Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
December 10, 2021


Several meetings ago, Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) agreed to change the procedure for making appointments to City advisory boards.  Anniversary dates for all appointments would be December as opposed to basing service computation dates on the date each particular sitting member had been appointed. Each December Commissioners would consider filling appointments that had expired that year.  Also Commissioners agreed — or those of us who watch FBCC meetings thought they had agreed — to rank applicants when more than one applied for a specific seat.  The top ranked applicant would then be appointed,  This change was proposed to ensure that all candidates were considered by all Commissioners at the same time, as opposed to having Commissioners compete to be first out of the gate to nominate their selected candidate.

Seems simple and rational, right?

The first test of these new procedures occurred at the December 7, 2021 FBCC meeting.  Things did not go smoothly or quickly. Mayor Mike Lednovich called for some discussion of the forced ranking procedure because Commissioner Bradley Bean had not favored this approach when it was first proposed.

Commissioner Chip Ross said he supported the new procedure because it is the same procedure used to select Charter Officers and has been widely used in other settings.  Both Vice Mayor Len Kreger and Commissioner David Sturges agreed with Ross.

Commissioner Bradley Bean

Bean continued to express opposition on the grounds that it would discourage participation of City residents on City Boards.  He said, “If you see a ranking list with your name at the bottom of the list, it is not good for you or your future involvement with the City. I want to encourage all these great applicants to continue applying for vacant positions.”  He stated unequivocally that he would not participate in forced rankings.  Instead he proposed that each Commissioner state his number one candidate for each vacancy.  “I think that is the fairest way,” he said.

Mayor Mike Lednovich agreed with Bean.  “I will follow Mr. Bean’s lead and only vote for my first and second choices [to fill the two Planning Advisory Board (PAB) positions].”

Bean called for more discussion prior to FBCC voting, and Lednovich concurred.  Commissioners discussed whether voting would be weighted or whether results would just be based on number of votes each candidate receives.  

With Commissioner Bradley Bean and Mayor Mike Lednovich declining to follow the previously adopted changes, an uncomfortable situation resulted with Bean contesting appointments to the (PAB).  Bean tried various parliamentary maneuvers to get his candidate appointed, but failed to do so.

Following a half hour of sometimes testy discussion, all appointments were finally made:

  • Airport Advisory Commission:  Prudence Hostetter, Tom Piscatello (non City resident position)
  • Board of Adjustment: Geoffrey Grant, Barry Hertslet, Matthew Miller, Anthony Oliva, Steven Papke
  • Board of Trustees of the Firefighters’ and Police Officers’ Pension Plan: Karl Ashley
  • Historic District Council:  Mike Harrison, James Pozzetta, Michael O’Donnell
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee:  Thomas Camera, Phillip Chapman III
  • Planning Advisory Board:  Victoria Robas, Barbara Gingher
  • Golf Course Advisory Board:  Lee Murray, Sue Simpson
  • Marina Advisory Board:  Andrew Burr, Barb Kent, Marian Phillips

Commissioners agreed to revisit the board appointment procedure at a future meeting or workshop.

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DAVID LOTT (@guest_63410)
9 months ago

Commissioner Bean acts like spoiled child when things don’t go his way. He seems to be like those that believe “participation” trophies should be given for simply showing up. While I understand that egos would be bruised if a person submitting an application for a Board position comes in “last”, such is life. There is the well told story that Thomas Edison failed dozens of times before he successfully developed a working electric light bulb. A ranking of the candidates is good enough for the selection of the Charter officers, it should be good enough for the selection of board members.

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