Springfield city councilors raise concerns about vacancies on boards, commissions (MassLive)

Read the original article by Pete Goonan here.

SPRINGFIELD -- Two city councilors have raised concerns about vacancies on various city boards and commissions and have filed a resolution that urges the mayor to fill the openings and to activate some long-dormant commissions.

The non-binding resolution, sponsored by Councilors Jesse Lederman and Tracye Whitfield, will be considered by the full City Council at its next meeting Monday night at 7 at City Hall.

"Local government works when we make it work," Lederman said in a prepared statement. "Boards and commissions serve important roles in decision-making, and also in providing input and bringing forward proposals to benefit our city. We should make every effort to provide opportunities for residents to serve."

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno is responsible for appointing members to many volunteer boards and commissions, some subject to council confirmation. There are many volunteer municipal boards including the Historical Commission, the Board of Appeals, the Council on Aging and the Commission on Disability.

Whitfield said that ensuring boards and commissions are fully appointed "will provide an opportunity for residents to be involved in government."

"Such involvement will also ensure that there is diversity in government, especially when it comes to women and minorities," Whitfield said.

Whitfield added that she has communicated with the mayor about the vacancies "and we're working together to ensure the public knows the process."

On Nov. 19, the council confirmed two Sarno-appointed members to the Historical Commission -- Bryan James, of St. James Avenue, and David Finn, of Atwater Terrace.

At the meeting, they were told that the commission had failed to have quorums at two consecutive meetings before the appointments. Some items on the agendas passed by default due to missed deadlines for a vote, Lederman said.

Councilors strongly praised both new appointments by Sarno, and approved them by unanimous votes.

Sarno said Thursday that he appreciates the council vote on the two Historical Commission appointments.

"My administration continues to review and fill our boards and commissions - a couple of which that require City Council confirmation too," Sarno said.

The councilors also raised concerns that the Youth Commission, the Ethics Commission and the Residency Compliance Commission, all created by city ordinance, have been labeled "inactive" due to unfilled positions.

The resolution also asks that a list of vacant seats on boards and commissions be placed on the website of the City Clerk, along with information on the appointing authority to encourage new applicants.

In addition, the resolution calls for the council to review and fill any vacancies that fall under its own appointment powers in the coming year.

The resolution states that Springfield "is home to many qualified and active residents who would appreciate the opportunity to serve their city in this volunteer capacity and whose insight and expertise would be welcome in local government."

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