NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—This week, Mayor James Cahill re-appointed 27 individuals to continue in their volunteer positions on various city boards & commissions, naming only eleven new board members, the vast majority of which were appointed to the Senior Citizen Advisory Council.
The City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to confirm the appointments, as well as to continue in their existing roles as liasons to certain boards. The most powerful positions were bestowed on Council President Robert Recine and first-term Councilman Kevin Egan for the second straight year.
The two will serve on the Board of School Estimate, which only has one meeting per year, along with the mayor and two members of the city’s Board of Education. Together, they decide on the school budget and the school tax levy, which is not subject to voter approval as it is in most New Jersey towns and cities.
Recine will also continue as liason to the Board of Education, and Egan will continue as the liason to the Parking Authority, while Council Vice President Rebecca Escobar will continue as the liason to the city’s Housing Authority.
The mayor re-appointed his longtime aide Kevin Jones to the city’s Planning Board in 2012. Jones is the aide who was accused of voter fraud and assault on an opposing campaign worker during Cahill’s 2010 re-election campaign. The altercation was caught on video near Recreation Park in the city’s 2nd Ward.
The Council voted to allow Councilwoman Elizabeth Garlatti to continue as the Planning Board’s City Council rep. Both her and Jones are continuing to serve in positions that they have held for many years.
Cahill also appointed Anthony Barber, Jr., a former Democratic Committeeman, to join the Planning Board, one of the city’s most powerful institutions. He was also appointed to the city’s Human Relations Commission.
Edwin Keefe was re-appointed to the New Brunswick Parking Authority Board of Commissioners, whose all-white, all-male membership will remain unchanged going into 2012. Keefe, a long-time fixture at the parking authority, was also re-appointed to the city’s Traffic Commission.
Change is hard to come by on many of these appointed boards and commissions. In fact, of the 14 New Brunswick government bodies with appointments or liasons announced at Wednesday’s Council meeting, ten saw no change in membership. Two more will be exactly the same as they were, but for the addition of Mr. Barber, to replace one of the board’s members.
The sole exception to the rule is the Senior Citizens Advisory Council. The 15 members on this council almost always serve for a single two-year term before being replaced by Mayor Cahill. The Mayor appointed seven new members to the council, and has yet to re-appoint any of the nine whose terms expired at the end of 2011.
Aside from the seniors and Mr. Barber, Carmen Lopez was the only other newcomer to the city’s boards and commissions thus far. She lives in Hoffman Pavillion in the 1st Ward was appointed to serve as a tenant member on the city’s Rent Control Board.
Vacancies remain on at least seven city boards and commissions. Each board has their own requirements and qualifications, which are available at the city’s website.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment, a board that decides on applications for proposed buildings and their usage, currently has three openings for regular members, and an additional three openings for alternates. Members are appointed to four-year terms by the mayor.
The city’s Cable TV Advisory Commission currently has only two members, a far cry from the seven it is supposed to have. The commission negotiates the city’s contract with a cable television provider. Three of the vacant positions are appointed by the mayor, one by the city’s Board of Education, and another by the New Brunswick Free Public Library Board of Trustees.
In addition to the five re-appointments Cahill made to the Citizens Recreation Committee, there’s still one opening as John Tesoriero was not re-appointed. The board meets four times per year and is appointed by the mayor.
There’s also an opening on the city’s Environmental Commission, and two more on the Senior Citizen Advisory Council, which are both appointed by the mayor and meet once a month.
There are also five vacancies on the Community Arts Council, which is appointed by the mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council.
Two of the city’s officially-sanctioned government bodies have uncertain futures. City Attorney William Hamilton proposed abolishing the city’s Citizens Taxi Service Commission when the group failed to meet a quorum at a meeting on January 4. And, the Minority Business Enterprise Commission, though still on the books, has no members and has not met in years.
Almost all of the terms on the city’s boards and commissions are timed to expire at the end of the calendar year. However, two vacancies each will be opening up on the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education this spring.
If you are interested in serving the City of New Brunswick in an appointed office such as these, please download an application at the city website and contact The Citizens Campaign at 732.548.9798 ext. 3 for free advice on how to win the job.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.