I've already posted here about the reports of Washington County Chair Andy Duyck's efforts to blackball local citizens from boards & committees if they don't subscribe to Duyck's political and policy agenda. Unsurprisingly, Duyck's got some help when it comes to eliminating citizens from the Metro Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC).
Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey told me that MPAC isn't functioning now the way it was designed: to be the advisory committee on land use to Metro. Willey says that Metro is no longer following the input of MPAC. "MPAC's focus should be on insight and research to assist Metro. Their focus has been lost in the last few years," Willey said. "As incoming Chair, I was asking mayors and county commissioners to reevaluate who represents them."
Willey also said that he has felt that members weren't representing their jurisdictions. "County chairs and mayors want MPAC members to reflect the policies that they support." He also said that people who have served on committees a long time can be less efficient or engaged. But he did admit that the current Washington County citizen representative, Nathalie Darcy, makes every meeting.
This is an odd position to me. Why bother to have this committee at all if their job is simply to rubber stamp the wishes of mayors and county commissioners? If the desire is simply to get their input and advice, it seems like Metro would have created a committee specifically for that purpose. But they didn't. They created a committee that contains citizens who can bring their citizen point of view to Metro.
Unfortunately, Metro Chair Tom Hughes seems to be on board with the scrubbing out of members as well.
Hughes said he's wanted to re-consider the citizen membership of MPAC since he took office, but the issue was on the back burner in 2011. His staff said they had been working on the final touches of replacing MPAC's citizen representatives – two of whom are the longest-serving members of MPAC – since November.
But political issues in Washington County, where anti-sprawl activists have been battling with Washington County mayors who generally support policies that favor outward expansion, have cast a shadow over Hughes' intentions for a discussion about the tenure of MPAC members.
All this serves to do is further marginalize citizens in Washington County from their various levels of government. As it stands, urban unincorporated Washington County residents are on the verge of being completely locked out of any substantive voice in local government, with the exception of one County Commissioner, Greg Malinowski (and yes, this includes Metro--urban unincorporated is vastly underrepresented on policy by Kathryn Harrington). Malinowski finds himself on the losing end of virtually every major land use vote on the County Commission, including those that directly impact his district. Nathalie Darcy is a citizen on MPAC who has been representing urban unincorporated WaCo residents--and she's being shown the door because she does just that.