October 14, 2004
A group of Scottsdale residents has asked the City Council to ban "activists" from serving on boards and commissions and to impose a fine for any appointee who provides false information.
Some council members have their own ideas about what to do with those political appointments. The council is scheduled to hear the issue Monday.
The boards and commissions, which serve as branches of the council in reviewing policies and proposals, are being hurt by residents who are too involved in City Hall politics, resident George Knowlton argued before the council in September.
Knowlton, himself an activist, also has presented the city with a petition, signed by 12 residents, proposing restrictions on activists and $250 fines for anyone providing false information on their application for a board or commission. A public apology also would be required for those violating the second provision.
Councilman Ron McCullagh said it would be difficult to set a standard to define an activist, adding that "outspokenness isn’t a qualifier for me."
Knowlton said "an activist is somebody who shows up on every occasion for everything, I mean an extreme activist . . . and has something to say with the City Council without having any true substance."
By his standard, Knowlton said he, too, should be exc luded, and that he resigned from the Neighborhood Enhancement Commission earlier this year for that reason.
Several council members said changes to the application process are needed, but not those proposed by Knowlton.
"My basic criticism or concern would be I think it discourages further citizen participation, and that’s the last thing we want to do," McCullagh said.
The council’s plans are mostly directed at limiting the politics, not the activists.
Council members consider applicants based only on basic information provided on a single piece of paper.
"Basically, it becomes pretty much a political appointment, rather than an educated analysis of who fits the particular committee or board that we’re talking about," Councilman Wayne Ecton said.
Ecton said he has been working on a proposal that would include interviews with some applicants.
Councilwoman Betty Drake said she supports adding interviews, but that the council should create a subcommittee that handles interviewing applicants and making recommendations.
"Historically, it’s been kind of an informal process, and I really feel that we need to come up with something a little more systematic and a little fairer to everybody," Drake said.