Theresa Stehly has decided to exert her public muscle once again. This time she wants to change how the Park Board is organized. The Charter Revision Commission is continuing its work reviewing and considering changes to the city's constitution called the City Charter. Stehly appeared before them last week to present her proposal along with the little threat of another petition drive if they don't heed her advice.
Stehly thinks the Park Board should be established by districts, similar to how the city council is made up and she thinks it should be so stated in the City Charter. She said she is exploring which option would be best to make this change: a charter revision, a petition drive or working with the council to draft an ordinance.
Boards and commissions serve as a public voice and advisor to the administration. They have no power, nor can they adopt ordinances. The park board is not an elected body. It is an appointed advisory body. Stehly's proposal to the charter revision commission is not vision driven but an agenda driven by Theresa Stehly's agenda.
It makes no sense to single out one board in the city charter. The charter is a big tent with broad constitutional oversight. It provides an executive, legislative and administrative structure for a home rule local government. The charter speaks in broad terms about the mayor's role regarding boards and commissions.
City Attorney Pfeifle said the city charter is not the place to address this issue. Director Kearney said the process for appointing Park Board members is working so why change it. Pfeifle is right on - the charter revision commission is not the right place for this discussion. Director Kearney is also right in that the Park Board members look out for the needs of the entire community, not just one area of town.
The tendency is to pooh pooh anything that comes from Theresa Stehly. What we do know from past behavior, Stehly doesn't like to be told no. When asked by charter board member Knudson if her proposal was also directed at the planning commission, Stehly said no, she was only interested in the Park Board. Her agendas are specific driven. Normally, I'd say run for office but, she did that and she didn't win, even though it was in her own district. She has become involved in the Spellerberg Park discussion and it is not even in her own district. Has she been asked to lead another charge or has she appointed herself as the crusade leader for the Spellerberg area?Stehly believes she has a mandate from the public because of her successful snow gate petition drive. People will sign most any petition if asked on the street. I have been known to sign a petition just to drive a discussion even though I know I will not support the measure if it came to a vote. Just because you can gather signatures doesn't mean you have a mandate on an issue.
My first thought when I heard about Stehly's latest crusade was to roll my eyes. Because ---- it came from her, again. Then I stepped back and thought, maybe it has some merit, at least for further discussion at a council committee meeting. I don't agree with her narrow viewpoint that it should only be discussed in the context of the Park Board, however. If the concept has merit, it has merit for the Planning Commission as well since both boards are recommending and advising on matters that affect the make up of the community.It could be as simple as the mayor's office looking at applications in a different light with some consideration to broad representation in the community. You can do that without changing any ordinances. Making it ironclad and specific in ordinance might create problems filling board seats, especially if no one from a specific district is interested in volunteering to serve on a board.