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
- Becky Morton – 50% (Ward 1)
- Tom Blake – 59% (at large)
- Chris Meeks – 59% (at large, acting chairman)
- Paula Smalley – 59% (Ward 3)
- 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
- Patrick McClusky – 58% (Ward 3)
- Walter Jones – 67% (Ward 3)
- Vance Moody – 73% (Ward 2)
Board of Zoning Adjustments — out of 7 members/12 meetings
- Hope Cannon – 59% (Ward 5)
Planning Commission — out of 9 members/10 meetings*
- Fred Azbik – 70%
- Fred Hawkins – 70%
- James Ponseti – 70%
- 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)