Assembly advances fix for appointments
The Haines Borough Assembly last week introduced an ordinance that would require a simple majority vote of remaining members to fill assembly vacancies, a move aimed at easing gridlock.
The borough’s government affairs and services committee of assembly members Daymond Hoffman, Debra Schnabel and committee chair Steve Vick recommended the change.
Last June, the assembly failed to appoint a replacement for a seat vacated by Greg Goodman, violating a requirement for vacancies to be filled within 30 days. The decision was left to voters in the October municipal election, and that ballot included a recall campaign in response to the code violation.
Assembly members in their strategic plan listed revising appointment procedures for vacancies as one of eight goals for 2012-13. Appointees serve until the next regular election.
The ordinance introduced last week eliminates the benchmark of at least four votes from the assembly to fill a vacancy. “If a vacancy occurs in the assembly, the assembly by roll call vote of a majority of its remaining members shall, within 30 days, appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy.”
Assemblyman Steve Vick suggested adding the language that specifies a roll call vote.
“It just clarifies the voting procedure,” he said. “If by roll call – not by ballot, not by raise of hand – it makes a little more formality.”
Member Debra Schnabel voted against the amendment.
“I am astounded that this assembly wants to have roll call votes for seating a vacancy,” she said. “Sometimes those votes go through the procedure (for) five, six, seven votes, and I think it’s hard enough, sometimes, to work through making those kinds of judgment calls on our fellow citizens for appointments, but to have the added pressure of it being a roll call vote, I just find stressful.”
Roll call votes, used for spending decisions and other matters of importance, involve recording each assembly member’s vote. Such votes are tallied one at a time. Hand votes are used informally, typically without a public recitation of how each member voted.
Schnabel voiced support for the overall ordinance. “I really think that we have fixed the problem.”
The ordinance’s first public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8.