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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Directions: Truly New or Just Different?

Sat through a goodly portion of both a community conversation on acquisition of the former Norwich State Hospital property from the State of Connecticut as well as the first in what I hope is a weekly series of mayoral debates. Though, hand on my heart, I will not be surprised if that doesn't happen.

The presentation on the state hospital property has implications in the here and now and in the sweet bye and bye. Right now, with the economy the way it is, there is no stream of developers, sincere smiles glued to their faces, waiting to talk about what they'd like to do with about four hundred acres (a lot of it is in neighboring Preston, the remainder about sixty-odd acres are in Norwich) of land that is seconds from the interstate and mere moments away from either casino.

And that's not a bad thing as we don't know what we don't know, but judging from last night's turnout and involvement, we're getting smarter all the time and that's a good thing. We have a ways yet to go before we have to make a decision, and I can only hope, as Preston did, we , too, will have an opportunity to vote on an acquisition action.

And maybe we can figure out a way to give people who have attended the committee's meetings more votes than the folks who just read the newspaper stories and then offer a comment at the bottom of the page. I'm kidding of course. This is a democracy where your researched and well-informed decision can be negated in totality and perpetuity by my unknowing and clueless vote opposing yours. Maybe that's why it's called the 'miracle' of democracy. ;-)

As for last night's debate, perhaps the organizers should be awarded a prize, perhaps a watch, so that at the next one, we can all know in advance what time it should start. And then maybe it will. I can only assume that the confusion on the start time had something to do with the number of folks who showed up (and/or didn't show up) and I don't want to hear any rationalizations or explanations for the number of attendees present.

With the number of registered voters in Norwich, we should have to dress warmly and head up to Dodd Stadium to accommodate all the interested citizenry. Of course, we both know that isn't going to happen and, point in fact, if you meet in the course of today more than one of the next fifty people who even realized there was a mayoral debate last night, we're doing great. I encountered someone yesterday afternoon who thought 'the debate has something to do with who we're electing to be the next City Manager.' Yeah, thanks for playing. I convinced that person to stay home having failed to persuade them to move.

The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the habit. Speaking of which, voter apathy is a habit we here in The Rose City can no longer afford. No need to wait for help, there's nobody coming this time. Downtown is what happens while we see what happens (and there's a word we can substitute for 'downtown' and we both know it). Deux ex government is a dream that's become a nightmare. We are all we can depend on and that's fine because we are all we have ever needed. If not now, then when? If not us, then who?
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tomorrow Begins Tonight

This has all the makings of an historic day in Norwich. We just finished blowing out the candles on our 350th birthday party, so we're sort of experts on history around here. Not so coincidentally, the next 350 starts near the center of downtown, actually at City Hall, and goes all the way across town to just beyond Chelsea Parade, to the campus of the Norwich Free Academy.

At 5:30 in Room 335 of City Hall, we're about to get serious about what to do with the Norwich parcel of land from the State Hospital. Lots of folks across the region and around the state of Connecticut have watched our neighbors in Preston wrestle and 'stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast' as they fluctuate between freedom of choice and freedom from choice.

Take that struggle as a cautionary tale. If you're not concerned about having a say in what becomes of this land then you deserve whatever happens to you. But don't stand so close to me, okay? Some people have told me they can't be bothered to attend-and they're right, they can't be bothered. The volunteers on the committee have been at this long and hard, with lots of stubby pencils and measuring twice and cutting once. The last I checked, all of them were (and are) our neighbors and we should honor their efforts with an effort of our own. If you think it doesn't make a difference, you're right, it doesn't. But then don't complain when you don't like the decisions for the road ahead. Stop being a victim. Become your future.

You'll probably have to leave that meeting early to get to the Slater Museum auditorium at NFA by seven thirty (time changed this morning, that's why you didn't know) for the first of the mayoral debates. I told you a long time ago about how I feel and why, but come and hear for yourself from each of the very generous people seeking your vote for Mayor. It's a part-time position with more than full-time challenges and aggravation and it is marvelous that four citizens would offer to serve, especially when I read about other towns where 'unopposed' is the rule of the day. The headline in yesterday's newspaper pretty much captures where we start, but where we stop is up to each of us. Tomorrow begins tonight, with or without you. If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. Your choice, your voice. Use one to define the other.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 28, 2009

Calendar Pages and Autumn Leaves Often Fall Together

The first full week of Autumn is approaching its end (which means, since I'm a half-full glass kind of guy, winter is closer now than it was last Monday, BUT the end of winter is also a week closer) and with baseball playoffs, moving vans rolling through the Business Park shipping the Double-A team to the South, and high school, college and pro football all battling for our attention while the gridlock in Washington DC (Disruptive Contention) continues, there's the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other of daily life on this Big Blue Marble to which to attend.

And we're the ones who do it-and sometimes, inadvertently (and other times maliciously) do it to one another. I tried one day last week to count all the local elections going on across these fifty mostly United States and gave up as the number was staggering. That doesn't mean we shouldn't care or that we should become passive-on the contrary. "I am only one, But still I am one. I cannot do everything, But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

Part of what makes this country this country and not somebody elses' are the tens of billions of hours of volunteer effort that we invest in making where we live a better place. You doubt my number? Go to your local town hall and see where the notices of meetings are posted-then find out how many of your neighbors are involved in the various groups that are meeting, and calculate the amount of time those meetings take (And don't forget to add the prep time and the follow-up time). How's that calculator doing now? Yeah, that's what I thought. Meanwhile this week in The Rose City....

This afternoon at five, in Room 210, says the city's website it's a regular meeting of the Redevelopment Agency whose August meeting was cancelled. Curious about the July meeting whose minutes are posted-if five of nine members was a quorum, how many votes does it take to get a motion passed if not all five? And while I understand (or say I do) that meeting agenda are not required by State law to be posted on municipal websites, again, why is there space to post it, and a history of their having been previously posted. Curiouser and curiouser.

Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 it's a special meeting of the Norwich Hospital Site Development Committee ('special because they would normally have met yesterday, Yom Kippur), in Room 335 of City Hall. I don't know where most of the previous meeting minutes are-they're NOT on the city's website. I have them, because Bob Mills, who is helping steer this group, sent them to me because I asked for them and will send them to you as well if you drop him a note at BobMills@ncdevcorp.org. Here's the meeting agenda.

