Just this year, a full list of boards and commissions was posted on the city’s web site, with rosters of membership. However, upcoming vacancies are not listed separately, meaning an interested citizen would have to scan through the rosters to see which terms are about to expire.
This is what the ordinance requires:
The City Clerk shall cause a register of appointed positions to City boards, commission or agencies to be prepared and maintained. Such register shall be made available on the City's website within a year after the enactment of this Article and at the City Hall within (30) days of enactment of this Article and shall set forth at least the following:
(a) Title of each appointed municipal position
(b) Brief description of the positions' powers and duties
(c) Any special credentials or qualifications required to hold the position
(d) The length of term for the position
(e) The name of the person currently holding the position, the expiration date of his or her term, and the number of vacant seats on the board or commission
(f) The dates/times and frequency of any meetings which the holder of the position must attend
At the Nov. 21 City Council meeting, Sandra Chambers was approved to serve as Alternate No. 2 on the Planning Board. In an interview preceding the vote, Chambers said she had been trying for a couple of years to get appointed to a board or commission. Although the resolution did not say who she is succeeding, the roster says Sidney Jackson last held the seat. Jackson has since been appointed to a four-year term.
The appointment process was not without its quirks. First of all, the term was listed on the resolution as ending on 12/31/2013, but Jackson’s alternate term was stated on the roster as 1/1/09 to 1/1/11. This business of 12/31 versus 1/1 is misleading. Terms end on Dec. 31 of the final year, so this one ended at the end of 2010. Therefore, Chambers should have received an unexpired term to 12/31/2012.
In addition, for some reason Councilman William Reid said to Chambers, “We hope you can assist the city in solving juvenile problems we have in the city.”
Chambers responded by talking about a PAL program she would like to see revived, and Councilwoman Vera Greaves said, “I’m happy to know she is interested in working with the youth. I think she will be an asset to the Planning Board.”
Lovely, except being involved in youth activities is not among the duties of a Planning Board member.
There are two other Planning Board terms about to expire on Dec. 31 (or 1/1/2012, as the roster has it). Members sitting in those seats should notify the mayor and clerk if they want to be reappointed. Others interested in the seats should fill out the downloadable application form on the city web site and submit it to the mayor and clerk (keep a copy).
According to other lists, there are three terms about to expire on the Historic Preservation Commission and one full and one alternate term expiring on the Board of Adjustment.
Some boards and commissions on the list have many vacancies, because they are defunct but have never been dissolved. The Environmental Commission may sound interesting, but no members have ever been appointed since its establishment in 2001.
So these are some of the pitfalls of getting involved: Making sure you are applying for a seat that really exists, competing with sitting members who want to re-up and getting through a council interview that may take some strange twists. Some applicants have reported that their information got lost and they had to resubmit several times.
But persevere and if you are selected, you will be rewarded with both an interesting experience and the knowledge that you are contributing to the progress of government.