Updated May 15, 10:01 a.m.–
Donald Trump isn’t the only one to face difficulty confirming his nominations. It’s happening locally on the Citrus Heights city council too.
In a rare move, Citrus Heights council members refused to confirm 25-year-resident James Remick for planning commissioner after he was nominated by newly elected Councilman Bret Daniels. No reason for the action was given by council members during the Jan. 26 council meeting, but several reasons surfaced later.
In an email statement to The Sentinel following the meeting, Daniels accused his fellow council members of acting “inappropriately” in refusing to confirm his nominee and said the move was “beyond surprising.”
Daniels said he nominated Remick due to his long-time residency, history as a business owner, and his service on several boards in the past. Remick is also a retired deputy sheriff and the founder of Badges Supporting Fallen Officers’ Families, a local nonprofit in which Daniels has been involved and currently serves as president.
Following the motion to nominate Remick during the meeting, a “second” confirming motion was needed by another council member in order to bring the nomination up for a full vote. Mayor Jeff Slowey and council members Steve Miller and Jeannie Bruins remained silent, which effectively killed Daniels’ pick. Councilman Mel Turner was absent.
Asked by the mayor if he wanted to nominate another resident from the pool of 19 applicants, Daniels declined and said “not at this time.”
According to city procedure, each council member nominates one resident to the seven-member planning commission, subject to ratification by the full council. The two remaining seats on the commission are chosen collectively by the entire city council from among the pool of residents who applied for the position.
Three of four seats up for nomination were approved by the council during the meeting without any issue. Commissioner Christy Decelle was re-appointed to another term and former Commissioner Jack Duncan was elected to the board along with newcomer Marcel Weiland, who ran for city council last year.
Daniels later told The Sentinel he questioned whether California’s Ralph M. Brown Act may have been violated by council members, if there was prior discussion held about not approving Remick. The Act requires most decision-making activity to be conducted during public meetings rather than behind closed doors.
Both Mayor Slowey and Councilman Daniels confirmed a phone conversation had occurred between the two prior to the meeting, where the mayor said he told Daniels he would not be supporting Remick.
Slowey also said several of the council members “had many discussions about many of the applications one-on-one,” but were in accordance with the Brown Act. He said the discussions were “not the same conversation” and were “not in any group setting.”
One-on-one discussion of issues among council members is allowed under the Brown Act, but the law prohibits a majority of city council members from holding private discussions that “develop a concurrence as to action to be taken on an item.”
Mayor Slowey told The Sentinel that during Remick’s prior runs for city council, he had “said some comments that I personally don’t believe were flattering to the staff or various departments in the city.” Slowey said he couldn’t appoint someone to a board within the city “that has to interact with staff and others, when they’ve said negative comments about those same people.”
“Sometimes your comments are gonna come back to bite ya,” said Slowey. “My statement is you say things and people have a long memory.”
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said that although Remick had run for city council and served on a committee over a decade ago to determine whether the city should form its own police department, “he disappeared for 10 years.”
“I thought we had better candidates (than Remick) and I’m happy with the ones we elected,” said Bruins.
Related: Bret Daniels’ election to city council called ‘a shocker’ by Citrus Heights leaders
Former Citrus Heights mayor and councilwoman Jayna Karpinski-Costa said she was “shocked” and disappointed to hear about Remick not being confirmed by the council, despite stating that Remick and Daniels had both run campaigns in the past that “criticized everything.” She recalled being “terribly offended” by past statements made by Remick, but said he was “a serious guy” who she would have supported for planning commission.
The former councilwoman, who served on the Citrus Heights council from 2004 to 2012, described the confirmation process as “a formality” and said it’s the first time she was aware of that the council didn’t confirm a nomination made by a fellow council member.
“I think you gotta come up with a much better reason than ‘he said some bad things 10 years ago,’” she said in a phone interview. “Unless there’s something criminally wrong about these appointees, they should be appointed.”
Currently, the ball is in Daniels’ court to move forward with a nomination, subject to council confirmation.
Asked what his plans for making a nomination to the planning commission are, Daniels did not elaborate, but confirmed current Commissioner Rick Doyle will continue to serve in the absence of a ratified nominee to replace him.
“I have no idea what the resolution will be,” said Daniels.
Update: Daniels later nominated Tim Schaefer to the planning commission during an April city council meeting and received unanimous approval from other council members. (See April 29 news briefs)