Marco Council rejects 'time-out provision' for advisory committees

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Marco Island city councilor Charlette Roman during her time on the Planning Board.

A proposal that would have given elected officials a "time-out" from participating on advisory committees has been shot down by the Marco Island City Council by a 4-3 vote.

Vice-Chair Charlette Roman, who ran for office on the platform of effective government, had suggested the creation of a rule that required members of city councilors to wait two years from the expiration of his or her term until joining a committee.

"City councilors can make important contributions to the community after leaving
office," Roman wrote in a position paper prior to the May 7 council meeting. "However, serving on city boards and advisory committees is problematic.

"Former councilors may continue to push a specific agenda after leaving office,
especially if they had been unsuccessful with that effort during their time on
council. They may also attempt to dominate the advisory board or committee,
which could stifle information sharing among volunteer citizen members and
make it difficult for the board or committee to work effectively on issues."

Roman's proposal was adapted from an already present "time-out provision" in the city's charter.

Section of 3.04 (4) of the City Charter establishes that outgoing elected officials cannot take a compensated position with the city within four years of the expiration of their political term.

Roman's proposal, however, did not get the requisite number of votes as her colleagues questioned elements of the proposal.

"If you didn't get your agenda through after four years of being able to vote on things, I seriously doubt that you're going to want to take an unpaid position to continue tilting at that windmill," Councilor Howard Reed said.

Reed said a time-out provision for advisory committees throws away talent from participating in local government and that the problem of someone on a board or stifling information sharing was not limited to just former city councilors.

While he called Roman's suggestion "honorable," Councilor Joe Batte, who said he was not looking to join a committee once his term expired later this year, agreed with Reed and was put off by the idea of denying civic engagement to anyone.

Along with Reed and Batte, Councilors Bob Brown and Victor Rios voted against the proposal.

Chairman Jared Grifoni, who supported the provision along with Roman and Councilor Larry Honig, called the proposal a great idea because it fights the perception of political class on Marco Island.

"The time-out period is an advantage for the citizens," Grifoni said. "It's an advantage for councilors. It lets you refresh, lets you rethink about issues and it doesn't prevent you from participating like Vice-Chair Roman said."