Not to put too fine a point on this, this project is about to reach critical mass, and unless you enjoyed the spectacle of angry voices in Council Chambers protesting the Regional Intermodal Transportation Center, Byron Brook, or a dozen other projects across the city whose public hearings were sparsely attended by an absent and/or indifferent public, find the time to get engaged and get to a meeting, because the public is welcome and welcomed. Heck, they let me sit in on the meetings; they'll embrace you with open arms.

Also Tuesday, at six at 16 Golden Street in the Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) building is a special meeting of the NPU Board of Commissioners and the Sewer Authority.

And Tuesday at seven, on the Norwich Free Academy campus, in the Slater Museum auditorium is the first (finally!!!) debate among the four men seeking to be the next Mayor of our city, Mark Bettencourt, Peter Nystrom, Joseph Radecki and Robert Zarnetske. I've already watched the snippets on Voice for Votes website until I can do all their answers by heart. The format calls for the moderator, Ray Hackett, of the Norwich Bulletin to ask each candidate the same questions in the course of one ninety minute session. Wear a coat as it's possible a very warm place will get extremely cold before some of those on stage successfully speak in other than bromides and empty platitudes. The two things we no longer need in our next Mayor.

Wednesday evening at half-past seven, if you live in Norwich and have yet to register to vote, or if you're a registered voter who will NOT be in Norwich on Election Day and need an absentee ballot, or have any other concerns or questions about your rights (and responsibilities) as a voter, be in Room 335 as the Office of the Registrar of Voters has special hours to make sure as many of those citizens who wish to be involved can be. Still not setting off any bells? Click here and learn more-each one, teach one.

On Thursday, a local newspaper suggests there's a workshop sponsored by the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center at six in Room 335 of City Hall--a workshop the Center's own website doesn't list, but it, in turn, has other activities very deserving of further interest.

Closing out the week at seven on Thursday in the basement conference room of 23 Union Street it's a meeting of the Inland Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission. Their meeting on 3 September was cancelled so this, I'm assuming is a special meeting or at the very least, a different meeting. Bring a date and dine by the whites of their eyes.

Yeah, I know, there's band practice after school and the falling leaves will not rake themselves-though how cool would that be? And there are a hundred other reasons for leaving all the lugging and tugging to someone else, but I suspect Washington had better things to do a long time ago on a cold winter's night when someone said 'there's a rowboat across the Delaware in ten minutes, George, be on it.' There will always be another river to cross so let's hope it's always standing room only in the boat as we all put our backs into the oars.
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Whistles the Wind

I only have one of their albums, and technically (of course) it's not an album, it's a CD but I'm such a fossil I still package music in obsolete units of measure because it's inconceivable to me that you'd ever consider buying it like hamburger, but, rather than by the pound, by the download. I came from an era where people my age showed their devotion to music and musicians by naming their children, 'Dylan' and such. And the generation that followed us name theirs for fruits and vegetables (shoe's a little tight, Gwyneth and Chris?)

The band is Flogging Molly and aside from the same biology that places us in the same genus and species, I have little in common with anyone within the band. They are considered an Irish and/or Celtic Band which does NOT mean Kevin Garnett enjoys them, but helps build the box we can put the label on, to help us not think about what an artist is or what they do-instead we can say 'do you like So-and-So?' And depending on the answer, we can then say, 'you really should try this guy/these people/that ringtone; it'll remind you so much of So-and-So.' One of those all 'ducks are birds but not all birds are ducks' if we can't be profound, let's be profane moments we cherish so much.

I'm gonna wind up writing later this week about politics in general, the election season in Norwich somewhat obsessively and in particular about the first mayoral debate Tuesday evening at Slater Auditorium at the Norwich Free Academy starting at seven to such a length you'll attend to just shut me up. That'll be fine as why you go isn't nearly as important as the fact that you go at all.

The Norwich Bulletin is the sponsor and their Community Conversations Editor, Ray Hackett (who used to write a wonderful blog that stopped, more than merely ended, some months ago) will serve as the inquisitor of the four mayoral candidates and when he's on his game, he is quite the thing of beauty to watch. Which means we might be able to start sifting through the detritus that all prospective mayoral candidates have as part and parcel of their campaigns (it's how this business works) and pick out the grains of importance, interest and integrity that will help us make an informed choice.

I can hear you from here, 'and this has what to do with a band from Los Angeles who now make their home in Ireland?' Maybe nothing and maybe everything, you tell me.
"Well it breaks my heart to see you this way.
The beauty in life, where's it gone?
And somebody told me, you were doing okay.
Somehow, I guess they were wrong."
Perhaps they're singing about a past lover, but I think, and I've listened to this song maybe three hundred (or is it three hundred thousand?) times in five years but never really heard it until late yesterday driving on Water Street through what was downtown Norwich, that they're singing about where I live.
-bill kenny

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lovin' the Large Vowel

Today's the day Thelma and Louise take in The Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts. Again, this year, The Gimp will be accompanying them because, heck, I helped get this tradition started, I love going there, and I'm the one in the family with a car. And judging by the number of them that we'll be sitting in traffic with as we edge up to, and slowly through, Springfield and park on side lawn of St. Mary's church, just like we do every year, every person in the Northern quadrant of the Western Hemisphere will be there. I hope they don't run out of cream puffs.

The Big E is a large county fair, with an amusement park. Oh, and amazing eats. Yes, then it's a large county fair, an amusement park, with great food. And individual New England State Exposition Halls (the Connecticut Hall has more insurance agents than all of North Dakota; of course, Massachusetts has hot and cold running Sam Adams) jammed with local delicacies and curiosities. So, to review, The Big E is a county fair, an amusement park, an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, with history and attractions. And about four hundred Home Shows on Steroids going on at the same time. Did I mention the concerts? From the top..... amongst----

Kidding aside, The Big E is so large you can see it from your house. Seriously. (Click on that link at 2 this afternoon and the person waving you'll see is me. Unless I forget or aren't there yet. It's the thought that counts anyway.) For the last couple of years as my original equipment knees creaked, I lagged farther and farther behind until by last year, I had my own little foldable camping chair that I slung over my shoulder as we went from the World's Tallest Horse (who really is) to the world's smelliest cows, not that this is how they're advertised.

