Saturday, July 14, 2007

Do we have two City Councils?

First of all, I don't care what Darin Gerdes' religious or political affiliation may be.

I don't care if he's a fundamentalist Baptist, a Hindu or a Unitarian; a Rush Limbaugh conservative or a Michael Moore liberal. That's not the point. What bothers me is the manner in which he was recently appointed to the Lynchburg School Board by City Council.

I think it should be bother you, too.

Whatever their philosophies may be, the seven members of City Council were elected to work together for the good of the city.

That's not to say that they can't disagree on some matters. That's inevitable, and probably healthy. A council operating in total lockstep would be kind of scary.

But here's what apparently happened with the substitution of Gerdes for Tom Webb on the School Board. Council members Michael Gillette and Ceasor Johnson were out of town at the time the matter came up for a vote. Although two of the remaining five members wanted to delay the vote until a full council could be assembled, the other three overrode them, voted anyway, and appointed Gerdes.

Obviously, the business of council can't come to a screeching halt whenever someone is absent -- these are all busy people with other obligations, and that happens all the time.

In the case of the Gerdes appointment, though, it seems painfully transparent that the reason this was rushed through was because council members Jeff Helgeson, Joe Seiffert and Scott Garrett knew that their guy would not be confirmed by a vote of the full council.

Sure, this had been delayed once before, but what was the hurry? This was a School Board appointment, and this is July, when public school business essentially grinds to a halt.

I find it disturbing that the board has become so fragmented that one faction decided to act independently of other members. I would find it just as bothersome if Gillette, Johnson and Joan Foster had waited until Helgeson and Garrett left town to re-appoint Webb.

This episode also seems to speak to the communication (or lack of it) between board members. Wouldn't have been a good idea for Gillette and Johnson to ask the other members not to decide on this matter until they returned?

Oh, wait -- they did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems that the way this appointment happened does bother many people in Lynchburg but I guess that does not assure a reconsideration of the action. Suggestions range from "get over it" to "throw the bums out" with "Gerdes should resign" somewhere in the mix. The council implies that it is a done deal as they look to how they might change the rules to improve the process and avoid this in the future. I assume Mr. Webb has remained silent in spite of being besieged with requests from the local press for his comments!