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Aldermen reject Robinson's appointment to volunteer board


August 03, 2005 - In perhaps a first for the city of Crestwood, the Board of Alder-men last week rejected a mayor's appointment of a resident to a vol-unteer board.

Aldermen voted 4-3 July 26 to reject Mayor Roy Robinson's appointment of Martha Duchild to the city's Civil Service Board.

Opposed to Duchild's appointment were board President Tim Trueblood of Ward 2, Ward 2 Alderman Jim Kelleher, Ward 4 Al-derman Joe O'Keefe and Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe. Voting in favor of Duchild's appointment were Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding, Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox and Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel. Ward 1 Alderman Richard LaBore was absent.

Aldermen first considered Robinson's appointment of Duchild to the Civil Service Board at their July 12 meeting.

Besides considering Duchild's appointment, aldermen approved three other appointments on July 12. Don Kelley and Tom Ford were appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission and John Kreilich was reappointed to the Board of Adjustment.

During a discussion of the appointments, Kelleher said that he had some difficulty finding background information about the residents.

Noting that information about his appointments was available at City Hall and aldermen could ask to inspect that information, Robinson said, "But one question came up was the fact that a lot of the information that's on this (application form) people do not want to be put out in the public and we've made them confidential at their request. So that's the reason why we maintain them in the office ... Most of them did use the new form on the (city) Web site.''

Kelleher said, "OK, great. Well, based on that, I'm afraid I'm ill prepared because I did not review the background so I don't know if this candidate has a relevant background for civil service, but I do know that in the past this candidate has been confrontational to the board and has not necessarily been solution oriented and so I do have those concerns.''

Robinson said, "... The only thing on the Civil Service Board is, the requirement is that the person cannot serve on any other commissions or boards and that they sincerely believe in the rights of the civil service people ... She meets all these criteria ...''

Aldermen deadlocked 3-3 on Duchild's appointment with Trueblood, Kelleher and Duwe opposed and Breeding, Mi-guel and O'Keefe in favor. Maddox and LaBore were absent.

Robinson broke the 3-3 tie in favor of Duchild, but later in the meeting Breeding said, "... I'd like to reconsider the Civil Service (Board) appointment that we talked about earlier, not because of the person, but simply because of my ignorance. I don't know what the Civil Service Board does, and I was out of town this weekend and upon reflection, I need a better understanding of what the Civil Ser-vice Board does before I can approve someone being on it. So I move for reconsideration.''

Aldermen voted 5-1 with Miguel opposed to reconsider Duchild's appointment and then voted to table the reconsideration motion at Robinson's request.

At the July 26 meeting, Duchild addressed the board, noting she did not attend the previous meeting because she had been on vacation.

"... After having read accounts of the previous board meeting at which my appointment was tabled, I feel compelled to make the following remarks,'' she said. "One, given the fact that before Mayor Robinson took office there were no application forms required for volunteers, it is probable that the board knew even less about most of the volunteers whose appointments they approved than it does about me. Under the new set of standards, you have made my appointment the first to question. Why? This board has not seen fit to question any volunteer until Mayor Robinson took office. Polit-ical machinations aside, does it really benefit the city to scrutinize those who are offering their time as volunteers?

"Moreover, do you really think this type of public scrutiny will encourage more people to volunteer? There are probably many good people who would like to volunteer for the city, but after reviewing how the board treated my nomination, those whose expressed opinions happen to differ from the majority on the board might reconsider any desire to serve the city. And what a shame that would be. If the board chooses to set this precedent of publicly screening applicants for volunteer positions, then before it judges any candidate to be unqualified, it is incumbent upon the board the board first, to delineate what the job requirements are and then demonstrate that the person applying does not have the credentials for the position,'' she said.

Noting she had no doubt that those opposing her appointment disagree with views she has expressed in the past, Duchild said, "But that in no way should have any bearing on my fitness for a volunteer position. And to judge me based on my views rather than my qualifications is a mistake whose repercussions are a disservice to the community. I hope the members of this board can rise above their personal feelings long enough to allow a civic-minded resident the opportunity to serve this city.''

Duchild also addressed the comments made by Kelleher at the previous meeting.

"In my defense, I would like to assert that what he views as confrontational, I and others see as a determined, concerted effort to get answers, a trait, by the way, which would be a great asset to the Civil Service Board. Further-more, his comment that I have offered no solutions is un-founded. I have offered solutions, he simply did not agree with them. There is indeed a difference between hearing a solution with which you disagree and hearing nothing at all. I would like to conclude by saying that my letters to the press and the minutes from the meetings at which I have spoken are a testament to the fairness I have demonstrated when dealing with the city I care about and its representatives and would continue to demonstrate as a member of the Civil Service Board ...,'' she said.

Trueblood asked Robinson about Duchild's qualifications.

Robinson said, "She's a resident of Ward 3. She's above 21 (years old), so I think she can serve. The other thing is ... she is a good hard-working resident of this city and that's all the qualifications it takes. But I also, when I talk to people about a position like this and she will attest to this, I stated to her I would like for her to serve on that board, not to be a mirror speaking as I would request or anybody else request, but do the fair thing for the employee. And most certainly I would never interfere in their work. So that's all I had to hear is that she would be an advocate for the employee and that she would be fair and open minded and make sure that the people were treated correctly. So that's the reasons I appointed her. She agreed to that.''

Aldermen then voted 4-3 to reject Duchild's appointment.

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