Not this year. I've got me one of those super TKR, without the Ginsu attachments, still under warranty and am raring to see what this baby can do. Our weather is supposed to be nice, like you need a certain kind of sky to gorge on deep-fried Oreos (I'm NOT making this stuff up-besides most of it I just watch other people eat as I certainly can't have it). Or why not try an Elephant's Ear? Turns out, we're going on Vermont Day, which may mean all the Ben and Jerry's we can eat, but very possibly not.

My wife, daughter and I go early and stay late and still never manage to see it all and every year we vow to do better the following year. And every year we come back and try again. Yeah. It's been a pretty crappy year in spots so far for a lot of people (if you think Sarah Palin had a rough year, check her brother, Michael) and the forecast, at a lot of levels, is for not so many smiles for the months ahead. So if you can, it runs through next Saturday, channel Vanna White and when you buy a vowel, make it a Big E.
-bill kenny

Friday, September 25, 2009

Talking With and Not at One Another

If you're in Norwich Tuesday evening at seven, then you should be in the Slater Auditorium on the campus of Norwich Free Academy for the first in (I hope) a large and long series of mayoral debates among the four men seeking to be the next occupant of that office in our City Hall.

Mark Bettencourt, Peter Nystrom, Joesph Radecki and Bob Zarnetske will offer insights into who they are and what they intend to do, and how they'll do it, when elected Mayor. It's our first opportunity to get behind the slogans and listen for real-world, real-time solutions. The speed of light is much faster than the speed of sound which is why so many people seeking office can look good, until you hear what they have to say. We'll get our chance to test this theory Tuesday night.

Probably true where you live as well--concerns we have about economic development, the creeping growth in the cost of local government, the stabilization of revenue streams to better guarantee infrastructure expansion and maintenance as well as to fund the initiatives and people behind the programs that make where each of us lives a place to come home to. The issues are relatively self-evident--developing answers seems to be the tricky part. Welcome to the human condition.

Throwing rocks through a window is easy, when you pick the right stones. And some times having them is part of what being the person in charge is all about. Here in the Rose City, we ran out of easy answers right around the time the last of the mill operators pulled out and headed South (during Eisenhower's first term I suspect) and we've spent the last half a century living and doing without as a result of hoping things would get better but forgetting Hope is Not a Plan.

It happens here and on your street, too. People mean well but don't have the ability or the skills to do well (in a specific task at a specific time). Here in Norwich, the Mayor is a four year term with the six alderpersons on the City Council serving two years (with no time off for good behavior), so in theory we can swap out talented people in a relatively short amount of time. The challenge is, sometimes, we change the cast but it's the same movie (I can always tell by the soundtrack, "Days of W(hine) and (Neu)Roses").

We celebrated our 350th anniversary this summer--and it was, for me (NFH-not from here), sobering to realize when we spoke of the "Good, Old Days" how old so many of those days seemed to be and how rarely we used good to describe the more recent ones. We need to use today and everyday to get all of us to the future. Tuesday night will be the first time those in charge of the map get to open it up and set a course. We're gonna make the first part of the next 350 years of our history. Be there, your children will thank you for it.
-bill kenny

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome to Mudville

We knew it was coming but that knowledge didn't make make it hurt less. That the story showed up on the front pages today even though it happened at mid morning yesterday just makes it a lot easier for baseball fans in Southeastern Connecticut to say 'I read the news today, oh boy.'

Turns out, the past season of the Connecticut Defenders at Dodd Stadium in Norwich was also the last season for the team in Norwich. For 2010 Double A baseball, Richmond, Virginia, has a team in what I assume will become the reconfigured Southern Division.

We can't be surprised. For the fans in the stands, it's all magic. But it's a business for everyone on the field, and beyond the fence back in the clubhouse. I'll feel a twinge of embarrassment when I come across a resume for Cutter and Tater, the mascot and the former mascot that all the kids loved, somewhere on Monster dot com, but a gig's a gig.

And it'll feel sore for a while and then after the snow that covers the seats and the fields and the left field berm has melted next March, it'll be more than a little painful to realize the Boys of Summer have a new address and its zip isn't 06360. I'm gonna miss the notion that "the ball goes up, the ball goes down. Swings his bat all around."
If it's all the same to you, I'll just close my eyes and listen to the cheers.
Remember when we used to shout 'Go Defenders!'
How could we know they would?
-bill kenny

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Finally! Somebody OLDER than me...

I'd seen Bruce Springsteen perform maybe a dozen and a half times (or more) before he signed with CBS Records. I was an undergraduate commuter student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey (whose current Mayor was my classmate, since we're dropping names) from 4th through 8th grade at St Peter's (sic) School). Commuter was a fancy name for townie which was what more than half the campus was, and we could have known that if we hadn't worked so hard to avoid knowing one another.

The Rutgers campus in the early seventies was still pretty small and somnambulant. There was Rutgers College and across town, Douglass College for Women, and out by the Johnson and Johnson manufacturing complex off Route One towards Landis Ford was the Ag School, later to be called Cook College of Environmental Sciences. This was all before the big-time college football bug bit everyone and the campus sprawl that took over Piscataway Townhip

The basketball team played it home games in a gym with an Olympic swimming pool in the balcony-regarded as very avant garde for its time we were told. Most of the RC campus was between Buccaleuh Park and the J & J Office complex. As a comms major, I hovered around Voorhees Hall, across from the green where Willie the Silent (William of Orange) stood his lonely vigil over us all.

Commuters had crap. Almost nothing on the campus was designed for us, except this hideous concrete slab of a building that looked out over the Raritan River, and onto Highland Park on the other shore. Glass walls where it wasn't cement and all winding stairwells and cavernous rooms lined with the kinds of couches that once you sat down in them three people needed to help pull you out.

The Ledge-or to give it its official name, The Rutgers College Commuter lounge. There were two soda machines, one of those 'hot food' machines that you knew from looking in the little glass glass doors on the front that all the food in it had come with the machine when it was delivered. Nothing went on at the Ledge, ever, except on Friday nights when there was 'a show'.

That's all the hand lettered signs ever said, 'show'. They never said 'concert', they never said 'dance' they never said 'rumble' and most Friday they were often all three and more often than not, all at the same time. It was a buck to get in and plastic cups of beer were a quarter. It was loud and crowded and as the weeks went on, it got more so. With music, beer and girls some of us more socially challenged figured this was as close to heaven as we might ever get. We were righter than we thought.

