Board appointments spark debate

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2011

The Kenai City Council rejected one of several commission appointments brought forth by the mayor during after a contentious discussion and vote Wednesday evening.

Councilmen Mike Boyle and Bob Molloy raised objections and questions to one of Mayor Pat Porter's appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission and asked the council to vote separately on Barry Eldridge's nomination.

Porter nominated Eldridge instead of current commissioner Jerry Brookman. Molloy asked why he wasn't asked to serve another term.

"I'm choosing not to nominate Mr. Brookman," Porter said.

Krista Stearns, the city's attorney, confirmed that it was up to Porter to decide who she nominated.

But when Porter said the matter was not up for debate because it is the council's role to confirm or deny her appointments, Stearns informed the council that they could discuss the issue like they would many other votes.

When the council voted to split the planning and zoning appointments from the others, Porter was the lone vote against the move. Council member Brian Gabriel joined her side to vote against splitting Eldridge's nomination from the other planning and zoning appointment, Scott Romain. Romain was confirmed unanimously.

Eldridge's nomination was rejected by a margin of one vote. Porter, Gabriel and council member Joe Moore voted for Eldridge.

Molloy and Boyle were joined by council members Ryan Marquis and Terry Bookey in opposing the appointment.

In public testimony later, Eldridge said he was surprised at the action of the city council.

"I'm very disappointed in the action of the council," he said.

Kenai resident Bob Peters said he wasn't surprised, but was still disappointed.

"This us-against-them mentality of the council is not very attractive," he said.

Porter said she will have another applicant for the council to confirm at the next meeting.

-- Molly Dischner

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