Saturday, June 27, 2009

4 Incumbents Recommended for Coastal Board

By Peter B. Lord

Journal Environment Writer

Governor Carcieri, in an effort to bolster the shorthanded Coastal Resources Management Council, has submitted the names of four of its members to the Senate for reappointment.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture was expected to review the nominations Thursday evening.

But even if the nominees are approved, the council is still down to just seven members, the number it needs for a quorum. Many officials are concerned that a skeletal council won’t be able to review and vote on critical projects looming in the near future, particularly a $1.5-billion coastal wind farm and its related developments.

Since January the council has canceled several meetings because it couldn’t enlist enough council members to attend. What’s worse, existing council members will have to recuse themselves when conflicts arise, and one recusal would leave the committee unable to operate.

One council member is W. Michael Sullivan, director of the state Department of Environmental Management. The DEM is involved in many cases that come before the council. Also, Chairman Michael Tikoian recuses himself whenever attorney Joseph DeAngelis brings cases before the council, and DeAngelis is involved in many cases.

The Senate has approved one bill that would reconstitute the council and allow for more members. A House committee Thursday was set to consider an entirely different bill. Time is running out to get either one through both sides of the legislature.

Meanwhile, Common Cause Rhode Island is arguing that the governor has the authority to simply appoint more members.

Carcieri on Wednesday presented the names of Paul Lemont, Ray Coia and Donald Gomez. They all serve on the council, appointed at a time when the Senate’s advice and consent was not necessary. Amy Kempe, Carcieri’s spokeswoman, says the governor is resubmitting them to the Senate now as a courtesy. A fourth council member, Bruce Dawson, had previously been appointed to the council and had received Senate approval.

Gomez’s term was not up, Kempe said, but the Senate asked that his name be resubmitted as a courtesy.

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