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Bring greater transparency to appointments

The recent appointment process for two local aldermanic seats should have been more transparent. We urge area mayors to let the public in on their selections well before the city council meeting convenes.

Published: Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

Twice in recent days, Sauk Valley mayors announced they planned to appoint new members to their respective city councils, but neither mayor would release the person’s name beforehand.

Morrison Mayor Roger Drey would not release his choice for the Ward 4 city council seat before the special meeting he called on Monday. The previous alderman, Ron Kallemeyn, resigned in August.

Rock Falls Mayor David Blanton would not release his choice for the new Ward 4 alderman in advance of Tuesday night’s meeting. The position became vacant when Bob Thurm resigned in August.

On Monday, Mayor Drey appointed former Alderman Scott Connelly to the vacant Morrison council seat. The council unanimously approved.

On Tuesday, Mayor Blanton appointed John Watts to the vacant Rock Falls council seat. The council unanimously approved, as well.

Both appointees appear to be excellent choices.

In Connelly, an instructor at the Morrison Institute of Technology, residents of Morrison’s Ward 4 have an experienced council member. Connelly has a previous term under his belt.

In Watts, an assistant store manager at the Sterling Walmart, residents of Rock Falls’ Ward 4 have a youthful council member (age 33) who has demonstrated management skills, human resource skills, community involvement and enthusiasm.

Releasing the names of Connelly and Watts in advance of this week’s meetings would have served several purposes.

Council members would have had a better chance to consider the appointments beforehand. After all, when a mayor names an appointee to a council vacancy, council members are under no obligation to immediately act. Lacking sufficient advance information, council members have the option to table an appointment. Advance notice of appointees’ names likely would render that course of action unnecessary.

Residents of the respective cities would have had a chance to weigh in on the aldermanic choices. They already have that right on Election Day. The public likewise should be let in on the process when a vacancy must be filled.

We say, release appointees’ names the week before and allow feedback from the public before a final vote is taken.

Increased transparency instills greater public confidence in government. That’s something all governments, including cities, need these days.

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