Roll call 2013, member attendance summary

attendance_2Which of our elected officials leads initiatives, is communicative and accessible to residents, and casts votes fairly and for the good of the community rather than personal advancement?

Good questions, but first–who simply shows up to meetings? Here is a list, by board, of some of our least visible public officials at regular meetings held in 2013. It should be kept in mind that all boards–and especially the City Council–hold many time-consuming monthly committee meetings that are not counted here and where attendance and participation out of the public eye may counterbalance these results. [Added Jan. 7, 2014:  *One council member, Ward 2 representative Fred Hawkins, has strenuously objected to being included in a list below, saying that his absence at three of 10 Planning Commission meetings last year isn’t a fair reflection of the work he does for the city. I agree. Mr. Hawkins is on the Planning Commission as well as the City Council, where his attendance in 2013 was very regular.]

However, no discussion of attendance would be complete without special mention going to the Park and Recreation Board, in which the majority of the nine members had trouble making it to meetings more half the time, and where meetings routinely were opened late while awaiting a quorum. Included in the following lists are only those members who showed up less than 75% of the time to full meetings, followed by their attendance rate and ward they represent, if applicable.

Park and Recreation Board — out of 9 members*/12 meetings

  1. Becky Morton – 50% (Ward 1)
  2. Tom Blake – 59% (at large)
  3. Chris Meeks – 59% (at large, acting chairman)
  4. Paula Smalley – 59% (Ward 3)
  5. Keith Stansell – 67% (Ward 5)


  • Richard Laws – 8% (Ward 5 councilman serving as a non-voting council liaison to the board)

*Two of the remaining three members (with nearly 100% attendance) are now off the board — Tim Baggett due to hitting a 2-term/10-year limit on Dec. 31, and chairman Chris Mason due to moving from Homewood. Don Little, whose attendance hovered at 75% this year, leaves the board Dec. 31 after serving two consecutive 5-year terms and additional four years of another member’s unexpired term.

City Council — out of 11 members/33 meetings in 2013

  1. Patrick McClusky – 58% (Ward 3)
  2. Walter Jones – 67% (Ward 3)
  3. Vance Moody – 73% (Ward 2)

Board of Zoning Adjustments — out of 7 members/12 meetings

  1. Hope Cannon – 59% (Ward 5)

Planning Commission — out of 9 members/10 meetings*

  1. Fred Azbik – 70%
  2. Fred Hawkins – 70%
  3. James Ponseti – 70%
  4. Mark Woods – 70%

*All listed missed three of 10 meetings; two additional monthly meetings this year were canceled due to an empty docket.

Average resident attendance at public meetings, by panel

Attendance is sparse at all city meetings, particularly the Park Board, with some exception at BZA meetings, where building set-back decisions sometimes bring out a host of interested neighbors.

  • Board of Zoning Adjustments – 14 (highest, 34)
  • City Council – 13 (highest, 23)
  • Planning Commission (zoning board) – 10 (highest, 28)
  • Park Board – 3 (highest, 8)

5 responses to “Roll call 2013, member attendance summary

  1. this is very poorly written and hard to understand. why not just post all the attendance records. not sure what this is trying to convey. I can only speak for planning commission. we all communicate and when there are big issues we have 100% attendance. when there are simple things and I have to chose between school orientation being a single dad, or a grandmothers funeral, I make the right choice. We always talk and make sure important issues are covered. meetings are cancelled if there are no items to discuss. I don’t have a problem with posting all the attendance data but this is simply written badly. rambles from one thing to another and is very confusing.


  2. any idea how many meetings we go to in a month or year? have you checked at how many special called meetings there have been? what would you do if you had a special called council budget meeting and a planning commission meeting in which you are the liaison at the same time? I attended so many meetings last year. I average close to two nights a week at meetings which are mostly volunteer work for our city. Frustrates me that you or anyone else can sit back and point fingers at the only ones who were willing to get it done for our city. Any idea how many meetings I personally attend to try to secure grant money for our city on my own time? It is stuff like this that makes me want to just quit trying so hard to make our neighborhood and city better.


    • Yes, I think I do have an idea of how many meetings you and others attend. I pointed that out, saying the count only included regularly scheduled meetings and, for the council, all work sessions and one public forum, but that this did not include many committee meetings in which much work might take place out of the public eye. I can fully appreciate your objections to being mentioned. I will happily make that objection known in the text itself. Thank you.


  3. I think it’s very telling. I appreciate you taking the time to gather the data, even though there are other factors that always need consideration, and post. It also shows that the residents need to take the time to play a roll as well. Everyone is busy, but with any great community it’s a group effort. Fred always has something to say….and it’s usually not happy. Let it roll.


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