Eventually more than a few noticed that the bands on stage on Friday nights, Steel Mill, Sundance Blues Band and Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, were pretty much the same guys week in and week out. And leading all of these bands was Bruce Springsteen, part-time cover boy for AARP Magazine and now rock and roll deity emeritus.

Today, he is sixty years old. I don't know that many people I've grown up with that I've also grown old with (pretended I forgot about you, Nat, but I didn't). Back in the day, I didn't know anyone my age now at my age then, so I guess this is progress. I've rhapsodized in this space often enough about the energy, earnestness, enthusiasm and engagement he brings to every performance, so I imagine he and the E Street Band will take a break from preps for the Giants Stadium shows (one of which some, part, or all of the 'Jersey roots' of my family will be attending) to do as each of us does at this stage in our lives when we hang another birthday on the line and contemplate the mysteries concealed by the Spirit in the Night.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

With Apologies to John Prine

With my daughter and I currently sharing a car as a result of a theft, I get a chance to learn new things, or to re-learn old things (I'm not sure which), as another driver's perspective offers an informed contrast to my own notions.

Two years ago or so, the wind shear noise from the rolled up front windows (actually all the windows are electric, so I'm not sure what the phrase should be, 'zipped up' or 'zoomed up' how about 'powered up'? Now I feel like a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger) was so pronounced that as part of the routine maintenance for the Subaru Forester at whatever mileage it was at, I had the garage see what could be done to quiet the hubbub three feet from my ears.

Their solution, and it seemed to work, was to swap out mirror housings, at my expense of course which was only fair. The vehicle warranty covers reasonable wear and tear not all the minutiae damage that Mr. Persnickety Ears can come up with. Some months ago, it seemed to me, at somewhat elevated speeds (and since you might be connected to the public safety/law enforcement community, let's leave those speeds this side of specified, okay?) that the noise was coming back. Actually, it was back and had even accomplished a mail forwarding request through the USPS, I just didn't want to believe it.

Being my father's son, I had a solution that did not involve anything mechanical--turn up the volume on the CD player and the Sirius Radio receiver. (Should you ever be in need of an acoustic baffle, I'd suggest almost anything by Dropkick Murphys, whose anger, velocity, virtuosity and sheer exuberance make me feel like I'm doing a hundred miles an hour even when I'm parked in the garage.) As time has gone on and other rattles and noises have been added to the not quite celestial choir, I've been turning the volume up to eleven and beyond.

Michelle, who was behind the wheel for part of the day on Sunday as she ran errands with her Mom, has far keener hearing than her metal-headed father and her years of music instruction and concert performance has made her far more sensitive to road noises. Luckily she has her mother's sense of how things are put together which means far fewer invocations of 'sinister force' as a cause for breakdowns and far more often a 'let's roll up our sleeves and see what the matter is' approach.

She shared with me that much of the noise was caused by a split seal on a 1/32" long piece of rubber gasket that separates the driver's side window from the car frame (Foresters like many (maybe all?) Subarus, have NO door frames that window glass slides up into. I don't know why) and she speculated a piece of black gasket tape, to close the gap would do the trick in terms of dampening.

We've often been told as she grew up by a variety of music teachers that she has a wonderful sense of pitch (I almost said perfect pitch but I'm not sure how that would work) and it seems that it may have opened up another career path for her should she decide that concert musician isn't the life she wishes, service manager at a car dealership. It's now so quiet in the Forester I can hear myself think. Sadly, the silence is deafening.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 21, 2009

Norwich Meetings 21-26 September

This is a week of action and attraction across Norwich, with something for everyone and then some. Which is more than appropriate as it takes a lot of volunteers with a lot of different talents to lend a hand in a lot of different ways. But I want to skip to the very end of the week and mention it first, or I'll forget and that's sort of part of why it's being held in the first place I imagine.

This Saturday, the 26th, at 12:30 in the VFW Post 2212, 36 Pratte Avenue in Taftville will be a dedication of the upstairs ballroom in honor of PFC James "Jimmy" Greene who died during the Vietnam War over forty years ago. There's more information here, and I suspect Dennis B and his comrades would be honored by your presence.

I had a note during the week from Josh P (only two people I know wear St. Louis Cardinals ball caps and Pujols is taller; that's how I tell them apart) about meeting agenda not being required to be posted on line in accordance with Public Act 08-3 Sec. 11, Section 1-225 (c). His point is much appreciated since it means there's no legal requirement to post them on line, so I should stop carping about their absence. Point taken. It seems to me the Legislature could and should fix the loophole, between video poker sessions, as there's a lower cost per thousand in terms of reach and penetration for an online posting. Again I'm grateful for the clarification. Tony LaRussa says you're batting behind AP to give him some protection against left-handed pitchers.

This morning at nine at the Rose City Senior Center on Mahan Drive is a regular meeting of the Senior Affairs Commission. Actually it's their first meeting since May, and here's the minutes for that meeting. The members might want to see about getting their appointments on the commission extended as they've all expired (the appointments.....you get the idea).

One of the newspapers has a four o'clock meeting of the Design Review Board at 23 Union Street-a calendar entry not shared by the city's website. Should I point out the appointments for all the members ran out over four and half years ago, or that no minutes of any meetings are posted? Oh, I see; I did both.

At 4:30 in their offices at 10 Westwood Park is a regular meeting of the Norwich Housing Authority , who do a marvelous job of maintaining housing stock in the city for a variety of clients, with a limited amount of resources and I'd love to be able to tell you what else they do but, as continues to be the case, they have no minutes posted of any meetings. At least they're consistent.

The City Council meets at 7 tonight in Council Chambers in City Hall. For some, the decision on bonding for sewers for the Newton Street neighborhood will be of primary interest. Others may be more concerned about an issue that isn't on the agenda but has been in the newspapers, appointments to the Ethics Commission, not that this has ever stopped us (see last meeting's executive session, based on the folks who went into it, on the removal of taxable property from the Grand List by municipal purchase to build (with bonded money) a thirty to forty million dollar police station. Unless the Chief was there to talk about the YMCA, which is another project that lingers like Banquo's ghost). The season premiere of House starts at eight, gentlemen, so unless someone at the front of the room has a cane and a vicodin jones that won't stop, I'll be making my way home in time to catch Greg and Company because That's Entertainment.

