Another Look Needed In Berlin

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There could be an appropriate ending at next week’s Berlin Mayor and Council to what has been an ugly sequence of events.

At last week’s meeting, Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale appointed local businessman John Barrett as a permanent replacement on the Berlin Planning Commission for Dave Rovansek, who has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer in Baltimore for the last several months.

Rovansek had been informed by Cardinale in a letter a temporary appointment would be made while he dealt with his treatments away from home. It’s worth mentioning here Rovansek had been regularly attending his monthly meetings while still being treated. Nonetheless, Rovansek, who learned about the move later in the week because he never received the mayor’s letter, was replaced permanently at last week’s meeting. The mayor said the decision was a result of the council having a policy of not appointing temporary or alternate members to commissions. While lauding Rovansek as a key member of the board, Planning Commission Chair Pete Cosby said the council’s policy of not appointing temporary or alternate is a wise one.

Cardinale said this week he’s going to ask the council to revisit the issue and request it be allowed that Barrett serve as Rovansek’s alternate. According to the mayor, Barrett, much to his credit, has no problem with that. The council would be wise to acquiesce. This is not about a longstanding policy, code or politics. This is about fairness, sentimentality and respect.

Agree or disagree with his views, Rovansek has served the town well in his time on the commission. He’s one of the more outspoken and eloquent members on the board and brings a lot to the table with his engineering expertise, architectural knowledge and community awareness. He certainly deserves the opportunity to continue to serve in the same capacity. Add to his record of public service the fact he should not be permanently replaced while he’s battling for his life and this is a classic no-brainer. The man has the will and ability to volunteer his time, despite the rigorous treatments that have disrupted his life this year.

This awkward situation has been mishandled, but the Mayor and Council has an opportunity to save some face next week by allowing an alternate to serve for Rovansek. That’s only fair. There’s a time and place for policies to be enforced, but there’s also instances when issues need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. This situation certainly falls into the later category and calls for an exception to the general rule.

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