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Sun, Jan. 26

Wilson removes Commission on Aging from council agenda

PRESCOTT - Facing the likely defeat of a proposal for a new Prescott Commission on Aging, Mayor Jack Wilson pulled the matter from discussion on Tuesday.

Although the council discussed the creation of the permanent commission at this past week's study session, Wilson skipped over the agenda item at this week's voting session.

Wilson later said he opted to remove the item, because "It looked like it was on the ropes."

Rather, Wilson said he plans to take a different approach with the board and appoint it as a mayor's commission - an action that would be less permanent but would not require the support of the City Council.

When the council discussed the new commission at its July 7 study session, three members - Mary Ann Suttles, Jim Lamerson, and Bob Roecker - all voiced concerns. Three others - Wilson, Lora Lopas, and Robert Luzius - appeared to support the measure.

Only Councilman Bob Bell voiced no opinion at that meeting. On Wednesday, Bell reported that he also had concerns about the commission.

"I felt very strongly that a committee would be just fine, but to appoint a commission that would be on the same standing as the Planning and Zoning Commission - no," Bell said.

That led Bell to suggest to Wilson that the mayor pull the item from the agenda.

The lack of council support for the Commission on Aging has raised concerns for William Arnold, the chairman of the Prescott Vision 2050 planning effort - the organization that originally suggested the Commission on Aging.

Arnold recently put his fears about the fate of the rest of the 2050 plan into an e-mail to the chairmen of the various 2050 working groups.

Because Wilson spearheaded the 2050 planning effort, Arnold worried that its recommendations would not get the support of some of the council members.

"When I met council members it was clear that they did not like any idea that Jack had and would not support it," Arnold wrote.

Even so, he said this week that the group will move forward and continue to advocate its recommendations.

On Wednesday, Wilson maintained that the 2050 recommendations had "become politicized" because the report is coming out during the ongoing City Council election season.

Both Wilson and Arnold said they wished the report had been complete sooner.

And Wilson disputed the implication that he was using the 2050 plan as a platform in his re-election campaign.

"To say they're my supporters is baloney," he said of the people who worked on 2050. Instead, he said the council should look at the recommendations as "2,000 people talking, not Jack Wilson talking."

But Bell suggests that 2050 representatives are exaggerating the political angle.

"I think they're being unfairly sensitive on that," he said of the suggestion that the council would not support the 2050 recommendations based on opposition to Wilson.

"I wouldn't say that we wouldn't welcome other suggestions from 2050," Bell added. "I know we had good people in there, who worked hard and did their best."

Wilson kicked off the Vision 2050 effort early in 2008 to plan four decades into Prescott's future. It included more than a dozen working groups that focused on topics such as downtown, economic development, water, and aging.

Arnold said Wednesday that he had submitted the final draft to Wilson just that morning. Wilson will now review the voluminous report, and said he could be ready to take it to the full council by August.

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