Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20, 2012 FIFTEENTH Morristown Utilities Commission Appointment on City Council Agenda

The Morristown City Council has the Mayor's fifteenth appointment to the Morristown Utilities Commission on its agenda today. MUC has vetted and submitted the names of three qualified people to the Mayor: Jo Ervin, John Hodge, and George McGuffin. 

Unfortunately, five members of council have created appointment gridlock for 8-9 months by serially rejecting every one of the Mayor's fourteen appointments to the MUC Board. 

The LeBel Five are Paul LeBel, Kay Senter, Bob Garrett, Claude Jinks, and Chris Bivens.

In November 2011, the five ran to Sen. Steve Southerland and Rep. Don Miller to get the state to pass a change to the appointment process and send it back to the Council so the Five can pass the "McGuffin Law" and continue McGuffin's lifetime appointment- 5 years at a time.

Since MUC controls who can be considered for appointment to the MUC Board, it is pretty much a closed group that perpetuates itself and its members unless something unusual happens such as when Herbert Bacon left the Board when it was found that he was ineligible to serve.

MUC has been strangely quiet about the rejection of the FOURTEEN people that MUC has submitted to the Mayor. 

There are several facts about the MUC appointment process that the "news"paper hasn't mentioned during the recent controversy.
1. MUC presented and pushed for the current appointment process in 2001 as part of a package of changes to the MUC Private Act.
2. Council debated the appointment process at length. An amendment was proposed but did not pass. Council finally voted unanimously on February 6, 2001, for a resolution sending the MUC changes, including the current appointment process, to the state legislature.
3. The state legislature passed the changes and sent them back for approval, as requested, as one question on the May 1, 2001, referendum.
4. Council's 2001 resolution stated that the result of that May 2001 election "shall prevail over any approval or disapproval by action of City Council."
5. MUC used ratepayer dollars (apparently illegally) for paid political ads and political signs in 2001 asking voters to vote FOR the changes to the MUC Private Act, including the current appointment process
6. MUC, in its paid political ads, called the proposed appointment process "an open process for selection of Board members." (Open? To whom? Not the 14 rejectees!)
7. The package of MUC changes, including the current appointment process, passed overwhelmingly (72% FOR) in the 2001 referendum
8. Two council members (Kay Senter and Claude Jinks) who voted FOR the resolution on all MUC changes in 2001 have now joined with Paul LeBel, Chris Bivens, andj Bob Garrett, to change the appointment process that was a part of the 2001 MUC Question that was approved by 72% of the voters.

Why does the council oppose a referendum in 2012?

Why did Sen. Southerland rewrite the appointment process--presumably to make it better--and then fail to vote for it?

Why is Rep. Miller adamantly opposed to letting the voters decide if they approve of the changes he and Sen. Southerland have made to the appointment process that was already voted on in 2001?

Why were the voters asked to vote on the appointment process in 2001 but are shut out in 2012?

Why hasn't the paper reported that a referendum on approval of the McGuffin Law could take place on August 2 at a cost of only $250?

That's some of the "rest of the story."

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