Tuesday was, at first blush, a very busy day, but every meeting was cancelled. However, just being a cloud on a sunny day, perhaps, I'd note the Board of Assessment Appeals has NO meeting minutes of any kind. On the sunny side, the Harbor Management Commission has a postponement notice moving their meeting to next Tuesday, making it a special meeting. Both the Commissioners of the Board of Public Utilities and the Sewer Authority have August meeting minutes and a notice of cancellation for Tuesday's meetings.

You can request email notifications at http://www.norwichct.org/content/39/1324.aspx, but only for 'city office closings/delayed openings' and 'proposed/adopted city budget.' I would think a listserv could be developed to expand the choices so if, for example, you were interested in knowing about the previous meeting's minutes of the "Pony Rides for Kenny's Birthday (PR4KB)" Commission (or Agency; I haven't quite decided yet. See Wednesday's Sachem Fund workshop for possible funding sources), you could put a tick in a box and receive the minutes via email. Assuming the minutes were ever shared in the first place, which is, I suspect, where most of the disconnect seems to happen.

Wednesday afternoon at 5:30, it's a meeting (a newspaper calls it a workshop, but I don't understand the difference or the logic) of the Sachem Fund Board in Room 335. Part of their agenda is to approve the minutes of their previous meeting, from back in May and the rest has serious work outlined, to include review and possible revision of the entire grant application (and criteria) process as well as tracking who does what with the money they receive (which I had always thought was part of the funding process; so how has this been working all this time?).

Also at 5:30 at 23 Union Street it's a regular meeting of the Dangerous Buildings Board of Review whose August minutes aren't posted. But if you attend this meeting, and they spend a lot of time working with property owners across the city, at no additional cost, you'll also get two additional meetings: 21 West Thames Street Committee and the 751 North Main Street Committee. How can we do it at such a low, low price? VOLUME!!!

The Recreation Advisory Board meeting, normally on Thusday at six, will be at six on Wednesday at the Recreation Department office across from the tennis courts. I was less than surprised to see item four on their agenda-and wonder when the City Council agenda will reflect it, too (as soon as the votes are lined up, I'll bet.).

And at seven over on New London Turnpike at the Golf Course is a regular meeting of the Golf Course Authority whose August meeting minutes are here (revenues are down 40K over same period a year ago-not a good sign, for us as residents). Just me, or have you, too, noticed how often the municipal website has a space for 'agenda' even though there's no requirement for them?

At eight o'clock Thursday morning in their offices at 77 Main Street it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation who don't even get a spot on the city's listing of advisories, agencies, boards, commissions and committees (heck, the Ethics Review Committee is still listed! We were finished after turning in our final report on 17 March 2008). That's where the meeting minutes would be posted, but aren't. They're (probably) available by dropping a note to BobMills@ncdevcorp.org, who sends them to me whenever I ask (he's not so good with pony rides, but then again who is?) who will probably do the same for you.

Thursday night at seven, in, respectively, Room 108 (the really old courtroom with the goofy floor plan) and Room 335, (the less really old courtroom with lousy acoustics) are meetings of the Republican and Democratic Town Committees. I think both Town Committees would regard themselves as partisan political activities (sort of their point, they'd say and they'd be right) which I'm not sure is the highest possible use for a city building especially....

Since I've heard a story about a citizen who wished to use a room in City Hall (not so partisan, in my opinion)to sponsor a mayoral debate, Room 335 as a matter of fact. The request was denied because of 'a lack of a sound system, a shortage of adequate seating and an absence of suitable parking'. None of which seems to deter the two primary political parties-what troopers!!

Proving yet again "Oh a whirling dervish, and a dancing bear. Or Ginger Rogers and a Fred Astaire. Or a teenage rocker or the girls in France, Yes, we are all partners in this cosmic dance." And in the end, we've got to dance with the one that brung us.
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Signs & Wonders

We're getting to that season, not just here in God's Little Corner known as the Rose of New England, Norwich, Connecticut, but in your neighborhood, too, where the only space on your front lawn NOT covered by autumn leaves will have a sign urging others to vote for a specific candidate for City Council, Mayor, member of the Board of Education (insert the titles of your town's elected offices here: ____).

Every two years, I'm overcome by a desire to pop a Literacy Volunteer right in the beezer. And don't get me started on the folks in the little wire frame leg business so the sign guys have some place to put the sign. All you had to do was ask me-I could've told you where to stick them. Now that I live in New England, barely but it counts, I find myself wondering what Sam Huntington (nope, this one) would have made of all of this-or Benedict Arnold for that matter. Both are considered Norwich Native Sons, though we're all a little ambivalent about Benny (poor form that changing sides in the midst of a War of Independence and all).

I'm still waiting for debates-between and among the candidates for Mayor (their websites are to your right) as well as among all of those running for City Council (I undercounted by one last week and I apologize, again, for my math) and, how about the Board of Education candidates, come to think of it. When was the last time we heard a debate among those folks?

Don't get me wrong, I fully support the notion advanced a long time that there's no such thing as a Republican or a Democratic Party method to educate third graders (the non carrying of President Obama's remarks to school children in some districts to the contrary), but here in Norwich, the operating budget for the Board of Education is in excess of 50% of the entire City of Norwich's budget.

We had a City Council this year have to make decisions on policemen versus firemen versus building inspectors versus infrastructure repairs versus long-delayed pension contributions, etc, because of the reduced revenue stream and ongoing rise in municipal expenses. The Board of Education had to make decisions that changed, and not to the good, the size of classrooms and course offerings for middle schoolers, among other unhappy choices.

I'd like to hear what those whom we choose as members of the Board of Education think the priorities should be, and learn a bit more about what, if any, ideas for economies and/or enhancements (and how to pay for them) they wish to advocate during their tenure. The first candidate who wants to organize the children for weekend redeemable-can-and-bottle drives to pay for field trips and administrator salary increases, I will applaud unreservedly (using your hands if necessary) knowing he or she will not get a second vote. I was obviously trying to be humorous with that observation, though you may have only gotten the trying part.

But right now, with less than seven weeks until Election Day, there's NOT a debate by anyone, anywhere on the horizon in Norwich and there should be one once a week, at least, everywhere around here (and where you live, too, though that's more your business than my concern) because we (here) have the blessings of choice and need to know as much as we can about the neighbors who have offered their time and talents in our service. Our gratitude for their generosity of spirit will be replaced, sadly, soon enough by anger (immediately) after their election because of their obstinacy and short-sightedness when they dare to NOT see things the same way we do.

