City council approves removal of Planning Commission member for missing meetings]

Leila Archer

Kent City Planning Commission member David Wise was removed from the commission by a unanimous City Council vote last Wednesday night.

Wise had been absent from Planning Commission meetings since March 17 and has accumulated a total of five unexcused absences.

According to city ordinance Section 105.01, “any person hereby appointed shall forfeit his or her term if he or she is absent from three regular meetings of the Board or Commission to which he or she is appointed, unless one or more of these absences has been excused by the majority of members thereof.”

Development Engineer Jennifer Barone said the committee tried to contact him through e-mail, home phone and cell phone and wrote him a letter inquiring about his absence, according to the Sept. 2 Land Use Committee meeting minutes.

Wise, an electrician who frequently does emergency electrical repairs, made a statement that if he was not at a meeting, he was probably at an emergency site where it can be difficult to contact him, according to the same minutes.

Also at that meeting, Barone said Wise had not tried to contact anyone about his absences and that they had not heard from him, but added that Wise is “a very good member.”

“He (Wise) has always been a good board member,” said Community Development Director Gary Locke.

Councilman John Kuhar said that board and committee members are usually not removed from their positions.

“It’s very rare and very uncomfortable for council,” he said. “It puts you in a situation where the person was hindering the process by not showing and calling to let people know what was going on. There was not even an excuse given or a reason given.

“It’s just not good to let it go on, and it was not comfortable to have anyone be removed, especially since the person was a volunteer.”

The Planning Commission has five members. When a member is absent, voting could result in a tie. The bigger issue, however, is when two members are absent, because that reduces the vote to three, said Locke.

“You have a vacant seat until it is filled,” Kuhar said, adding that it could affect the voting, depending on who is present. “Somebody gets the flu and somebody else is stuck somewhere, you don’t have enough people to do a vote.”

While it is very rare for members to be removed, Kuhar said there are some common reasons why it may happen.

“Generally unexcused absences are the number one reason. There are probably other reasons, (such as) not conforming to the rules. But it (removing board and committee members) doesn’t happen,” he said.

Kuhar said that the position will probably be advertised. The position is filled on a volunteer basis.

Contact public affairs reporter Leila Archer at [email protected]