The Prairie Village City Council made something of an about face Monday, pushing through the appointments of 18 volunteer committee members whose nominations it had tabled just two weeks ago.
The controversy over Mayor Ron Shaffer’s committee appointments began when Councilor Ashely Weaver made a move at the council’s April 21 meeting to hold up the reappointment of Planning Commission members Nancy Wallerstein and Bob Lindeblad — both of whom voted in favor of the Mission Chateau project. At the end of that meeting, the council appeared to have settled on holding up the confirmation of all 20 Shaffer’s appointments to city committees until the governing body and its “working group on committees” had reviewed all of the applications received for volunteer positions. (All of the currently serving members of city committees were expected to continue serving until the council’s working group had finished its review).
But several of the councilors appear to have second-guessed the outcome of the April 21 debate, and voted 9-3 Monday to affirm all of Shaffer’s appointments except Wallerstein and Lindeblad.
Ward 6 councilor Ted Odell was the one to resuscitate discussion on the issue Monday. He told his peers that the response he had heard to the council’s move to hold up appointments to bodies like the Tree Board, Sister City Committee and Environment/Recycling Committee had generally not been positive.
“I’ve heard a lot of response — kind of negative responses — about leaving these people in limbo,” he said. “It’s not fair to hold these people out when they could serve on these committees.”
The move clearly irked Shaffer, who asked why — after the council had made such an issue of reviewing all applications for volunteer committee appointments — it was suddenly advisable to push through the nominations as they stood.
“The damage has already been done,” he said.
Odell received push back from fellow councilors Eric Mikkelson and Courtney McFadden, who said they couldn’t understand why the council wouldn’t wait until the working group on committees had made its recommendations about a process for appointments moving forward.
“If there was urgent damage or harm out there, I’d be all for it,” he said. “But the people currently on these committees are going to continue on the committees. So in the absence of any harm or damage, why don’t we wait until the working group has finished its work?”
McFadden said she thought it was incongruous to keep the appointments of the people who would serve on the most powerful committee, the Planning Commission, up in the air.
“The Planning Commission is the one that makes the most important decisions, and that’s the one you’re going to keep in limbo?” she asked.
McFadden, Mikkelson and Ward 2 councilor Steve Noll voted against the measure.