Manteca finally has a fifth planning commissioner and it isn’t any of the four who applied during the City Council’s second call for applicants after rejecting six candidates in mid-December.
Parminder Singh Sahi — who two months ago was appointed as the alternate and who has served for the past year on the general plan citizens advisory committee — was elevated to the permanent position on an unanimous vote on Tuesday.
The appointment process was as rocky as the first time around when the council rejected six applicants as not being qualified enough or lacking interest for not showing up at the meeting to make a pitch as to why they were the best qualified.
This time around Mayor Ben Cantu quickly called for a recess when Manteca resident Al Moncada wanted to protest the move to appoint Sahi on the grounds that he believed the public had been misled about what was on the agenda. Cantu tried to cut him off saying he already had the opportunity to speak. Moncada continued to talk at the podium and Cantu kept telling him he was out of order. Finally, council members Jose Nuño and Dave Breitenbucher stood up as they heard Cantu call for a recess although what the mayor said wasn’t audible in the audience. Finally as Cantu stood up and Nuño and Breitenbucher walked away from the dais, Moncada stopped talking.
Moncada took issue with Councilman Gary Singh’s proposal to move to rescind Sahi’s appointment as the alternate at the Dec. 18 meeting and appoint him as a permanent member.
Moncada argued that shouldn’t be allowed given Sahi’s name wasn’t among those listed in the agenda back up packet of being considered for the appointment on Tuesday. He also noted that if the council was going to do that they should reconsider all of the people at the Dec. 18 meeting that they did not appoint to the permanent position.
As an added twist Councilwoman Debby Moorhead referenced an email from former councilman Richard Silverman who applied the first time for the planning commission but was rejected. In the email Silverman indicated he wanted to be considered for the position again on Tuesday.
Silverman Tuesday evening confirmed he sent the email noting that he was under the impression all six of the applicants the council rejected in December were still being considered. He said the city clerk’s office staff informed him that since he had not applied again that he would not be considered.
Moncada outside the meeting said if that was the case, then why was Sahi considered since he hadn’t applied again. Singh’s move actually got the City Council out of a box they put themselves in on Dec. 18. After they rejected the six candidates, three council members — Nuño and Singh who were former planning commissioners and Cantu who served 30 years with the Manteca planning staff — said they wanted applicants that had experience with planning commission business.
Sahi met that with six weeks of experience sitting in as the fifth voting member of the planning commission plus 12 meetings on the general plan citizens’ advisory commission. That said Silverman has four years on the council making a final decision on planning commission recommendations.
The council criteria that all commission members have planning commission related experience also did not sit well with Moncada who argued that new people should be given the opportunity to commission level input in shaping city growth.
The council ended up appointing Kirk Dall to the alternate position Tuesday on a 3-2 vote with Nuño and Breitenbucher dissenting. Dall along with Jason Laughlin, Gerard Machado, and Satpreet Singh had originally applied for the permanent position. After the council voted to elevate Sahi, all four said they were open to serve as the alternate.
The alternate participates in the discussions at all meetings but doesn’t vote unless one of the permanent members is not present.
The council on Dec. 18 rejected Armajit Dhaliwal, Barron Gonsalves, David Cushman, Stephanie Kong, Geraldine Williams, and Silverman.
In mid-December they appointed Leonard Smith and Ron Laffranchi to the commission and Sahi as the alternate. Smith served 8 years and Laffranchi has served as an alternate.
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