VENICE — With nine applicants for Venice’s seven-member charter review committee, the simple thing, council member Mitzie Fiedler said on Tuesday, would be to appoint them all and let two people serve as alternates.
It turned out not to be that simple.
Vice Mayor Rich Cautero said agreed with her in principal but “I don’t know who they are,” because the names hadn’t been released.
The item the Council needed to vote on Tuesday was how to appoint the committee members, not whom to appoint, City Attorney Kelly Fernandez said.
The resolution that created the committee had provided that each council member would appoint one member and made no provision for alternates.
In a subsequent discussion, the City Council voted to use the ranking process it adopted for advisory board appointments but it hadn’t revised the resolution to that effect.
Confusion about the process might have discouraged some people from applying, Cautero said.
Another complication arose when city clerk Lori Stelzer informed the Council that only eight of the nine applications had been received by the May 17 deadline and that another one had been submitted Monday.
Council member Brian Kelly said he knew of someone who was unable to apply on time but was still planning to do so.
Mayor Ron Feinsod proposed extending the application period to get a broader cross-section of candidates.
Mentioning attorney Jeff Boone, who frequently represents clients before the council regarding land-use matters, he said that people who have previous city board experience could have preconceived ideas about charter changes.
Boone chaired the city’s most recent charter review committee, about 10 years ago, and was a member of the planning commission for years.
“I think the public deserves more input on this,” Feinsod said.
Cautero spoke in favor of an extension, but a brief one — a week or two.
“Time, to me, is less important than the perception of transparency and fairness,” he said.
Several of his colleagues, however, said the process had been and would remain transparent and open to everyone, and that it needed to get going for any proposed charter amendments to make it to the November 2022 ballot.
“We thought we were already going to get this work started, and it’s not,” Fiedler said.
Council member Nick Pachota, who had suggested convening a charter review committee to vet changes the Council had some up with, said that delay was “what we were afraid of from the get-go — we’re just going to drag this thing out.”
Noting that forming the committee had been discussed several times and advertised, council member Helen Moore was more blunt.
“Things have to be done on a deadline,” she said. “This isn’t day care.”
In the end she went along with the other six members to form a consensus that the application deadline would be extended until noon on Friday.
The resolution changing the appointment process to the advisory board ranking system passed 7-0.