MI Editors Note: Per charter, all commissions and committees must be created by ordinance. To be clear, a mayor can seek and take advice from anyone, be it an individual or a group of people. A mayor then could therefore form a group that advises him and him alone. The mayor can't form a Riverfront Advisory Task Force i.e. a Committee that has any real duties; only the Common Council can create such an entity. The mayor would then appoint its membership and the Council would then vote to confirm those appointments. Unless this process has been followed, this "task force" is worth little to nothing. Which raises the very same question about the "Mayor's Bi-partisan Task Force on Government Reorganization" or, as it has been referred-to, the "Blue-ribbon Commission."
My letter is in response to the article published by the Hartford Courant on January 2, 2013 announcing that Mayor Drew would put together a 7 member task force to make recommendations about River Front Zoning. The article is here:
The first time I had heard that the Mayor was considering such a committee was from this article. As a Planning and Zoning Commissioner, I should have been made aware of this by well before the announcement. By charter, there is already an existing Harbor Review Committee and the question as to why a second "task force" or essentially a committee is needed should be questioned.
Immediately after reading the Courant article, I submitted my name to the Mayor and asked to be considered for the committee as a representative from the P&Z Commission. I believe my training in architecture, planning, historic preservation, and sustainability could be useful.Because I work in the planning and architecture field for a living, I was volunteering my skills as a professional out of my dedication to Middletown. I only received an answer 3 days later ,after a second request, from the mayor's assistant that my request was received and being reviewed.
This was all ruse. The Mayor had already chosen the committee by the time the Courant published the article asking for volunteers.
The problem I have is not that I was not considered, it is more so none of my republican colleagues on P&Z, who have over 30 years combined experience on P&Z were not chosen - a wealth of knowledge that is being wasted. Equally as troubling is that the only minority representation on the whole 7 person committee is a single council member.
Furthermore, Mayor Drew neglected to choose to add the Harbor Master, any representatives from Harbor Improvement committee, Design Review and Historic Preservation, the Conservation Commission, and most importantly the public.
As commissioner, and a taxpaying citizen of Middletown, I am disappointed that the Mayor is once again playing politics when choosing committee members to make crucial decisions about Middletown.
When people go to the City of Middletown website, there is no indication of what committees are open. When I have asked the Council Clerk for a list of open committee seats, I have only been given the run around. I have asked to be apart of other committees, only to receive no answer to my request. Despite this Mayor's mandate for evening meetings, committees regularly meet during work day hours and not always at public locations. This is disturbing because the transparency of such committees is then an illusion because they are purposely inconvenient to the majority of full-time working citizens who are entitled to access to their government.
If this Mayor, and the Democratic majority keep choosing the same people to make decisions, and acquiesce to the same desires of those chosen, we as citizens will only be burdened with the same mediocre results that stagnate us as a community.
Molly Salafia, Assoc. AIA, LEED GA,
Middletown Citizen & also
P&Z Commissioner, (R)