Monday, September 6, 2010

Local Government Works Even on Labor Day

We're a decade into the twentieth-first century and despite my advancing years, even I don't know what life was like in these United States a century ago, but here's one place that offers a snapshot of the decade in which the USA came of age. Most of the rest of the world celebrates the First of May as Labor Day-we use today to close the summer season and hold back to school sales. Sometimes Ruth is stranger than Bridget.

With a holiday-shortened week, a first glance at the municipal meetings calendar suggests The Rose City is buzzing with activities, as indeed it is, but that's more or less the case in the early part of the month, every month. Look at the calendar more as a souvenir snapshot of citizen involvement in the city we'd all like to live in.

Tomorrow night at six there's an informational workshop in City Council chambers, though neither the workshop nor its subject are on the municipal website's schedule (one of the newspapers has it listed). Rumor has it this is the presentation about pony rides for resident's birthdays. I'm bringing my own bale of hay, just in case. As you may suspect, I've got my own supply of sugar cubes from Owsley.

At seven-thirty, is a regular meeting of the City Council (today is a holiday so this meeting was scheduled to be tomorrow). On page one of the agenda, item four, new business, it's Counsel, not Council.

Wednesday morning at a quarter of nine, the Rehabilitation Review Committee which last met, I think, in May, holds its regular monthly meeting (I'll wait while you do the math. Time!) and if you think that's a little hinky, check out the meeting announcement on the city's website. Timeliness and accuracy are arriving somewhere, but not here.

The Housing Authority meeting listed for Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 has been cancelled.

At six o'clock in Room 210 of City Hall, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Baseball Authority, whose first year tenants, the Connecticut Tigers did themselves proud in their inaugural season both on the field and in the stands (though there's always room for more fans in the same way there's always room on the city's server for more current meeting minutes than June's. )

And at seven, in the Occum Fire House, it's a regular meeting of the Public Safety Committee, which I always thought consisted of three members of the City Council but seems to have had only two since its February meeting. The August meeting minutes mentions individual department after-action reports 'from the flood'. I'm wondering if this is a reference to the March flooding and, if so, why the reports are still not filed and the lessons learned shared among the first responders. Perhaps the minutes are referencing other, different and more recent flooding. Perhaps....

Thursday at noon, it's a special meeting by the Commission on the City Plan to review a request from the City Council for an abatement of property taxes on improvements as well as a waiver of building fees for the Ponemah Mills building. There's been a lot of talk about downtown economic development and the advantages and benefits it brings to all of us, downtown residents or not. I'm not sure, based on the developer's website, what anyone in Taftville, or anywhere else, is getting as a benefit from this request, but that will be a question we should ask if the City Council brings this to a vote at a subsequent meeting.

At 5:15 in Room 210 of City Hall, it's a regular meeting of the Mohegan Park Improvement and Advisory Committee, whose published minutes on the city's website are a bit scarce in recent months. And at six, on the Uncas Hospital campus, off of Roue 32, in the Campbell building it's a regular (or maybe other kind of) meeting of the Uncas Health District, whose own website has no mention of a meeting at all.

And finally, I think, at eight on Saturday morning, though it's not on the city's meeting calender yet, will be the a City Council Saturday Session, where (nearly) all the alderpersons will huddle with the leaders from various redevelopment agencies across the city to continue to develop a concerted and concrete plan of development that enhances municipal revenues as well as the quality of life across our communities.

It's a LOT harder to do this right than it looks, especially for those who don't (or can't be bothered to) attend any of these meetings. It's nice to see the small band of residents who do attend slowly growing larger and becoming more engaged and energized as the weeks go by. A city is more than bricks and mortar-it's all of us, individually and together. A little bit like the true reasons for Labor Day.
-bill kenny

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