From Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka:
My apologies for the brief hiatus in emails over the last couple of meetings… Let me bring you up-to-speed.
There are two issues that I believe warrant your attention – the first of which is the recent appointment of 7 residents to the Planning and Zoning Commission. More so, my concern is the process by which these appointments continue to be made and the role (or lack thereof) the trustees continue to play in the appointment process.
The second issue is regarding The Turnberry Lakes SSA-8 and the village’s very recent statement/clarification on lake usage, which I will address in a follow up email.
On the April 12, 2016 Village Board Meeting Agenda, there was a motion to approve 7 appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The residents seeking these appointments were: Don Miller, Jason McMahon, Thomas Mula, Alan Hopkins, Robert Hansen, John Schrauf and Tim Morvay.
In conjunction with this motion was another motion to appoint Jason McMahon as Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
I was the sole “NO” vote on both of these motions, while Trustees Santowski, Iden, Furey and Thomas voted “YES” to both. Trustee Davis was absent.
Here is the problem as I see it:
Per our Municipal Code, the Village President makes these appointments “with the advice and consent of the board of trustees.”
My concern with these appointments, and the appointment process itself, is as follows:
With the exception of one of the named individuals seeking appointment, I know nothing of these individuals – and, as it turns out, the other trustees who voted to make these appointments, know little more of these individuals than do I.
This is NOT to say that the individuals seeking appointment aren’t completely capable, competent and honest people – it is only to say that I had no way of determining this.
None of the trustees were afforded an opportunity to meet these individuals, to speak with them, or to review any type of resume, curriculum vitae or appointment application. Therefore, we cannot possibly, in good faith, have given our “advice and consent” on appointing them.
I expressed this concern to the board and asked each of the other trustees if they had any prior personal knowledge of these named individuals that they could speak of.
Each of the other trustees stated that they had no specific knowledge of these individuals, but that they were “comfortable in making these appointments based on the recommendation of village president, Erin Smith, just as they have always done in the past.”
Now, I am not making any accusations toward anyone here, however, I do feel quite strongly that this “modus operandi”, as continues to be practiced by my fellow trustees, is cause for concern.
Particularly, after a very recent, potential zoning scare in and around the Turnberry area, as well as a recent zoning debacle in The Gates, where a group of residents were forced to spend a substantial amount of time and money fighting what they believed (and I agree) was an improper zoning determination by the village.
These residents were successful in their efforts in this zoning dispute, but, they are not able to recoup the time and money they were forced to spend- nor are Lakewood taxpayers, in general, able to recoup the tax dollars spent in this legal action.
My personal opinion is that if the “advice and consent of the board of trustees” is warranted – as our Municipal Code states (and as I absolutely believe it to be in making these appointments) then there must be a vetting process in place that allows the board the time and the means to conduct its due diligence in making appointments such as these.
I believe anything less demonstrates a haphazard and reckless approach to governing that only lends itself to the potential for further legal actions and repeated injustices to our fellow residents.
It is for these reasons, that I, alone, voted against these appointments.
I encourage residents to reach out to trustees Santowski, Iden, Furey and Thomas and ask them to explain their actions in these appointments.
You can reference these motions on page 127 of the board packet at the link below.
I hope you’ll share this email with fellow residents and encourage them to join my email list. An informed community is our best assurance of promoting honest, accountable government.
As always, your thoughts, questions and concerns are always welcome.