I added a website to your right, Voice for Votes (and set it to Norwich, hope you don't mind too much), and it may have to do until we get this debate thing sorted out. It's okay but not ideal. Three of the four mayoral candidates are asked five questions (as I understand it five questions the candidates 'suggested'). Were I to seek office and have this tool in my arsenal, I might have asked myself, 'if you could be any fish in the ocean, which one and why?' (even though that's technically two questions. I like to push the envelope). Actually, some of the questions are quite good but the answers seem to be a bit more glittering and general than suits my taste.

Here's my point (thanks for reading along this far hoping, but no longer believing, I might actually have one): in Norwich, there are already close to one hundred and fifty lawn signs (I've counted) for various candidates seeking office. Bravo and well-done. But let's consider that there are three "for sale" signs for every one political lawn sign. We'll need boxcars of fallen leaves from trees the size of California Redwoods to cover the damage being done to the fabric of our neighborhoods in this city everyday. And I think we'll have to have live debates before anyone has to answer the question: what are you doing to do to stop it?
-bill kenny

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy TLAPD

(If you read the title backwards you can hear John Lennon say 'cranberry sauce'. Actually, no, you can't.) It's Talk Like A Pirate Day and if you want to feel humble, feel this: there are twenty nine MILLION mentions of TLAPD 2009 found on google in 0.11 seconds.

I learned that, despite what I'd always thought, Dave Barry the humorist did NOT invent TLAPD, but, rather, stumbled upon it and, in the manner of John the Baptist, went everywhere speaking of it, and yet managed to keep his head, though only half of his household goods as Florida is a community property state.

If you come across a piece of seven, or eight, encounter a parrot wearing an earring, or have a relationship with, or are yourself named, Peg, I'm grateful you've played along and hope if you weren't a big winner, you did get a lovely play at home game.

No other nation on earth invents holidays like we do, and Talk Like A Pirate Day may be our crowning achievement. I don't think there are cards out for it, yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn otherwise. There's very likely few organized parades, but if ever a holiday lent itself to floats and marching bands, this would be it, so get those Drillmasters polished up and gleaming and make sure you have enough page protectors for the sheet music.

And remember, we could have used this technology for something good. Thankfully, we opted for something great.
-bill kenny

Friday, September 18, 2009

Foul Weather Fowl

I was carpooling with my daughter, Michelle, Tuesday morning. She was in need of a ride, as I mentioned the other day, because someone decided this past Sunday morning her car would look better elsewhere and stole it from in front of our house. As if her mother and I don't have enough difficulty getting her to come home weekends from Eastern (Connecticut State University).

The car is a 1995 Mitusbishi Mirage, SE, with a 1.6 liter engine and a five-speed transmission. It's light green and has a hundred and eighty thousand miles on it (maybe the guys who make that gum bought the car company and this is part of the new car sales campaign). She used to call it her Peggy Sue or perhaps Post Script, with an "O" in the middle (I believe that was what she meant) but she felt differently Sunday morning.

Each of us took turns standing in the spot where the car had been in front of the house as if we were about to bend the laws of physics and stand where the object that was no longer there had previously been, and were amazed that we couldn't do that. Crime is something we read about in the newspaper or happens to people we know, but not us. Sometimes we forgot that for the people we know, we are the people they know.

We were driving back to Eastern on 87 (I think; I'm not good at math), past the llama farm. There's so many, it could be a factory, now that I think about it. I always expect to see the Andes Mountains. I don't ever smell Llama dung--when you drive past a dairy farm, you can smell cow stuff, right? What's the deal with the Llamas (and maybe a few alpacas, I'm not sure)? Michelle is very knowledgeable about animals but even she can't answer my llama question.

Somehow we got off on a tangent. I blame the car. She was explaining that throughout nature there are compensations in the animal kingdom. While we think of birds as animals who fly, she said, there are penguins and ostriches who can't fly (but are still birds). Instead they have marvelous abilities as swimmers and runners to compensate. Carrying that a bit farther, she mentioned the turkey farm in Lebanon (not this one, this one) with a corn field in the center of the fenced-in area so the birds have someplace to hide at night when they sleep because car headlights disturb them. Like we need Thanksgiving turkeys with sleep apnea.

As we drove along she noted that neither chickens nor turkeys could actually fly and in light of earlier remark about trade-offs, she wondered what compensations came into play for them. Attempting to be helpful, I offered that both tasted delicious. The silence was just becoming uncomfortable when we arrived at her dorm and our time together ended. I was going to offer her a fatherly insight on the kiwi, but then realized she spends so much time in sneakers that shoe polish references are closer to pointless than Dr Kimble ever got to the one-armed man.
-bill kenny

Thursday, September 17, 2009

End of the Season

This is the last summer weekend of 2009, which comes as a shock, I suspect, to millions of the nation's schoolchildren who've been back to the academic grindstone for weeks now and are already looking forward to the Thanksgiving break.

Back when I was a wee slip of a lad, summers seemed to go on forever. We used to spring out of bed to better get a head start on doing absolutely nothing until late in the afternoon when, with a little luck, a marathon baseball game would break out on the dirt field up the street from the Girard's house. No one kept score and nobody cared who won or lost. Players would come and go for hours, heading home for dinner or to go shopping with Mom and then return hours later sometimes having to be on the other team.

Usually what we did, depending on how good the player returning really was might be that he would have to wait to rejoin the game until another player showed up to balance him out. Mid-inning trades were also not unknown. The games went on until the daylight was dying or, more correctly, had died and then Mr. Girard would back his car out of the carport and turn the headlights on to wash over the field so we could wrap it finally (until tomorrow when it began again).

We did this for years until someone bought the lot and built a house on it. We all hated the people who moved in to live there. And, much later, when the house burned down, I felt a twinge of guilt even though I had nothing to do with what happened-the power of wishing and its consequences, I guess.

As I got older the summers got shorter and when our Pat and Mike were smaller it was fun to watch the cycle begin again with them. We're weeks away from the 'leaf peeping' that everyone associates with New England weekends in the fall. But for me, it's already too late. I hate autumn-I can smell the scent of all things dying even before they actually do and I'm left with memories of the summer to get me through the winter into the following spring. Enjoy what you have, while you have it.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another empty gesture

I've mentioned more than once that I am child of Rock and Roll. I had no older brothers or sisters, so my first music was my parents' but when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" came out of the car radio, and Dad reached for the off switch, I was hooked for life and probably beyond. I note this because as much as I can quote rock music the way others offer passages from the Bible, I've never had any illusions as to what else it is or what else it can (and cannot) do.

