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Hyattsville Committees, Boards in Disarray

Government Fail: Almost of all of Hyattsville's six municipal subcommittees are either vacant or illegitimate.

Of Hyattsville's six appointed boards, commissions and committees, only one–the Board of Elections Supervisors–has a full deck of council-approved members.

In a memo describing a sort of organizational hell, Acting City Administrator Elaine Stookey detailed the extent of a near complete failure of basic governing skills like term tracking and adherence to open meeting laws.

"There does not seem to be a process in place to track the committee (or board appointments)" wrote Stookey in the memo. "It is also extremely important that Open Meetings Act is followed by each commission, board and committee."

The city Environmental Committee's terms all expired three years ago on Jan. 31 2009, as far as city staff were able to discover. There is also no evidence the city council ever approved its mission statement. Though the Environmental Committee does advertise its meetings, and maintains an active email list, city staff were unable to locate its meeting minutes. The group also does not have a city staff liaison. 

The city Shade Tree Board, which actively works to approve permits for tree removal, has three members, six short of the nine called for in city code. But two of their terms are expired, and there is no record that the city council approved the third member.

The entire Planning Committee's terms expired on June 30, 2012, and there is no evidence that its mission statement was ever approved by council. The Planning Committee does, however, routinely comply open meetings law, publicizing its meetings and recording its minutes. 

Likewise, the city's Code Enforcement Committee is vacant, with all terms expired as of July 2012. City staff were unable to locate either a mission statement or meeting minutes for the committee. Its meeting postings don't always comply with the Open Meetings Act. Despite this, the committee does have a council liaison and staff liaison. 

The city Ethics Commission, required by the soon to be implemented ethics ordinance, needs to have all of its members appointed.  

The Hyattsville City Council will be discussing this issue at its meeting tonight at 8 p.m. at the Hyattsville Municipal Building on Gallatin Street.

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