FRAMINGHAM – Mayor-Elect Yvonne Spicer said she sees two different processes being used to identify candidates for Framingham Boards, Commissions, and Committees under her Framingham administration.
Under the Town form of government, Framingham Selectmen had a very open and transparent process, in which the number of candidates and names of all candidates were released prior to the vote of the 5-member board to appoint.
Selectmen were the Town of Framingham’s authority on licenses.
Last month, when the deadline for applying for license commissioner had past, Framingham Source requested to the Human Resources Director the number of applicants and the names of every one who had applied.
Town Counsel Chris Petrini agreed with the denial, stating that the mayor-elect, as a single entity, was not required by law to release the names, like a 5-member elected board was bound to do.
On Friday afternoon, Mayor-elect Spicer announced the names of the five individuals she wishes to appoint as the City of Framingham’s first-ever License Commissioners. She did not announce how many individuals had applied nor did she release the names of all those individuals who applied for the volunteer job.
Under the Charter, the City Council has the ability to reject any candidates by Mayor wishes to appoint.
The City Council’s subcommittee on appointments, chaired by Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll, will meet on Tuesday, January 2 to discuss the mayor’s candidates.
On Thursday morning, Framingham Source, has the first opportunity to discuss with Spicer her view of how appointments, including those to the Planning, Health, and Zoning Boards, along with numerous committees, will be handled by her and her administration. All the boards, committees, and commissions are unpaid and volunteer spots.
Spicer said for boards and commissioners that will issue permits and licenses, that she will use the same process she used for the licensing commission. That includes Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Health. That process would keep the names of applicants private, until the mayor’s candidate is submitted to City Council. That means she would not be releasing the names of everyone who applied, but only making public those names of those she plans to appoint.
Spicer said committees and boards, like the cultural council, she is more open to having a more public process.
Spicer did not specifically list which boards, committee, and commissions she would treat differently, like the cultural council.
The Mayor-elect did agree that the process for appointing a Framingham License Commission is different than what it was under the town form of government, and less open to the public.
“You hit something on the head,” said Spicer to Source. “Selectmen who used to do this (licensing), who were sworn in, had gone through a process, were duly responsible and signed an oath. Now, we have taken that process and moved it to a board, that probably requires a whole lot more vetting.”
Spicer said the “other thing about not releasing names is that we did not receive permission to do so, because we never told them (applicants) that is what is going to happen.”
“I’d really like to get a legally read on it. Once again, making sure that when we do something, knowing it sets a precedent. So, when you think about the other boards, for example the cultural arts council, that is much different than someone who has the authority to issue licenses or permits,” said Spicer.
“I definately see using the same process as licensing commissioner for boards like planning, zoning, and health,” said Spicer. “Board that have that kind of purview to issue licenses or permits, we probably will go through a much more thorough vetting.”
That vetting explained the mayor-elect, means that it is likely not all the applicant’s names will be released.
The Mayor of Framingham will be responsible for appointing more than one hundred indivduals to more than 30 boards, committees, and commissions during her 4-year term.
Several members of these boards and committees had terms that expired in 2017, but a ruling from Town Counsel Chris Petrini, said those individuals could remain in those slots until the Mayor announced replacements in 2018.
Besides planning, health, and zoning, some of the other boards the Mayor would make appointments to include the Board of Assessors, Conservation Commission, Council on Aging, Economic Development Industrial Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Veteran Council, and the newly-created by the Charter, Traffic Commission.
Spicer said “right now I’m looking at those boards, the number of vacancies, and also looking at the description of each. They are pretty vague. I’m really trying to figure out how do we fill in those descriptions so people have a good perspective of what these boards do, like how often they meet” and what they do.
“Take the Human Relations Commission. I used to be on this one. A lot of the work was around social justice. I think the Commission needs to be re-named. I don’t think the name or the description does it justice. It is the one board with the most vacancies. I wonder why,” said Spicer.
Spicer also said she would like to create a “Innovation in Economy” board for the City of Framingham.
She said she would like to see the City do a better job of advertising for these volunteer opportunities.
Spicer said she plans to advertise in January to fill the vacancies on Framingham boards, committees, and commissions.
“I’ll be looking for diversity,” said Spicer. “Just as we did with the license board, I want to advertise in multiple languages to try to attract more people.”
Spicer said we “need to make sure we are adding diversity to these boards, that doesn’t exist now.”
The Mayor-elect said “one thing I am really conscious about is thinking about those 15,000 people that came out and voted. I want to keep them involved. I want to keep them engaged.”
Spicer said she is also looking to keep those “people who served” as Town Meeting members engaged, as well.
“I’m looking at finding those places, where they (Town Meeting members) can continue to serve,” said Spicer, a former Town Meeting member, herself.