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Council Revises Guidelines for Panels : Government: Citizen complaints prompt lawmakers to adopt procedures aimed at opening up the nomination process for city's boards.


GLENDALE — After repeated complaints from some City Hall critics that appointments to Glendale's 16 advisory commissions and boards is a closed procedure, the City Council on Tuesday adopted a six-step procedure to open up the nomination process.

Effective immediately, the city will advertise appointed positions as they open, call for volunteers to serve in the positions, which are unpaid, and establish a two-member panel of City Council members to interview candidates and recommend a nomination.

The names of candidates will be posted at City Hall for two weeks, during which members of the public can submit written comments in support or opposition to the qualifications of potential appointees.

In the past, council members were free to nominate candidates at random for vacancies, and nominees generally were named and immediately approved at a single council meeting.

Several critics, including Ritchie Payne, a Glendale resident who regularly attends council meetings, criticized the old procedure as "a political game in which you are hiding the ball."

During a sometimes heated argument Tuesday with Mayor Larry Zarian, Payne also objected to the new rules, saying the procedure still calls for the nomination and immediate approval of a candidate at a single council meeting.

"You are allowing only the very narrowest window for that candidate to be examined," Payne said.

However, Zarian called the new procedures, approved unanimously, a "total change, a major change."

About 60 volunteers serve on the city's boards and commissions, generally serving terms of three or four years.

All of the boards, with the exception of the Civil Service Commission, play an advisory role to the City Council, which is charged with making the final decision on issues. Decisions by the Civil Service Commission, which can act behind closed doors on personnel matters, can ultimately be challenged in the courts.

Civic activists often vie for positions on the commissions before seeking election to the City Council. Appointments are generally based on the qualifications of candidates who have expertise in a specific area, such as land use planning or architectural design--issues pertinent, for example, to the Planning Commission or Design Review boards.

The city for years has maintained a list of potential appointees who submit their names and usually a resume of qualifications to the city clerk's office. That list will now be purged every two years in order to keep names of candidates current, said City Manager David Ramsay, who proposed the new rules.

Paul Novak, 29, a land-use consultant who volunteered about a month ago as a candidate for the Planning, Zoning, Parks and Recreation commissions, said he has lived in the city for more than four years and feels "an obligation to help the city out. I have the expertise to serve on a commission. This will be my chance to give something back to the city."

Carlene Walton, a 30-year community volunteer, whose husband, architect Charles Walton, is completing his fourth term on a design review board, said she applied for appointment to the Building and Civil Service commissions because she has time now to serve the city.

"My kids are grown now, and I would like to do something," she said.

The city has vacancies on five boards to be filled within the next few weeks under the new policy.

Candidates are being sought for the Beautification Advisory Council; Historic Preservation Commission; Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, Building Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

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