February, 1979 Home   Newsletters

March, 1979

Apr, 1979

Schools - Badda' You?
League of Women Voters Day
Calendar
Units - Units on Schools
Tracking Federal Funds in the Thickets of City Finance
They Earn $ for League
Update: Appointed Boards and Commissions
Citizen Participation
By-Law Changes
Nominating Committee Report
Program
Membership
Proposed Budget - 1979-80

Update: Appointed Boards and Commissions

APPOINTED BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS AS A MEANS OF CITIZEN PARTICIPATION: INSIGHTS BY LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MEMBERS WHO HAVE BEEN APPOINTEES

Mahalo to the following members who shared their experiences and insights with units during the week of January 21, 1979:

Dorothy Bremner Helen Griffin Dorothy Marsh Opal Sloane
Judith Collins Jerry Hess Adeline Schutz Carol Whitesell
Barbara Dykes Catherine Lyman Alice Scott

They are, or have served, on boards and commissions as appointees by the Mayor or the Governor, some with approval of the City Council or the Legislature. The boards and commissions range from those with great power and influence to those mainly established as tokens to meet Federal Government requirements for citizen participation. The subjects range from A to Z: affirmative action, education, elections, energy, environment, land use, legislative salaries, management of coastal zones, manpower planning, reorganizations, tourism, transportation, voting, water quality, women's rights, and zoning appeals. Five have been League (state or local) presidents.

Appointments were made and approved based on requests to the League for nominations, nominations made by the League without request, and visibility attained while engaged in activities for the League or other community organizations. Appointees were known to be well-informed.

The worthwhileness of the boards and commissions considering costs to the taxpayers was generally considered great if there is authority and power or the advice given results in action taken. The member-appointees recommend serving on a board or commission only if someone pays attention. A fringe benefit for one member was obtaining a paying job as a result of having served. Travel expenses have been paid.

The amount of time required by an appointee is highly variable and depends upon the initiative of the individual, number of meetings, and preparation time when decision-making is involved.

Those appointees specifically representing the League indicated they are careful to distinguish between their personal opinions and any League position on a subject. All are comfortable in trying just to be themselves and informed.

There is general agreement with the statement: "When the authority of appointed boards and commissions is substituted for that of elected officials, these bodies serve to confuse and weaken government accountability." They did not say that appointed boards and commissions fail to serve a useful purpose. Other alternatives may be less preferable.

League members, in commenting on their own experiences, seem to substantiate writings on the theory and practice of citizen participation. A model of citizen participation is Sherry R. Arnstein's "Eight Rungs on a Ladder of Citizen Participation," which goes from low to high based on the amount of control citizens have.

February, 1979 Top   Home   Newsletters Apr, 1979