Monday, June 14, 2010

Small Packages, Good Things

Did you ever read that disclaimer on the side of a box of crackers or dry cereal-'sold by weight and not by contents'-to help explain why there's two inches of air between the Cap'n Crunch and the top of the box? (and that the folks who sell these products don't want us to realize that they're putting less in the boxes, but also noting that on the weight marker. The same box that had sixteen ounces in it two years ago, has fourteen point five now and costs thirty eight cents more.) Let's hear it for supply and demand.

This week's meeting calendar in Norwich is a little like that-seemingly not a lot of activities, but the ones that are going on more than make up in volume and impact what they lack in total number.

This afternoon at five, in Room 210 of City Hall, is a regular meeting of the Ethics Commission who, based on reading their May minutes have completed work on the Citizens' Guide and will, I suspect in the coming months, be doing what they can to make sure all levels of the city government, supervisors, department heads, employees and those doing business with Norwich have a full grasp of the meaning and import of ethics and propriety in all official business. In order to put an end to the nudge, nudge, wink, wink of small town government doings, everything needs to be clear and clean. Thanks to the Ethics Commission, a start has been made. Let's see where all of us decide to take this.

At 7:30, in Council Chambers, it's a special (or regular, depends on whose reading the statute) meeting of the City Council to adopt a budget for the fiscal year beginning 1 July 2010. There have been weeks and weeks of hearings, and opportunities to call or write the alderpersons and quite frankly not everyone will go home happy tonight. Sometimes doing the right thing isn't doing the popular thing-and despite what some have been murmuring about turning the corner and things looking up, I fear fiscally things will get a lot worse before they get a little better. Welcome to the Seven Lean Years, and I'm your host, Alistair Cooke.

Tuesday at five thirty in the Latham Science Center on the campus of Norwich Free Academy, is a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees-and not for the first time, let me point out that even if you don't have children in NFA, decisions made by their Board in terms of programs offered and increase expenses come back to Norwich taxpayers in a number of ways. So while ignorance may be bliss, but let's not overdose on happiness, okay?

Later at six in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Personnel and Pension Board. Following it, at seven, more or less next door in the basement conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street is a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan, whose agenda, as is usually the case, is filled with the actual intricacies of advancing intelligent development while also preserving a sense of the city. A balancing act a lot easier said by large working groups making broad pronouncements than done by small groups of volunteers in basement rooms on Tuesday nights.

Wednesday morning at nine in The Dime Bank's Community Room is a regular meeting of Children First, whose website suggests they may do wonderful and marvelous things for all manner of people under the sun, but which is so hopelessly outdated and badly maintained as to be completely useless. Meaning well and doing well are often confused for one another by those who should know better.

At seven Wednesday night at Three Rivers Community College is slated to be a debate among the three Republicans, Daria Novak, who won the party endorsement at the Republican convention last month, Doug Dubitsky, and Janet Peckinpaugh, each seeking to replace Joe Courtney as representative from the 2nd Congressional District. I confess to knowing so little about each of them that I had to double check the spelling of their names, so the horizon is pretty wide-open on my part in terms of an open hearing.

And Thursday afternoon, at four in the central office of the Norwich Public Schools in the John Mason Building across from the Norwichtown Green, is a special meeting of the Board of Education to map the way ahead, based on the adopted City Council Monday evening, for the 2010-2011 school year. Sometimes there's more education going on outside the classroom than inside-and being schooled can take on a whole new meaning.

That's a quick snapshot of meetings of import in the Rose City. If you live here, you're a shareholder and have not only a right to an informed decision but an obligation to make one. Government is a team sport so get off the bench and on to the field.
-bill kenny

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