Tisbury selectmen prefer one of their own on port council
On August 9, 2002, acting Governor Jane Swift signed legislation changing the Steamship Authority's enabling act. The three-member board - until then made up of appointed representatives from Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Falmouth, whose members had an equal vote - was expanded to a five-member board, with the addition of New Bedford and Barnstable and a system of weighted votes.
The legislation also created a seven-member advisory port council made up of the seven port communities of New Bedford, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Hyannis, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury.
Based on the legislation creating the port council, its responsibilities include the power to review the annual budget and "advise authority members concerning any activities underway or proposed in any port community in which the authority operates."
Over the last several years the members of the port council and SSA board have attempted to translate the legislative language into a working model in which the council acts as a sounding board and a conduit for the port communities.
The port council has also served as a working introduction for the current Vineyard and Nantucket board members. Marc Hanover, a Vineyard restaurant owner, and H. Flint Ranney, a Nantucket realtor, previously served on the port council.
Prior to the first meeting of the reorganized Steamship Authority (SSA) board in September, 2002, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs selectmen filled their respective seats on the SSA's new port council with interim appointments from within their own boards. Tisbury named Tom Pachico and Oak Bluffs named Roger Wey.
Following a request for letters of interest, in November, 2002 Oak Bluffs selectmen appointed Mark Hanover, owner of Linda Jean's restaurant, to fill the position which he held until his appointment by the Dukes County commissioners to the SSA board last year. Oak Bluffs replaced Mr. Hanover on the port council with Robert Huss, a retired computer science professor.
In September, 2002 Tisbury advertised for individuals interested in the port council appointment and received letters from Sandy Ray, a prominent Island businessman, and Rob Doyle, a social worker.
But Tisbury took no action to appoint a port council member that fall. Mr. Pachico, the town's health agent, said selectmen were reluctant to make an appointment until they knew just what the responsibilities of the port council member would entail.
Mr. Doyle reiterated his interest in November, as did Mr. Ray in January, 2003. That January Mr. Pachico, vice chairman of the port council, said that while it was not his idea to sit on the port council, he had begun to build relationships with the other members and that he would like to continue to sit on the council.
At the time, Ray LaPorte, chairman of the Tisbury selectmen, said it was his intention to fill the position with someone other than a selectman. Tristan Israel, the third member of the board of selectmen, said he agreed the selectmen needed to look outside their own board for the town's port council representative.
With no public advertisement, in June, 2003 selectmen appointed Mr. Pachico, still the town's interim representative, to a two-year port council term.
During a round of annual appointments in December, 2004 selectman Tristan Israel, when asked about the port council appointment, told The Times: "We have a policy: unless a selectman wants the job, we advertise it. So if Tommy wants reappointment to the port council, we don't advertise it."
Mr. Israel said that while there has been some discussion on this matter over the years, it remains the practice that selectmen get preference.
Selectman Ray LaPorte, however, saw it differently. According to him, the practice of selectman preference for town positions only further inhibits public participation.
"That's a policy I don't support. My two colleagues support that tradition," he told The Times. "I try to promote as much public participation as possible."
Mr. Pachico's term on the port council expired on June 30, 2005. With no public notice to interested candidates for a pending appointment, on August 2 selectmen reappointed Mr. Pachico to the port council for another term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2006.