by Kristin Casale
Munroe Falls -- City Council confirmed Mayor Frank Larson's appointments to the 2007 Charter Review Commission, but not without some opposition.
Council approved each appointment on an individual basis during Council's meeting Tuesday. Seven of the eight Commissionmembers were approved by a unanimous vote.
Council unanimously confirmed the appointments of James Brown, Ron Budzowski, Rosalie Canfield, Tom Craig, Horace Highland and Carol Pullin to serve on the Commission. Joe Halpin was confirmed as the alternate member for when another appointee is unable to attend a review meeting.
Commissionmember Mike Barnes' appointment was confirmed by a 5-2 vote.
Councilmembers Dave Bertsch and Cathy Laubaugh voted against confirming Barnes saying they believe he cannot act as an unbiased member of the Commission.
Barnes, who serves on the Parks and Recreation Board, managed Larson's campaign when he ran for mayor in 2003. According to Law Director Jack Morrison, Barnes' role in the mayor's election campaign does not disqualify him from serving on the Charter Review Commission.
Barnes dismissed the concerns of Bertsch and Laubaugh, calling them "ridiculous."
"The Charter Review Commission has absolutely no authority," he said. "The group as a whole is going to come up with recommendations."
The Commission recommends charter changes to Council, which must vote on whether to place them on the November ballot.
Bertsch said he believes working with Larson's election campaign makes Barnes "too closely aligned with the mayor."
Laubaugh agreed, saying, "I don't think anybody should have their own agenda, and I think [Barnes] does."
Larson said he believes Barnes will review the Charter from an objective point of view, characterizing the "no" votes from Bertsch and Laubaugh as "just politics."
"[Barnes] is an active citizen who is interested in the process and has been for quite some time," said Larson. "He ran for mayor [in 2000], and I think his opinion is worth having."
Council President Mike O'Donnell said he believes all the Charter Review Commissionmembers will serve the community well.
"I think they're all open-minded, and I think they'll do a good job," he said. "I don't think Mike Barnes will have any particular agenda."
The city charter, which spells out the powers and duties of Munroe Falls officials, must be reviewed every five years by a seven-member group appointed by the mayor, according to its provisions.
The Charter Review Commission's meetings are open to the public. The group's first meeting is set for Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. in Munroe Falls City Hall.