Monday, June 15, 2009

What We Are Now Is What We Were When...

We are knee deep in the hoopla of the 350th celebrations here in The Rose of New England, better known as Norwich, Connecticut. And as we celebrate our past, which has helped define in innumerable ways who were are now and who we are yet to be, we would do well to also look closer at the present and what is going on in our city this week, within and without the walls and halls of city government.

This afternoon at five in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Redevelopment Agency. If you go, I'd suggest listening in as the conversation about what to do next with 26 Shipping Street starts to get some definition, especially in light of the 'new business' on both the RDA's agenda as well as later in the day, the regular meeting of the City Council, starting at seven (item nine).

The City Council agenda is never without interest, and it's true again tonight as for me, public hearing #4, isn't without its attractiveness. I wish there were more specificity in terms of what a 'non-binding referendum' on the city budget means, in relation to charter revision and for the enumerated duties of the city council (which sounds like charter revision, again and maybe some ethics review thrown in) and perhaps that will surface in the course of discussion in Council chambers.
Or we can just add a motion to close the road in Mohegan Park for the other five months of the year and have two major accomplishments for this session and another example of 'how government works' (as if we needed any more examples). Remember, you read it here first.

Also on the agenda, new business, item #9, and worth the price of admission unto itself will be another installment of what I like to think of as 'living on the precipice of a cultural renaissance.' Us and Glen Cove, New York-how could two communities be so lucky? (Maybe because our 'last names end with a syllable (sic)'? Don't look at me. I don't know what he meant either.) There's always (at least) two sides to a story (around here, usually more) so let's see if we can effectively separate the hype from the hope and determine the helpfulness.

Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 in their central office across from the Norwichtown Green at 90 Town Street is a special meeting of the Board of Education that has a familiar and disturbing similarity to ALL Norwich Public School Board of Education meetings: a near total paucity of information in terms of agenda for the meeting or minutes of previous Board meetings, either on the city's municipal website or their own.

Here's where this Tuesday's meeting agenda and last Tuesday's meeting minutes should be, but aren't. Again. I'm guess I can assume it's either ignorance of Public Act #08-3 or arrogance in thinking that rules are for people who don't know better that has the Norwich Public Schools, and by extension the City of Norwich, in violation of Connecticut state law.

The Personnel and Pension Board (ALL of whose members' appointments have NOW expired) meets in Room 319 of City Hall at six o'clock. (Small solace I know, SK, but you were right at the April meeting to oppose underfunding the pension for any reason. Sadly, as the vote indicated, you were also alone). You may already have sort-of known about this meeting, especially because of "New Business, Item A."

As Forrest Gump once observed, 'that's all I have to say about that.' (except, I'm probably not the only guy who thought he knew where to score (some Yankees tickets), eh, Mikey? How's the knee-ready for Dancing with the Stars?)

One of the local newspapers reports there's a Police Department Awards Reception (though it's not listed on their website) Tuesday night at seven in Room 335 which, if true, is a perfect counter point and abject refutation to the type of behavior so often (and TOO often) the focus of deserved news outlet and public scorn and derision in these parts. The vast majority of public safety professionals do their jobs in an exemplary manner and sometimes we forget how much sun we have after a few rainy days.

Tuesday night there may be a meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (Advisory? Agency? Board? Committee? Posse?) at seven at "Artworks to Empower" (I'd suggest Google since Mapquest draws a blank on directions) which is sort of appropriate since the city's website doesn't have a whole lot of information either.

And also Tuesday, at seven, in the basement conference room at 23 Union Street (next door to City Hall) is a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan. If you attend, and in light of some of the business on the agenda you may desire to, pay mind to what the public may comment on and when. Sometimes, people show up at meetings without understanding how business gets conducted.

Wednesday morning there's a three hour meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First), starting at 9 AM in the Dime Bank's community meeting room on Salem Turnpike. I guess the theory behind a meeting that long is that you numb one end of your body for the benefit of the other. Would be curious to learn how that works out. At the risk of repeating myself, lovely website, uncontaminated with any current information on actual or proposed programs or activities.

Also Wednesday, starting at 5:30 at Montville Town Hall and traveling up Route 32 to Howard T. Brown Memorial Park in Norwich and remaining there through Father's Day as part of the Norwich Semiseptcentennial is the "American Veterans Traveling Tribute with Traveling Vietnam Wall." (And if you wind up having a coke and a smile with jetmec, he and all the other 'just folks volunteers' are why the 350th is happening, so tell him thank you. (Jetmec is much taller now than when he made that commercial.))

And sometime Wednesday, but I've forgotten exactly when Prudy and Brad told me, Garry and Marterese will welcome a new addition to their family and another potential student in the Challenger Learning Center. Welcome to earth, young person. And thanks for being a part of the next 350 years of Norwich history.

Thursday afternoon at five is a regular meeting of the Historic District Commission in Room 210 of City Hall. And the Norwich Ice Rink Authority (all of whose members' appointments expired on the LAST City Council's watch) meets at six in The Rink over on New London Turnpike.

Gotta tell ya, I'm tired of playing "Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?" with minutes of previous meetings and other required-by-law-need-to-do items. When the government plays keep away with information its citizens are entitled to have, no one can or should wonder when cynicism sets in.

Finally, Friday morning at eight in Room 319 of City Hall is a meeting of the Chelsea Gardens Committee. Hope the link helps as that's ALL the information on them I can find and, yes, I looked at the city's website.

"Who counts the money underneath the bar? Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars? Don't tell us you need us, 'cause we're the ship of fools. Looking for America, crawling through your schools."
-bill kenny

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