Wednesday, August 03, 2011

August 3, 2011 Mayor Nominates Glenn Thompson for Morristown Utility Commission Seat: Council Takes No Action

At yesterday's city council meeting, Mayor Danny Thomas submitted his nomination of Glenn Thompson to the Morristown Utility Commission Board to the City Council.

Thompson is a local CPA with the firm of Craine, Thompson & Jones.

Thomas asked for a motion to approve the nomination. There was none.

Thomas asked for a motion to disapprove the nomination. There was none.

At the previous meeting of council on July 19, Thomas had nominated Mike Minnich for this same position. While no motion was made, a vote on Minnich was taken and resulted in 3 FOR (Brooks, Jinks, and Thomas); 3 AGAINST (Garrett, LeBel, Senter); and 1 ABSTENTION (Bivens). Click here for the video of the vote.

The nomination by the Mayor is for the seat currently held by George McGuffin in what has turned out to be something akin to a lifetime appointment. McGuffin has been on the Board for over 30 years.

Just prior to the meeting, Attorney Ron Perkins, standing in for City Attorney Dick Jessee, provided the Council with a summary of the procedures for filling the position as outlined in the Private Act that established the Morristown Utility Commission. [Dick Jessee is the brother-in-law of George McGuffin.]

The important parts of the summary at this point:

A) The Mayor selects his nominee for the Morristown Utility Commission (MUC) from a list of three names provided to him by MUC. A majority vote of Council is required to elect the Mayor's nominee. Should Council fail to approve or disapprove a nominee within 30 days following notice to Council of the Mayor's nomination, the nominee is deemed to have been elected.

B) If a nominee is disapproved by Council or fails to receive a vote of approval by a majority of Council, the nomination procedure is repeated, except the Commission has 14 days from notice of the disapproval to submit the names of three more nominees--which list may include the two not previously selected by the Mayor.

There were numerous discussions taking place after the meeting regarding the effect of the lack of a vote on Thompson's nomination.

[Former Councilmember Frank McGuffin, son of George McGuffin, came to yesterday's meeting. Frank was also at the last meeting along with his father George and McGuffin supporters.]

You can bet there will again be visits and phone calls to the Mayor and councilmembers during the next two weeks--just like there were in the lead-up to the meeting on the Minnich appointment and in the lead-up to yesterday's meeting on the Thompson appointment.

This time the situation is clearer. 

If the Council continues to take no action to approve or disapprove Thompson, he will be deemed elected after 30 days. If Garrett, LeBel, and Senter want to continue to keep anyone else from ever taking the "McGuffin" seat, then they will have to take timely action to get a vote that gets Thompson out of the picture.

In one of the post-meeting discussions with other councilmembers and Attorney Ron Perkins, Kay Senter said she hoped there would be a consensus by the time of the next vote since, in her opinion, no one would want to take a position by "default," i.e. without a vote.

The Mayor has made the nomination. The election by "default" that Kay spoke of only comes about if Council fails to vote the nominee up or down within 30 days.

The ball is in the Council's court, but there are plenty of powerful coaches out there.

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