a concurring editorial of its own.
Clearly the imbalance stretches beyond citizen appointments. The Metropolitan Policy Committee conducts a wide range of business that is relevant to every jurisdiction in the county and beyond. The Eugene Council membership will be, as it has been, represented by Councilor Alan Zelenka and Mayor Kitty Piercy with Councilor Betty Tayor serving as alternate. You judge the balance.
On January 12 I sent a request to the Mayor asking to be assigned to the MPC
“I have submitted my board preferences to Beth.
I strongly want to be appointed to the Metropolitan Policy Committee. My years of service give me a deep background in issues and inter-government work. The current and immediate past membership from the City is imbalanced in its representation. I am not asking to be an alternate.
In addition to my past elective record, School Board, three-times elected to Council and my time in the State Legislature, I present a balance of land use and social issue views that would serve the City well in MPC deliberation.
Having served as the only Councilor to regularly attend Envision Eugene meetings and my service as ED for FFLC (FOOD for Lane County) I feel that I can represent our city and the council evenly and thoughtfully.
I understand that the representative is a council liaison and should only make votes supported by the council, but I’ve witnessed deliberation around the table and I believe that Eugene needs different representation.
The Mayor responded with a denial of my request, stating that she wanted to keep the committee assignment the same, based upon maintaining the current direction of the MPC, including:
“Councilor Zelenka also has key assignments. He has become one of the state leaders on green house gas reduction and the scenario planning that we are doing through our federal livability grant, ODOT’s scenario planning, and the state directives for green house gas reduction. So he too holds an important transportation policy role for our city on a number of fronts.”
Nobody can deny the significance of Zelenka’s work on greenhouse gas reduction and the City’s stated policy on the same. But I contend that work could continue without continued assignment to MPC, which covers much more than this single issue.
The cited emails are in the public record.
The Mayor has the authority to make the appointments, but also the responsibility to do so in a measured fashion. While MPC members are tasked to provide only the views and will of the government body they represent, obviously personal bias will always be present.
While I am pleased with the thought of my upcoming work on my assigned committees, I am disappointed with the continued assignment to MPC made by the Mayor.