Anne Fox, a member of the city Planning Commission for the last 5-1/2 years, was booted off the commission Tuesday night in a 3-2 vote of the City Council that instead agreed with Mayor Jennifer Hosterman's request to replace her with local businessman Jerry Pentin.
As a result of the action, Pentin will step down immediately as a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, where he also has served as chairman, and take his seat at the Planning Commission's next meeting after being formally sworn into office later this month. Pentin ran unsuccessfully for City Council in last November's municipal election, losing to incumbent council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan.
By city rules, the mayor recommends appointments to city commissions and committees with the full council then voting on those recommendations. Pentin's appointment was among 28 Hosterman made Tuesday, but the only one that brought objections.
Councilwoman Cindy McGovern praised Fox's long-time work on the Planning Commission, where Fox served first as an alternate starting Aug. 19, 2003, and winning a full appointment on Oct. 19, 2004.
Fox's first four-year term expired last Sept. 30, but, as customary, she remained a member of the commission until Hosterman completed her interviews of prospective candidates for all of the commission and commi8ttees and decided who she would recommend for reappointment or on new appointments. With an eight-year term limit on commission service, Fox could have been asked to serve another four years.
"I am not opposed to the person (Pentin) you are appointing, but I am disappointed with who you are not reappointing," McGovern said. "I feel Anne Fox has done good work on the Planning Commission and especially has done a memorable job of going back into the history of applications under consideration. In that respect, she has a gift that many of us don't have."
McGovern said in deciding not to reappoint Fox, Hosterman should have at least elevated long-time alternate Planning Commission member Greg O'Connor to the permanent seat on the commission.
"I think the Planning Commission appointments are becoming political, and this was a concern voters expressed to me in the last election," McGovern said.
Sullivan said six to eight of the people he had personally asked to apply for commission appointments were not considered. He accused Hosterman of using her position to appoint only individuals who share her views on public issues.
"I am concerned that we are losing diversity on our commissions," Sullivan said. "In the past, even mayors who were strongly aligned with different philosophies did a good job of appointing people who would engage the community at large with a diversity of opinions. That's not what's happening this time."
Sullivan said he asked Hosterman repeatedly to schedule interviews during the evening hours so that he wouldn't have to take time off work and when applicants for the commissions might be able to meet to discuss their qualifications. Even so, he said the interviews were conducted during the daytime, even for the city's new Energy and Environment Commission which he had championed for the last 10 years.
"We need to change the process and open this up a little bit and make it less unilateral and do a better job of representing the community at large on our commissions," he added.
Besides Hosterman, council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne voted to approve the commission and committee appointments, with McGovern and Sullivan voting no.
The Planning Commission advises the Council on land use matters including zoning issues, use permits, variances and site and architectural plans. The Commission reviews and makes recommendations regarding development plans submitted by the City's Planning Department, and is also responsible for annual General Plan and specific plan reviews.
In addition to O'Connor, who will complete his term as an alternate, Pentin will join current chairwoman Jennifer Pearce and regular members Arne Olson, Kathy Narum and Philip Blank on the Planning Commission. Blank was re-appointed Tuesday to a second four-year term, due to expire in 2013.
The Planning Commission meets at 7:00 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of each month in the City Council Chambers, 200 Old Bernal Avenue.
For a complete list of all city commission appointments, click here