Friday, January 6, 2017
Council demotes ZBA Commissioner
Hell hath frozen over.
After watching the Wednesday night City Council debate to 'swap' a ZBA Commissioner with a ZBA First Alternate, GA agrees with Mike Russo! (and Ramos and DeFusco and Mello.)
GA is taken aback that a sitting ZBA Commissioner in good standing was demoted for a 'swap' with a ZBA First Alternate. The optics of the Council reaching into an autonomous board to swap (demote/promote) parties without cause sucks.
Or should I say, reeks...
If ZBA Commsssioner Granas (who GA doesn't know) was not doing a good job, then its reasonable to 'fire' him when his term expires in three weeks. That is what the public would expect.
But, that doesn't seem to be the case, according to the Council debate.
"Antonio is good but we like Dan better" is what it sounded like to me.
Sure, a variety of reasons were given for demoting Granas. A few spoke about his "philosophy." One spoke about "protecting" the city. One spoke about his voting record.
Well, the opportunity to learn about Granas' "philosophy" was before hiring him in 2014.
I recall being grilled like a fish on about my philosophy by a skeptical Council person in 2009, before I was hired to my full-term seat. As far as "protecting" the city as a reason to demote a sitting Commissioner- one independent-minded ZBA Commissioner is not a threat to our city.
Independent-thinkers who are hired to do a job, are honest, work hard and in good faith, should be not demoted.
If the City takes issue with their decision-making, or "philosophy" or feels they are somehow a "threat" then don't renew their contract- certanly don't keep them on the board! In this case, all the above reasons were offered to slide Granas down in 'rank' - not remove him.
GA likes and respects Weaver; I hear he does great work on the ZBA.
But like my friend Councilman Bhalla said, "First Alternates often get to vote" and Weaver does get to vote. He also participates in discussion at the board meetings. Whether or not he votes, he has the opportunity to influence the opinion of the board.
So is there a material difference in the contribution that First Alternate Weaver will make when he takes Granas' spot?
Not enough, in my opinion, to justify the terrible message the Council has sent to the public.
Yes, the Council has sent a terrible message to members of the public considering putting themselves out for unpaid, volunteer and often thankless board service.
Message: you may work like a dog, sacrifice time with your family, get flack from the public (in my case, a LOT, related to this blog) and ultimately do the JOB, only to be demoted/humiliated by the body that hired you.
Hey, GA has to keep it real and this is my opinion.
Not from nothing- I served on the ZBA for 4 years myself, so understand how much work and responsibility it is; I spent hours prepping for each meeting. I also worked with Commissioners with whom I had "philosophical" differences with on some applications. Sometimes I had a "philosophical" difference with the majority. Should I have been demoted for that?
The arbitrariness of demoting a Commissioner who has done nothing wrong has the appearance of favoritism and (sorry) hubris. That is what it looks like.
Don't believe GA? This message came from a stalwart Reform activist:
I don't know whose idea this was and why but its hard to see any conceivable legitimate justification other than the fact that Weaver has some influential personal friends.
In my opinion, the Council overstepped its authority. It's the Council's job to thoroughly vet and exercise due diligence in the ZBA Commissioners they hire. If the Council learns it erred in a decision, there's a remedy: "don't rehire" not "keep and humiliate."
My unsolicited personal advice to Weaver- a good and decent unpaid volunteer- would be to serve out his term and apply for the next full term seat. That's what I would do, but of course that's me.
My unsolicited personal advice to Granas would be to flip the Council the bird and resign. Write a letters to the Editor, make a stink. For your unpaid service, you got humiliated. That's what I would do, but of course that's me.
GA doesn't like all decisions my Reform peeps make, and have honest disagreements sometimes.
But, this action looks like something GA would rip our opponents for.
I invite any Council peeps to come on and tell me why I'm wrong.
GA note: Does anybody know about "A Smarter Future" Treasurer Frank DeGrim's "philosophy?" He was appointed Fourth Alternate to the ZBA last year. To this day, DeGrim has not filed a single R-1 ELEC report- this is the only ELEC on file: