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City Council, November 10

Shaping the process to appoint Board and Commission members
Bike hire contract signed
Marc Knapp

In deference to Council members and others doing their own thing on Election Day, the normal Tuesday Council meeting was held last night instead. Maybe it was the shock of the election result, or simply the emptiness of the agenda, the meeting lacked energy though not of enthusiasm. Council members unanimously supported the reappointment of Leonard Krawcheck to the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Bike Share Contract.

There was a long discussion at the beginning of the Council meeting over the appointment of members to City Boards and Commissions. It all started when the Mayor indicated that there were 8 applications for positions on the Tourism Commission. The names and information on the applicants would be sent to Council members for voting at the next meeting. The Mayor also spoke of the greater transparency of the appointment process and the ability of citizens to apply for Board and Commission positions on line.

We support the Mayor in his efforts to widen the opportunities for citizen participation. And we think all Council members do too. But they were not making the path easy. Council member Gregorie asked that when the Mayor sent out the names, could there be a ”cheat sheet” setting out the particulars of the candidates? Then other Council members made requests. They wanted information as to the requirements of the Boards – do they require certain professionals like accountants, architects – and what are the terms the appointees are serving?

Mayor Tecklenberg agreed or seemed to agree with all these requests though we suspect he thought as to why he had to spoon feed all these members. He said a number of times that the information that Council members sought was on the City’s website. He also called on City Attorney Cantwell to explain the unusual terms of appointees. She said the City was attempting to introduce some order in term limits so that each year there would be no bunching or appointments, or a host of vacancies as in the past. Appointments in the immediate future would be for varying terms - one to three years - leading ultimately to a single term limit and the retirement and appointments of only a few members each year.

Following the discussion on Board and Commissions, Council unanimously appointed Leonard Krawcheck to the Board of Zoning Appeals – Zoning. Mr. Krawcheck has served on this Board for some 30 years and is presently the Chair. As Council members noted last night, he is the longest serving citizen on the City’s boards. He has served extremely well and his wisdom and efforts were strongly applauded.
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The other item strongly supported was the Bike Share Contract. There was no information about the contract in the material available to the public. But from the discussion last night, a local company, The Gotcha Group, will establish a bike hire service. Citizens and others will be able to rent bikes from 7 stations in the City. Rates would be levied on the time period over which the bikes would be used but for the citizens of the City, there would be a special annual rate.

The bikes will be assembled by the firm and each will have an attached chip which will enable the company to locate their whereabouts at any time by GPS. Charges will accrue when the bike is taken out of any of the 7 planned stations and end when it is returned to any of the 7 stations. These stations will not be fixed but mobile.

Mayor Tecklenberg noted that the service will cost the City nothing. Staff also noted that the tracking of the bikes will enable the City to better plan bike routes for the future.

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