By Adam Swift
Before stepping down from office to take the top post at the DCR, former Mayor Brian Arrigo forwarded about two dozen board and commission requests to the City Council.
At last week’s council meeting, Ward 3 Councillor Anthony Cogliandro, who chairs the appointments subcommittee, said that with rare exceptions, his committee will be tabling those requests until a new mayor is elected. He said the subcommittee will take up one request for a zoning board appointment, but otherwise, Cogliandro said it wouldn’t be proper for the council to take up appointments with no duly elected mayor in office.
However, Cogliandro clarified that anyone currently serving on a board or commission will continue to serve in their capacity, even if their term is up or they have been put up for reappointment. About 20 of the requests from Arrigo were for reappointments, while there were also two requests for new members to the Board of Health, one to the Licensing Commission, and one to the Conservation Commission, Cogliandro said.
“My intention is after the election to sit down with the mayor-elect and go through these and hopefully handle this business before the end of the year,” said Cogliandro.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky noted that the clock is ticking on the appointment requests. He stated that if the council does not take action in a proper time frame, the requests would fall victim to sine die at the end of the council term and be completely off the table.
“I don’t think putting people on from Mayor Arrigo is going to hurt any of the commissions and board,” said Novoselsky. “I think we should act on it, even way before the election.”
Cogliandro said it was a best practice for the city not to take up appointments from a mayor who is no longer in office. He said the requests could be kept on the table and the appointees could be brought up with the discretion of the mayor-elect at the end of the year.
Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino said he agreed it was in the best interest of the city not to act on the appointments at this time.
“He knew he was leaving and he made a bunch of appointments on the way out the door, which he could do, it was within his rights,” said Serino. “We are within our rights as a City Council if we want to take them up to take them up, but I would vote them all down, unless, like Councillor Cogliandro said, they were vitally needed for city business.”
Serino also claimed that at least one of the new appointments requested by the mayor for the Licensing Commission was a political appointment to remove long-serving commission member Linda Guinasso. He also noted that a number of appointments were for four- to six-year terms, meaning a new mayor would not have the opportunity to make his or her own appointments for boards or commissions.
“It’s kind of slimy and wrong,” said Serino. “The mayor quit with nine months left in his term, and now we’re left with an acting mayor. I think the appointments before us are null and void.”