The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 20, 2013

Appointment process realigning

By Katie Dahlstrom Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — City officials want to update the way Clinton residents are recruited to serve on the city's boards and commissions and streamline the process for their appointments.

Several citizen boards and commissions, such as the Airport Commission, the Civil Service Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission operate under the city umbrella. Residents are appointed by the Advisory Appointments Committee to serve on the boards for terms ranging from two years to six years depending on the position.

After reviewing the guidelines for the various boards and commissions, members of the Internal Operations Committee on Tuesday decided the guidelines needed to be updated as well as the recruiting practices.

Committee members said, in particular, a state requirement that deals in board and commissions members' gender should be addressed when updating the guidelines.

According to Iowa Code, boards, commissions, committees and councils shall be gendered balanced, meaning no more than half of the members can be of one gender.

The code states that an exception can be made if the board has made a "good faith" effort to appoint someone for three months, but has been unable to find someone who would bring the board into compliance with the gender balance.

"By code, we're supposed to be working towards a gender balance on these boards and commissions and we should be doing a better job of it," At-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf said. "We also need to do a better job of our recruitment and advertising as well."

Graf also suggested training the people who fill the 100-plus positions on the boards and commissions.

"There is clearly background information that they need to have in order to be successful in their positions. Some people get on these commissions and don't have a clue what they're supposed to do," Graf said.

The Advisory Appointments Committee recently submitted recommendations to reappoint 15 people and fill vacancies on boards and commissions, but the council has yet to approve the recommendations. The delay in appointments has caused some strife for the boards that wait to have a full roster.

Les Shields, who is on the list to be reappointed to the Airport Commission, asked committee members if the council could approve some of the appointments for boards he called "critical" to the entity they represent, such as the airport and the library.

"To hold up everyone's appointment because of gender balance issues or expired terms or lack of advertising for different people, it's creating some issues in those critical boards and commissions," Shields said.

Committee members agreed to break out the boards and commissions that have an immediate need for approval while city staff improves the appointment process.

Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman added that as the city updates the guidelines, it should keep a provision in mind that would prevent appointment delays in the future.

"We need to update this information and then we have to have a policy that says when a mayor makes an assignment, that the council approves them or has an issue with it, they settle it then," Gassman said.