As many of you know too much of government happens hidden from public view. One of those items came out today and was already approved by the Rochester City Council before you ever heard of it.
Today we received notice that we were supposed to appoint 14 members to the “heart of the city” task force. The 14 were selected out of 95 applicants, most highly qualified. Some good news, the appointees are far more racially and generationally diverse than most of our boards. Now the bad: Once again women are horribly underrepresented on a civic board despite some incredibly talented people applying. In fact the woman behind the highly successful midtown conversations was not even appointed.
In the end I was OK with 13 of the 14 members appointed. I however took exception to the Mayor and Council appointing a paid lobbyist that actively lobbies the City Council on Development Issues to this task force that will set development policy. This probably isn’t illegal, it may be ethical, but anyone possessing common sense knows this is wrong.
As such I filed an official question, not a complaint, with the Ethical Practices Board, here is the text of that question:
Should a person who is paid to lobby the city of Rochester on policy by a private organization (as their primary occupation), be appointed by the city council to serve on public boards steering public policy or directing public investment?
It is important to realize that the board the person in question was appointed to deals with the specific policies that the person is paid to advocate on. Oh by the way, this was all done out of site from the public at the last minute. The information was not even in our council packet for this week. No one else from the council raised the issue, President Staver saw no issue at all and defended the appointment. Nick Campion did abstain from the vote.
Edit, here is some technical guidance:
A member of a city commission shall not “Represent private interests before the Common Council or any City committee”. City Ordinance ch. 13, subdiv. 2(E).
Those that pay your salary get their interests first…
I still believe cronyism is bad and integrity is important. This failed on both accounts.