This morning the Legislative and Nominating (“L&N”) Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the city council that term limits for members of the Harbor Commission be eliminated. The issue was introduced by Councilor and Committee member Jill Duson at the April 9, 2018 Committee meeting. At that time, Duson said that an unidentified person had asked that the L&N Committee consider the change that would have to be made to the city ordinance.
Representing the Harbor Commission today was Dan Haley, a member of the Commission, a resident of Munjoy Hill, a retired insurance executive and an advisor to Governor Paul LePage on Veterans’ Affairs. The city of Portland appoints two (2) members, the city of South Portland appoints two (2) members and the Governor appoints one (1) member. The Portland appointees serve currently for three (3) year terms before rotating off the Board.
In justifying the need to eliminate term limits, Haley said “this is a highly technical board.” It involves reviewing dredging issues and work on a Brownfield’s grant for under water soil. Haley said these are “long-term projects that can’t be done with term limits” in effect because there is a lot of overlap. The Harbor Commission also supervise the 1,000 moorings in the Portland/South Portland Harbor Haley said.
Chairman Pious Ali told Haley that he has seen nothing about what the Commission does. There has been no opportunity to “observe” and “monitor” what the Board does. Haley responded that an annual report is prepared and forwarded to the city every year. However, at the time of the writing of this post, the office was unable to locate a copy of that annual report. The office manager said he had never heard of such a document and knew nothing about it. The Harbor Commission uses the office on Commercial Street, but does not consider it to be its office space.
“My first comment is anecdotal, but it appears that the pool of citizen volunteers to board & commissions is getting smaller….- but another concern may be that by making board/commission decisions could expose members to favorable/unfavorable social media posts and potential litigation,” wrote Board treasurer Bert Jongerden, in a letter to the L&N Committee dated April 16, 2018. Translation?
Councilor and L&N Committee member Kim Cook moved that the Committee recommend to the city council that the ordinance be changed to eliminate term limits for the Harbor Commission. Duson seconded Cook’s motion. It passed unanimously.
Anyone seen that missing annual report anywhere?
Please see post herein dated April 10, 2018 for more background information on the issue.