Being clear about commissions

Council is wise to adopt more deliberative selection process

For some quotations, context is everything. Keep that in mind when you read what Chico City Councilwoman Mary Flynn had to say at the December meeting in which she and her colleagues reconsidered their procedure for appointments to boards and commissions: “I like the idea that Joe the Plumber could be a planning commissioner.”

Really? The guy who said he was a plumber but wasn’t, and complained about taxes but didn’t pay them—that’s who she wants to give a vote on how our city gets developed? Of course not. He’s just the off-the-cuff example she used to represent the sort of candidates who tend to get overlooked: those not well-connected or well-known.

Flynn wants the most qualified citizens selected—that’s why she pushed for the more deliberate, two-part process that begins tonight (Jan. 8). Rather than hold a hurried single session, the council will hear from and discuss the candidates in the first meeting and reconvene Jan. 20 after “a period of reflection” to vote.

We applaud the change. Council members confessed the obvious when they admitted not giving, in their early 2007 decisions, as much consideration as they could have to applicants, as well as to how the new appointees would affect a board or commission as a whole. Now they will, along with sharing their priorities and selection criteria.

We mention Joe the Plumber as a lesson to listen carefully. Council members, please make sure you’re absolutely clear on a candidate before casting your vote, and please make sure you’ve made diversity an intentional choice rather than a reflex action.