Monday, March 8, 2010

Norwich Meetings 8-13 March 2010

It's sort of counter-intuitive-that as the weather (hopefully) turns nicer, we would have more reasons to spend time indoors helping or observing our neighbors as they work away in a dozen and more different outreaches in making a difference in how The Rose of New England blooms. And this week's calendar is an excellent example of 'we've got a meeting for that.'

This afternoon at five, there are two different meetings, a special meeting of the Volunteer Firefighters Relief Fund Committee in Room 209 of City Hall and upstairs in Room 335 is a regular meeting of the Ethics Commission who, reading their February meeting minutes are progressing on the Citizens' Guide.

At seven tonight, across town in the Central Fire House meeting room, is the second of the series of public comment sessions of the Charter review Sub-committee (sic) who are gathering comments from we, the people who live here, on our owners' manual.

I was one of the volunteers a decade ago who helped alter a not insignificant portion of the charter (whether the others on the committee felt I was helping was never a discussion topic at the time). I was impressed at the level of engagement so many neighbors had in sharing their thoughts and ideas with us. I hope we're still working to improve the process. I think, personally, a greater emphasis on pony rides for citizens' birthdays are in order, but this was a hard sell in the last century as well.

Tuesday morning at 8:30 in Room 335 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Youth Service Advisory Board. Reading through their January minutes (and those from 2009 as well) it's easy to see YSAB as one of the many bridges we build, and continue to build, to connect various and diverse populations across Norwich as they work to enlarge and enhance the shared frame of reference to develop ideas that address challenges facing us all.

At 5:30 Tuesday afternoon in the library at the Kelly Middle School is a regular meeting of the Board of Education (the February meeting minutes are not available on line) that will, I imagine, have citizen comment focusing on the proposed budget which economic exigencies are continuing to compress. It's part of a larger discussion we should be having across the city on increasing municipal revenue streams to avoid teachers vs cops, firefighters vs road paving discussions which is where we are right now.

What I'm still working on is, after the expansion of Kelly Middle School is completed (in 2012), how will we afford to do anything with the facility when we're living hand to mouth now. Comes a time, we'll be eating our own fingers, gloves and all. I also don't understand what happens to the initiative to lease/buy the YMCA and make it a community center and have the Norwich Public Schools pay for programs to be operated there, as a source of revenue for the center when the after-school sports programs have already been eliminated from the Board of Education's proposed budget.

Wednesday morning at 8:45 (who comes up with these times?) is a regular meeting of the Rehabilitation Review Committee, who had no meeting in February it would appear, though the reason doesn't, at least not on the website. Here's their January meeting minutes and there's an advocacy spirit, to my eyes, that speaks well of citizens seeing their local government as a means to solve problems that others, elsewhere, would do well to emulate. First chance the City Council gets, they might want to update the members' terms of appointment and bring them into the now.

At 4:30, in their offices at 10 Westwood Park, it's a regular meeting of the Housing Authority, who are consistent if nothing else. In terms of Public Act 08-3, and on-line posting of meeting minutes and other supporting documents, from their compliance, it could be just as easily be 1910 as 2010. Considering the continuing greying of the population of Norwich and the Housing Authority's role in the quality of life of many senior citizens, more effort is needed to assure that all residents, in general, and their target audience, most especially, have the information needed to develop a sense of purpose and perspective on their work and mission.

At six, in Room 210 in City Hall it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Baseball Stadium Authority whose compliance with Public Act 08-3 is a little south of Saginaw. Also at six, and not too far removed from that same city in Michigan in satisfying online public disclosure requirements, is the Greeneville Neighborhood Revitalization Committee whose meeting location is unknown to me, though I would hope not to its members, all of whose appointments expired last September.

At seven, in the Yantic Fire Department (the meetings rotate among the fire houses) is a regular meeting of the Public Safety Committee (Subcommittee of the City Council) whose minutes for their special meeting in February are here and make for some educational reading in terms of the scope of engagement on a variety of issues.

Thursday afternoon at 5:15 (it's nice to see that Wednesday morning quarter hour didn't go to waste, innit?) is a regular meeting in Room 210 of City Hall of the Mohegan Park Improvements and Development Advisory Committee who had no meeting in February, seemingly, but whose draft minutes from their January meeting are available.

Closing out a week of broad activities touching on many areas of municipal life and times, is another opportunity Saturday, from noon until two, to offer comments and suggestions for improvements on the City Charter as the Charter review Sub-committee (sic) meets in the training room of the Central Fire Department.

Every one involved in everyone of these advisories, authorities, boards, commissions and committees are deserving of our appreciation and support for helping shoulder some of the load when so many have so little time to share. We are all the better for their selflessness, and we would do well, if not better than I sometimes do, to remember that.

"Cause they know, and so do I/The high road is hard to find. A detour in your new life; Tell all of your friends goodbye."
-bill kenny

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