By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
So here we are one year later and the council is still tying itself up in knots over who they want to be (and who they don’t want to be) on the Planning Board.
Officially, Tuesday night’s vote to table appointments of Richard Dimes and Allan Maruzzi came down to two issues. The first is that neither man was in attendance and the second is that neither had been before the Council’s Appointments Committee –itself a manifestation of Councilors’ dissatisfaction with the way appointments are made.
But let’s forget about the Appointments Committee for just a minute.
The fact is that the reason for the testy 5-4 vote to table is that some councilors simply don’t want to vote for Richard Dimes to be on the Planning Board.
Several have said, off the record, that it is simply time for a change. Others have said, also off the record, that they don’t agree with his stances on recent development issues, such as the Atlantis Marina project, Crystal Cove, and Winthrop Hospital.
Sure, all the councilors are trying to show deference to Dimes, who has served the town in various capacities for more than 40 years, but at the same time it is that long record of service, that has caused at least some of the councilors to come to the conclusion that the town would best be served by having someone else on the board.
The problem, for them, is that they can’t do anything about it. The town charter, as adopted by voters, puts all the power for making appointments in the hands of the Council President – Thomas Reilly.
And Reilly is sticking by his long time friend Dimes.
There are arguments to be made on both sides of this issue and we’re not going to sit here and tell anyone that one side is right and the other is wrong.
Like it or not, there is a change element on the Town Council and there is also an element that is more moderated and less willing to change, especially if they see the change as being for changes’ sake.
However, we do believe that while the letter of the Charter gives the power for appointments to the Council President, we also see it as a usurpation of the Council’s power to concur, every time Reilly attempts to appoint a man he knows does not have the support of the full council.
In fact, the only reason that Dimes is on the Planning Board now, is because Charter allows the sitting member of a committee to continue until a replacement is chosen. And, we suspect that if Reilly is unsuccessful in winning confirmation for Dimes on May 15, he will again choose not to make another appointment to the board.
It also puts the council in the position of having to publicly reject a candidate they are not comfortable with and that, we do not believe is in the spirit of the charter. If the charter did not intend for the Council to have a voice in making appointments to the Planning Board, it would not have required a vote of the Council to make the appointment official.
Furthermore, Reilly’s appointment of Dimes has the net result of embarrassing a man who does not deserve it.
It is our hope that some workable solution to this impasse is found, before Dimes’ appointment comes before the full council again. One that meets both the letter and the spirit of the charter.
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