Traverse City News and Events

Commission Blocks Mayoral Appointments To DDA

Aug. 16, 2016

Traverse City commissioners blocked three mayoral appointments to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board Monday, citing concerns about churn and inexperience on the board as well as a lack of transparency in the mayor’s selection process.

Mayor Jim Carruthers said he received 10 applications for three four-year DDA terms effective September 16, 2016-September 15, 2020. All three DDA board members currently holding those seats – including Chair Chuck Judson, Rick Korndorfer and John DiGiacomo – are also seeking reappointment. Carruthers recommended the reappointment of Judson, but sought to replace Korndorfer and DiGiacomo with new appointees Debbie Hershey and Jeff Schwartz.

“It’s hard when you have really great people involved that want to stay involved, and then you have really great people out in the public that apply time and time again and you want to get them appointed,” said Carruthers, explaining his rationale for the selections.

Commissioner Amy Shamroe said she appreciated the “work and the consideration” Carruthers put into the appointments, but that she was concerned about replacing experienced board members with inexperienced ones on a body that was already a “pretty new board, a young board as it stands.”

“Two of the members that are being elected not to be kept on (have served) just one term so far,” Shamroe said, referring to DiGiacomo and Korndorfer. “Certainly we don’t like to see people sitting on boards for lifetimes, but one term and turnover seems a bit unstable. It’s not something I’m looking for on the DDA board.”

Commissioner Brian Haas agreed. “To me, this is a very important vote, it’s a very important board,” he said. “It really reflects on our city, and a lot of people look to our downtown as to the direction that we’re going.” Noting that Carruthers didn’t discuss his selections with other commissioners or share the criteria by which he made his selections, Haas said: “I think it’d be worthwhile communicating with the other people on your commission. I don’t really know what you’re thinking…I haven’t really heard anything from you on why you think these two should be replaced. Given your comments in the past about wishing this (board appointment) process was a lot more transparent in the previous administration, I think it’s fair now that we expect that from you.”

Commissioners were split in a 3-3 vote on Carruthers’ appointments, with Carruthers, Richardson and Lewis in support and Haas, Shamroe and Tim Werner opposed. Commissoner Gary Howe was absent. The motion failed for lack of a majority vote.

Traverse City commissioners Monday also approved the installation of a new marquee over the City Opera House's Front Street entrance, accepted a $79,200 grant from the United States Department of Interior to assist with the proper dispensation of Native American artifacts in the city's Con Foster collection, and approved a collective bargaining agreement for the police captains unit. The last agreement, which applies to just two city employees, will remove overtime with the exception of special events so that TCPD captains are "truly salaried," according to City Manager Marty Colburn. The agreement also calls for pay increases of 2.5 percent in 2016-17 and 2 percent in 2017-18 and 2018-19, the addition of three more days of paid vacation at the 20-year service level tier, an annual medical opt-out stipend of $3,600, and a change in a physical fitness bonus. Previously, captains who met 50 percent of the physical fitness test requirements would receive a small hourly pay increase; that will now change to 36 cents per hour for meeting the 65-74 percent standard range, and 48 cents per hour for meeting the 75 percent and above range. Colburn said he commended employees for agreeing to establish "a higher (fitness) standard for the captains and hopefully for the department."

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