, Salem, MA

December 5, 2013

Cahill objects to mayor's picks


---- — BEVERLY — Mayor Bill Scanlon has a month left in office, but the next mayor says it’s time for him to let up on the gas pedal.

Mayor-elect Mike Cahill said yesterday that he objects to Scanlon trying to make appointments to city boards in his final weeks in office.

Scanlon asked the City Council on Monday night to reappoint 10 members and appoint two new members to the Planning Board, Parks and Recreation Committee, Harbor Management Authority and Board of Health.

Cahill called on the council to hold off on those confirmations so that he can make the selections himself after he takes office on Jan. 6.

“We’ve reached the point where it’s time for this administration to wrap up its work and for the next administration to pick up,” Cahill said.

At least some city councilors feel the same way. Confirmation of mayoral appointments to volunteer boards is usually a routine matter, but on Monday, the council’s Public Service and Legal Affairs committees both delayed their votes on the proposed appointments.

“I think they’re all good people being pushed forward by the mayor,” said Councilor Jim Latter, who chairs the Public Service Committee. “We’re also at the point where we’re moving to a new administration. It’s very understandable that the new administration wants some input on who sits on these boards, as well.”

Scanlon, who did not run for re-election, said he submitted the appointments because he wants to make sure the boards have a full complement of members in the new year. His recommended appointments fill either resignations or terms that expire at the end of the year, he said.

“If you don’t keep boards and commissions fully staffed, you can have a dysfunctional board,” Scanlon said. “Hopefully, (the City Council) will deal with those. Otherwise, we could very well have a Planning Board or other boards that can’t function for lack of a quorum.”

But Cahill said he would make his appointments quickly enough to avoid any problems.

“I plan to meet with some people before we reach office so that I can put names forward very early on,” he said.

In the case of the 10 proposed reappointments of current members, the terms would last for three years, until 2016. The two new appointments are to fill vacancies caused by resignations and would be for one-year terms.

“These are appointments that will begin in 2014, and they’re people I will work with and the incoming councilors will work with,” Cahill said. “It’s appropriate that I put names forward for those positions.”

Cahill said he would meet with board and commission members whose terms are expiring before deciding whether to recommend them for reappointment.

One of Scanlon’s proposed appointees is Maria Decker, the current School Committee president who lost her re-election bid and will leave office at the end of the year.

Scanlon has recommended Decker for a seat on the Planning Board. She would fill out the term of Charles Harris, who recently resigned.

“She’s been a very active person. She’s bright, thoughtful,” Scanlon said. “We have a resignation we have to deal with on the Planning Board.”

Scanlon’s proposed three-year reappointments include Tracy Geary, Jan Jeffgood, Henry Pizzo and Ezra Holland to the Parks and Recreation Commission; John Thomson, Ellen Hutchinson and Michael O’Brien to the Planning Board; Paul Earl and Paul Miedzionoski to the Harbor Management Authority; and Susan Higgins to the Board of Health.

Scanlon has also recommended Dorothy Bolas to complete the Parks and Recreation Committee term of Michael Ralbovsky, who resigned.

All of the positions are unpaid.

The Public Service and Legal Affairs committees are scheduled to consider the appointments again at their meetings on Monday night at City Hall. Public Service handles the appointments for the Parks and Recreation Committee, Harbor Management Authority and Board of Health, while Legal Affairs deals with appointments to the Planning Board.

Councilor Wes Slate, who chairs the Legal Affairs Committee, said he has asked that the Planning Board appointees be invited to Monday’s meeting. Slate, who lost to Cahill in the mayoral election, said he has not spoken to Cahill about the appointments.

“We have an obligation to take care of any business on our agenda,” Slate said. “We’ll take it up on Monday and see where it goes.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or