Monday, April 12, 2010

City Streets, Beats and Elites

Lots of serious meetings across Norwich this week, and more than a few cancellations as well, suggesting sometimes we get a little too busy to be productive (though I have no idea what that's like).

The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Government, SCCOG, has a special meeting this morning at eight in their offices in the Norwich Business Park, though after last Monday's City Council vote on their property tax exemption request I'll be curious to see how much longer that building remains occupied. As I've noted before, there's a lot of good to be derived from regionalization, though many local communities often see only what they might lose in terms of authority and autonomy rather than what they could gain in efficiencies and economies. We move effortlessly from win/win to lose/lose without ever realizing it.

At 4:30 in the Kelly Middle School library, there's a (regular?) meeting of the Board of Education Budget Expenditure Committee (not a happy task serving on that committee in recent years, I know) and of course all the headlines in the newspapers in the last two weeks suggest this meeting will not be a laugh-fest either, though I would point out the 25 March meeting minutes are far more opaque than transparent for my taste (and which meetings are special meetings and which ones regular? It's impossible to tell but important to know).

And while the Ethics Review Commission regular meeting has been cancelled, as a consolation prize (of sorts) at 7:30 in Council Chambers it's the first public hearing on the City Manager's proposed budget. You can download a copy here or look at it (I suspect) in the City Clerk's office in City Hall, or perhaps at the Otis Library (Just don't ask about getting a coffee because we "choose not to answer"that question. Pegged the arrogance meter, at least for me).

If you can't make the meeting (I'm inclined to catch the new episode of House mainly because I've already seen previous editions of the Budget Demolition Derby), you can share your thoughts with your alderpersons via email as their addresses are here as are their snail mail addresses as well. Or you can just complain, since that's worked out so well for so many years.

Tuesday there's a little of everything starting at 8:30 with a regular meeting of the Youth and Family Service Advisory Board in Room 335 of City Hall. The March 9 minutes are here and when you read them, it may help you get a better feel for the real life impact of budget constrictions and their stated and unstated costs. The minutes, by the way, note the next regular meeting is May 11, making me wonder, again, if this meeting Tuesday is a special meeting and if so, as is the case with ALL special meetings, the meeting notice must contain the agenda and only those items on the agenda can be discussed (no suspension of rules to allow departures or additions from the agenda are permitted).

At 5:30, the Board of Education meets in the Kelly Middle School library. I can offer you a February meeting agenda but no minutes for either February or March because when you get right down to it, rules are for people who don't know better and Public Act No. 08-3 is as nice an idea as the hands-free cell phone law that we all obey. Realizing funding for the next school budget is of critical import, I wonder if a fine for violating CT's FOIA statutes is affordable.

Simultaneously with the Board of Education's meeting, in the Latham Science Center on their campus, the NFA Board of Trustees will hold a regular meeting.

At seven, in the basement conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals whose March 9th meeting minutes are "N/A." I'm always curious at how people who enforce their own rules relate to the rules of others, but I'm developing a sense for it, after all this time.

Wednesday starts with a quarter to nine meeting of Rehabilitation Review Committee in the 2nd floor conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street. The committee is still working to enhance and enlarge the lead paint abatement programs for all residents, as outlined in their March meeting and are exploring new means to address old communications problems.

At two in the afternoon is a regular meeting of the Southeastern CT Regional Resource Recovery Authority though where that meeting might be isn't the easiest thing in the world to figure out, perhaps by design. You can always contact them, though I'm trying to resist the temptation to check out either the Trash Museum and/or the Garbage Museum (and yes, they are in two different locations). Smells like a Road Trip. Well, actually it smells like something else, too.

There's a three-thirty meeting in the Buckingham School of the Norwich Public Schools Building and Space Committee (not the folks who gave the astronauts Tang, the other space). Kidding aside (that previous remark was a joke) according to their own website, the meeting must be a special meeting unless it's already May.

At 4:30 in their offices at 10 Westwood Park, it's a regular meeting of the Housing Authority who have yet, even one time, to comply with Public Law No. 08-3 since its adoption. At six, in Room 210, it's a regular meeting of the Baseball Stadium Authority. Now that the Connecticut Tigers are on board, perhaps some attention can be turned to posting meeting minutes as it's not exactly December of 2009 anymore (the most recent 'draft' minutes on line).

Also at six, in the interests of inclusiveness, I'll mention a meeting of the Greenville Neighborhood Revitalization Committee though the where and when are mysteries not revealed in any way on the city's website, so their secrets are safe. And at 6:30 in Room 335 of City Hall is a special meeting of the Sachem Fund, whose regular meeting was almost lost in the flood last week.
In reviewing the October 2009 meeting minutes, the last time the Fund met (?), I was struck by an application deadline of 1 March (2010) for those applying for this year's funds. I mention this because in the last two weeks there's been newspaper reports about various city and private sector agencies, in light of city budgeting shortfalls, applying to the Sachem Fund, but unless they did so six weeks ago before the deadline closed, fairness would dictate that's not an option. By its own schedule, the Fund should be reviewing its final selections.

Thursday at five in Room 319 of City Hall, is a regular meeting of the Historic District Commission, and their March meeting minutes suggest historic tourism may be starting to pick up momentum.

At six, it's a regular meeting of the Ice Arena Authority in the conference room at The Rink on New London Turnpike (plenty of parking for a Zamboni or macaroni in the back lot, one of which must have ended up parked on their March meeting minutes since they don't exist on line).

On Friday morning at ten, there's another special meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, SCCOG, who will meet with CT's Office of Policy and Management Secretary Robert Genuario, just in case there were any members who still didn't think the state had budget challenges of its own and would still be doling out the dollars as it always has.

There's hopefully lots of nice weather forecast this week, but don't let that be your excuse to not get and stay involved in what's going where we live. WE can make and keep Norwich a wonderful place to come home to, but it takes all of us to do it, and to do it everyday. See you at something.
-bill kenny

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