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Council Set to Approve Final Guidelines for Appointed Bodies

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By Jorge Casuso

November 3, 2021 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a resolution that sets a nepotism policy for appointed bodies and dictates terms under which their members can serve.

The resolution's key provision, and the one that will have the biggest immediate impact, bars close family relatives of current Counciilmembbers from serving on City boards, commissions, committees and task forces.

The term "relative" covers "wife, husband, registered domestic partner, son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister of a Councilmember."

The resolution codifies a nepotism policy approved by the Council in July that bars existing board and commission members from serving ("Council Approves Nepotism Policy for Boards and Commissions," July 28, 2021).

Councilmember Phil Brock unsuccessfully pushed for allowing relatives who currently sit on Boards and Commissions to serve the remainder of their terms.

As drafted, the resolution would force Mayor Sue Himmelrich's husband, Michael Soloff, to resign from the Housing Commission he was was appointed to before she was first elected in 2014.

"We either believe in a nepotism policy or we don't," Councilmember Kristin McCowan said before the Council voted 6 to 0 for the policy. Himmelrich recused herself due to a conflict of interest.

The resolution also limits members of most appointed bodies to serving two consecutive terms with a few exceptions.

Under the proposed resolution, "a third consecutive term may be served if the member makes a written request" or is nominated by a Councilmember, both of which would require a two-thirds Council vote.

The resolution also limits the total number of members who can serve a third consecutive term at the same time to no more than one-third of the membership.

A two-thirds vote is needed for the Council to make exceptions for boards that require specific qualifications.

According to the draft resolution, a member who has served the maximum number of consecutive terms on a board, commission or committee cannot serve again "until four years after the member’s final term has expired."

Members, however, can serve on a different board if they wait at least one year "after terming out."

The resolution bars anyone from taking "any official action to recommend any specific appointees to the City Council," according to the proposed resolution.

Individual members can, however, make their own recommendations.

The resolution also sets an absentee policy for boards, commissions, committees and task forces that meet monthly.

Any member of those bodies who accumulates two unexcused absences over the course of six consecutive regular meetings "automatically vacates membership."

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