A resolution that would have created term limits for volunteers who serve on Monmouth County’s autonomous boards and commissions was squashed by the freeholder board’s Republican majority.
Freeholder Amy Mallet, the lone Democrat, posted a resolution for consideration at Thursday’s workshop that would prohibit volunteers from serving more than 10 or 12 years at a time, depending on the length of their term. She argued that a rotating membership is critical to provide “fresh ideas” and eliminate complacency on boards that have fiduciary control over county programs and services.
“This is a good start to making the necessary systemic changes,” Mallet said, adding that she drafted the resolution in response to the recent Brookdale Community College scandal over the former president’s generous benefits package and a criminal investigation into spending irregularities within the president’s office.
But the four Republicans argued that good volunteers would be thrown out with the bad.
“I am completely opposed to this resolution,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “It’s an insult to the people who give their time and talent and are not compensated for it.”
Freeholder John Curley had expressed support for term limits before the meeting and even conceded Thursday there was public support for the measure. But he said he couldn’t vote for the resolution because the lack of a grandfather clause for sitting members nearing their limit was “too harsh.”
Freeholder Director Robert Clifton said he would have preferred each board member start from zero when they come up for re-appointment, but Mallet said that’s too long to wait for change. She insisted Friday that she will work with the Republicans on a compromise version but wasn’t immediately sure where she would bend.
Clifton stressed that what needs to be changed is how the freeholder board decides who should serve in these critical roles. Essentially, no more rubber stamping appointments.
The freeholders, he said, need to be more vigilant in scrutinizing each appointment. That means reviewing the meeting minutes, attendance records, interviewing candidates and getting recommendations from respective staff members and board chairmen.
But shouldn’t they have been doing that all along?
“There’s no excuse,” Clifton said Friday. “We are where we are, and we need to step it up. It’s more work for the freeholders, but that’s what we were elected to do.”…