Planning Commission To Appoint Fitzpatrick Replacement?
Early in the Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting tonight Chairman Colin McCarthy informed the public that, following several discussions he had with Mayor Eric Bever, the commission will fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of Jim Fitzpatrick at the July 9 Planning Commission meeting.
MAINTAINING THE "STAGGER"
According to McCarthy, the staff will initiate a recruitment effort immediately and the four remaining commissioners will screen the applicants and individually interview those in whom they have an interest. According to McCarthy, the appointment will NOT be for the remainder of Fitzpatrick's term, which expires in January, 2015, but only through the General Election in November. Effectively, that means the NEW council will appoint a replacement for Fitzpatrick as well as consider replacements for McCarthy and Vice Chairman Sam Clark, whose appointments expire January 31, 2013.
It is unclear whether that means the Fitzpatrick replacement would be for a four-year term, even though there will only be two years on Fitzpatrick's term remaining. The objective is to have staggered terms, so the new council could appoint three persons to four year terms in January and retain that "stagger". Commissioners Ed Salcedo and Rob Dickson are scheduled to serve until January 31st, 2015.
LOOKING FOR THE AUTHORITY
It is also unclear where the authority for the commission to appoint a member, even though it is short-term. I searched the Municipal Code and the California Government Code for the authority for the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy. I was unsuccessful. The authority MAY be there and I simply overlooked it. It has been my understanding that the authority to appoint a commissioner resides only with the City Council. I wrote to the City CEO and City Attorney on this issue, looking for the reference to the authority implied. I'll report back here when I receive a reply to my inquiry
Earlier the commission gave Fitzpatrick a big wet kiss in the form of a proclamation honoring his service to the city as a planning commissioner. A couple of them referred to him as "Director Fitzpatrick", a reference to his position as a Director on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board. We await the results of the legal action to see how much longer he holds that position.