Posted: 3:24 pm Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Moffett calls reelection of James as commission president a ‘power grab’; resident says it’s ‘sickening’
By Andrew Abramson
Keith James will serve an unprecedented second consecutive term as commission president after his colleagues voted him in over Sylvia Moffett, who was next in line for the presidency.
Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell made the motion, saying the commission has big items on its plate and “when you have a Harvard Law school grad, it doesn’t get much better than that. From that vantage point I think the cohesiveness that he brings and brought to the job in the last year is something I’d like to see.”
Moffett blasted the decision calling it a power grab and saying it was a slap in the face to the north end residents she represents.
“To make someone chair two years in a row is just not a good idea at all. It’s a power grab,” Moffett said. “I think it’s because I didn’t support (Shanon Materio in the election) and there’s a lot of reasoning in your head about this. I’ve spoken up against a lot of things on the commission and sometimes I’ve supported them. But I’ve always spoken with the best interest of the city at heart.”
The debate clouded what was otherwise a happy occasion as the commission chambers were full of family and friends of Materio, James and Ike Robinson who were being sworn in for a new term.
Mayor Jeri Muoio agreed to move public comment up so residents could speak before the vote on commission president, but Mitchell tried to make her motion before the public could speak saying the city should “follow the agenda.”
Muoio allowed residents to speak after the motion made but before the vote was held, and four residents bashed Mitchell and other commissioners for not selecting Moffett.
“This hypocrisy is a bit much for me, it really is, to the point of sickening,” resident Debbie Finney said.
“I’d urge all of you to vote your conscience, which there doesn’t appear to be a lot of up here today,” resident Terry Knight said.
Resident William McCray called it “dysfunctional, shameful and an embarrassment to the community.”
And resident Sandy Matkivich said James uses “bully tactics” as commission president and asked commissioners to “do the right thing.”
James said he had planned to nominate Mitchell as commission president but he accepted another term.
Muoio did not speak at the meeting but said afterward that “unfortunately politics has taken the place of orderly transition and I think the decision, while everyone said it wasn’t political, I think it was definitely political.”
As the commission has opposed some of Muoio’s policies, Moffett has been the one commissioner who has stood by the mayor. Moffett was also the only commissioner to support Gregg Weiss over Materio for the District 5 seat.