Many years ago, National Lampoon's Radio Dinner skewered George Harrison and The Concert for the People of Bangladesh with a running gag about how the 'kid on the album cover' was now a student enrolled at Harvard. Their point, through the smoke and coughing, was, I think, sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and while we do want to go to heaven, just as sincerely, we do not want to die.

I'm not sure how many of us paid attention to Nat Lamp. Live Aid was an achingly beautiful idea driven by the sincere and completely obnoxious, "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?" I cringe watching that video clip and wonder to this day, 'who are these people? And what the heck happened to their hair?' But I remember watching all of it live in our apartment in Offenbach am Main with friends, as we spent hours moving from one apartment to the next having a wonderful time, thinking we were doing something for all those starving in Africa about whom we knew absolutely nothing and--HURRY UP Paul McCartney is on!

We weren't helping anyone, most especially among us that champion poser Phil Collins, a regular guy really (take my word for it), who boarded a Concorde after performing at Wembley and flying to the USA so he could play on stage outdoors in Philadelphia. Talk about contradiction- we were oblivious to it! And can you blame us? We were saving the world. Speaking of the orb, can we agree to skip over the "USA for Africa" response, "We Are the World"? Long before I had any idea as to who Kanye West was (hint: almost rhymes with El Paso), I feared he'd show up even there.

There was the telethon for New Orleans after Katrina (come to think of it, Kanye was out of the box then as well wasn't he? And Beyonce was years away from puttin' a ring on it. As for Taylor Swift, two words: pre school) and even low-profile benefit records like Miami Steve's musical boycott of Sun City (and again, Bruce is YELLING?!), the list goes on and all of them are just awful music, really. You hoped I wouldn't even mention the benefit record from our friends in Canada, the Northern Lights. Hope is a good thing, innit?

I thought that whole 'let's sing something, anything, and get people to buy it because it's noble and we'll all feel better' trend was over. It seemed to have skipped the current generation-I mean what are they going to do, a benefit ringtone concert? Turns out, have no fear! Older, a little longer in the tooth, punchier in the paunch and lighter along the hairline, my generation is back.

This time we've got Earth in the Balance and we're here to reverse global warming. I don't even want to calculate how much energy was consumed and how big a carbon footprint was produced to drive the recording sessions that's a remake of Midnight Oil's Beds R Burnin'. I know, a sing along? And why not? You want the lyrics, too? You do realize after you turn off the lights to save energy you won't be able to read them. On the other hand, while you'll sound awful, undoubtedly, you'll look exactly like Ray Charles. As viewed from space. Uh-huh.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mr. Barnum's Stopwatch

With all the screaming and shouting (a/k/a 'negotiating') that's gone on here in The Nutmeg State since 1 July, when we were supposed to start the state's new fiscal year and some ten days ago when the State Legislature and the Governor finally devised a means of creating a budget, I smiled when I fell across this item the other day in "America's oldest continuously published newspaper" (though in recent years they've forgotten the point of why), the Hartford Courant.

For those who think it's the purest of coincidences that P. T. Barnum is a native son of Bethel, Connecticut, this is your 2009 wake up call. And, I suspect with a little luck, and (of course) a separate fee, you'll be able to get a special license plate celebrating this realization.

Our new motto in The Land of Steady Habits is "It's All About the Benjamins" as our recently enacted state budget is, in many areas, says freshman legislator Chris Coutu, little more than a wish sandwich--and we may also be light on those two slices of bread.

I'm terrible with money, ask my creditors, but even I get sweaty palms when I look at math that adds revenues from yet-to-be collected taxes to profits from the sale of not-yet-identified public buildings to unspecified and possibly imaginary purchasers with all the proceeds (plus the profits) of the State Lottery which were already going to the General Fund and roll all of them together with every dollar in the "Rainy Day" fund to (we hope) produce a balanced budget. Phew!

Of course what we'll do at the next budget cycle, aside from a Hail Mary pass, is now somebody elses' problem. The trick is not to be in the state house or the Governor's mansion when the next cycle arrives. I think there are a lot of voters, right now, across the State who are willing to help make that happen.

What the Courant article doesn't make clear to me is, if after 1 October, the Save the Sound and/or Greenways and/or Wildlife special license plates will no longer be sold at all or if just the money collected for them will be 'repurposed.' If you've lived here for more than an hour you've probably already guessed just how forthcoming and forthright the disclosure on this fiscal sleight of hand will probably be.

We're not talking a lot of money here, really. In the face of an almost thirty-eight Billion (with a B) dollar budget for the next two years, it's not even pin money. And, hand on your heart, how many more seagulls should we need to worry about and how do we even know they're day trippers from maybe Long Island or Rhode Island (did you smell coffee milk tinged with mackeral?)?

Point in fact, much of the Connecticut shoreline on the Long Island Sound is private property anyway, and even those with the special license plates can't have access to it. The only time the rest of us have anything to do with the shoreline is after hurricane season when someone is sought to help pay for repairs and rebuilding (usually on exactly the same spot where the damages all happened in the first place).

Let's hope The Barnum Museum withstands this hurricane season, at least through Saturday, to help observe Talk like a Pirate Day. Some of us will have to work on our accents, since we sound an awful lot like like legislators from Wethersfield, well, except for the license plates of course.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rose City Meetings Preview (14-18 September)

Probably true at your house too.
The post-Labor Day routines are firmly in place now. If they're still at home, the kids are doing that going to school thing pretty much on auto-pilot. You're back on a regular schedule at work-not a lot of need to ask for time off for the upcoming holiday weekend since Columbus Day is a whole month (!) away and perhaps in your neighborhood, too, the fall election season is starting to pick up the pace a bit.

Meanwhile back within 'many hands make light work' except in The Netherlands where it's 'Maybe Hans might Verk' this week ahead in municipal meetings in Norwich, we have two today that are actually three.

At five, in Room 209 of City Hall it's the Volunteer Firefighters' Relief Fund Committee and there's no need to look for a meeting agenda or minutes of previous meetings on the city's website as they're not there. See? That didn't hurt much. And it's just a start-maybe each of us can write a list of state laws we find burdensome or unnecessary and just stop following them? To be honest, around here it looks like some of us already have that list.

