A new member of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission has been selected in a 16-8 divided vote of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, again raising issues over the interview process for board appointments to county panels.
A. David Baumhart of Bloomfield Hills was selected on Wednesday, July 6, to serve the remainder of Charles Palmer’s three-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2012.
The Board of Commissioners’ General Government Committee, in a 5-4 party-line vote on June 27, nominated Baumhart.
Commissioners John Scott (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield), Robert Hoffman (R-Highland), and Christine Long (R-Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Milford) voted in committee to nominate Baumhart, while Commissioner Marcia Gershenson (D-West Bloomfield) cast a nay vote.
“He is a very qualified person for (the parks commission),” Scott said. “I saw no sense in wasting the other (applicants’) time if they were not going to be selected. I spoke with Jerry Fisher (chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission) and asked him about Dave Baumhart and he knew him real well. He was highly recommended.”
Baumhart listed Fisher, Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts, and Commissioner David Potts (R-Birmingham) as references on his application.
“We post every citizen appointment and we had citizens who responded, very qualified citizens,” said Gershenson, who also cast a vote against the appointment when it came before the full board last week. “My feeling is that, when you put out a public notice for a public appointment, you owe it to the public to interview those citizens who took the time to apply.”
She stressed that her vote against the appointment was not “because of Baumhart,” who she said “seemed like a very nice man.”
Commissioner Mattie Hatchett (D-Pontiac) crossed party lines and cast her vote in favor of the appointment.
Palmer resigned due to health reasons.
Baumhart currently runs ADR Advantages, PLC, which provides mediation and arbitration services on pending litigation. Prior to that, he was the director of the Settlement Office for the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1998 to 2009, and was a litigation attorney for Clark Hill from 1992 to 1998. He received an undergraduate degree from Olivet College and his law degree from Vanderbilt University.
Those serving on the 10-member Parks and Recreation Commission serve three-year terms, are paid a $35 per meeting, and receive county mileage reimbursement.