At 5:30 in Room 319 of City Hall is a meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Norwich State Hospital Site Development. Technically, all of their meetings are 'special' even when they're regular (this gets complicated and suffice it to say it has to do with who was notified when of what, and leave it at that). I only mention it because, technically, since it is a special meeting ONLY those items on the agenda can be discussed-not there's a lot of tangents and meanderings in room 319 (it's a pretty small room, after all).

Neither the agenda nor any of the August meeting minutes are on the city's website. Both are available by dropping a note to BobMills@ncdevcorp.org, who shares them with me and will, I'm sure, share with you as well. This former mental hospital site, straddling both Norwich and Preston, regardless of whether Norwich buys its section or not, is and will be important in the coming years, and I'm impressed with the energy and industry with which these community volunteers are going about their researching.

The third event on Monday is NOT, technically a meeting, it's called the "United for Victory" Campaign Kick-off (to coincide, sort of, with the Patriot's season-opener) at seven at the Taftville Volunteer Fire Department, and featuring a meet and greet with the candidates endorsed by the Norwich Democratic Party, for Mayor, City Council and Board of Education (Based on the age of the content of the site. it's too bad we're not electing a Webmaster).

Also invited are the region's representatives to Hartford, State Representative Melissa Olson and State Senator Edith Prague (I have no idea why her photo is looking off screen instead of onto the content, unless it's a portent we should be heeding). Hartford as you may or may not know is where we keep the state government locked up in a great big beautiful building with a golden dome, and, based on their most recent budget, with very little oxygen.

Much like last Saturday's Republican Party together across town, it's a chance to kick the tires, a little bit (NOT literally, I think) of our neighbors who have offered to run for office. If they're kind enough to offer, we should be gracious enough to listen to them.
I'm looking forward to the next phase of this fall's local election, which should be, shortly an announced schedule of debates between and among all those seeking office (and cannot come soon or often enough to suit me).

Tuesday is jammed. Starting off the late afternoon is a regular meeting of the Public Parking Commission, at 5:15 in the Buckingham Memorial building, almost across from the Post Office. It would appear they didn't meet in August (I was about to make a 'it was too hard to park' joke and thought better of it, but only just). Here's their July meeting minutes

At five thirty in the Latham Science Center, Room 609, is a regular meeting of the Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees. NFA is the high school for a number of Eastern Connecticut towns and communities, Norwich included, and, especially at budget time for many residents and local board of education and elected leaders, it's often viewed as The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla. That "Yes, We Have No Bananas" is reported to be their fight song doesn't help.

At six, in Room 319 of City Hall, is a regular meeting of the Personnel and Pension Board. In light of the continuing disquiet in the world's financial markets, and the role these volunteers play in the lives of so many of Norwich's previous, current and potential employees, we are fortunate they approach their task with the devotion and diligence they do. Here's their meeting agenda and I have selfish reasons to hope for a positive update of item B, section III, though I've heard 'that ship has sailed' (a very bad 350th joke? Perhaps).

At seven o'clock a large number of eyes and minds could be in Council Chambers of City Hall (relocated from its regular meeting site) for a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan. The interest is precipitated by two items (you can read more here) but I'm only comfortable talking about one of them: a development project, Byron Brook, that started over three years ago and was vetted as something to which it now bears little resemblance in its most recent incarnation, which disquiets a not inconsiderable number of residents.

There's neither an agenda for Tuesday's meeting nor minutes from August's posted on the City's website. Lots of people think they are going to attend in order to voice their concerns about Byron Brook-few of those people are actually on the Commission. The rest in attendance may be surprised and perhaps disappointed. The meeting agenda is the road map and I assume will be available, per Connecticut state statute, at the meeting itself. Happy motoring

Also at seven, 'at a location to be determined' (there's a phrase that doesn't sound reassuring), is a regular meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone. No, there are no minutes of their previous meeting(s), nor an agenda, on the city's website and some of us, attempting to frequent businesses in the Chelsea district during the early evening hours might even suggest there's not much of a downtown, but that may be more unkind an observation than is called for.

There's a pair of early morning meetings on Wednesday. The first, at 8:30, in their building in the Norwich Business (more or less) Park, is a regular meeting of the full council of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Government. I didn't find any agenda or minutes of previous meetings, but I'm dealing with their absence relatively well.

At nine, in the Dime Bank's Community Room (the bank is on Salem Turnpike (Route 82), is a regular meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First). And if you hear the strains of bouzouki music and smell the aroma of Dorchester cheese, that's because seeking any agenda or meeting minutes is, well, pointless and a deliberate waste of your time.

There are but a few immutables in the universe, and I suppose the Children First website is now on that list. Perhaps the candidate for City Council who mentions his affiliation with it at every occasion will take the lead on repairing the years of neglect an important communication tool is suffering after his organization seems to have forgotten all about it.

There are two meetings of note Thursday, and the first one makes me smile-actually, it's the government structure surrounding it that provokes the grin. At five the Historic District Commission meets in Room 210 of City Hall-but go back to the link and scroll down to below the ordnance that created the commission and note when the city's website says the meetings are....the third Tuesday of every month. This is probably their first meeting since June, whose draft minutes are right here, because why meet in the summer time unless you're at the beach or in the mountains. Did you notice when June 18 was? That's right, a Thursday-- just like every meeting of the Historic District has been for the entire year. So much for Tuesday, which is a great name for a power pop band, doncha think?

Capping the week and also meeting at five o'clock is a regular meeting of the Ice Rink Authority in their conference room over in their facility on New London Turnpike. Guess what's not on the municipal website? You're getting very good at this-I guess that's from all the practice, sadly.

We're under sixty days until Election Day here in Norwich, and I suspect, where you live, too. Around here, we have an embarrassment of riches with four people seeking the office of Mayor, and twelve people from three separate parties (six from theDemocratic Party, three members of the Republican Party and three nominees from the Norwich for Change Party) for six seats on the Norwich City Council. Only a certain number of alderpersons can be from the same party though that's of only academic interest to two of the parties involved.

I hope where you live you have the luxuries of choice as well, and find a chance to thank all those seeking office (even the ones you won't be voting for) for sharing their time and talents. We are, someone once suggested to me, the Crown of Creation not only because of who we are, but because of what we do--no other species on Earth can remake, or break, the world. It all starts locally, and it begins with each of us.
-bill kenny