Monday, October 11, 2010

Ten Thousand Craters Where It All Should Be

Greetings from Columbus, Ohio, inventors of today's US Holiday, honoring an event half of us have conceded didn't technically happen while the other half find it macabre we celebrate the genocide that they feel colonization of the New World represents. Others just want to know 'would you like to come over for tea, with the missus and me?" But for those more civic-minded among us, we have a raft of meetings and opportunities for involvement right here in The Rose of New England.

The Ethics Commission holds a regular meeting this afternoon at five in Room 210 of City Hall. Reading through their September meeting minutes, the Commission is continuing to refine the actual Ethics Code and more effectively define the scale and scope-though the argument might be made that it's Corporation Counsel who's been doing a lot of that rather than advising the Commissioners on it.

At five thirty in the Samuel Huntington School, it's a regular meeting of the Board of Education-and they'll be meeting in Huntington through the rest of this year, as construction continues in Kelly Middle School, where the Board normally holds its meetings. As a parent who had two children in the Norwich Public Schools for a number years (and all involved are happy that's over with), I was surprised to read in the September meeting minutes there was NO public comment by anyone during the meeting. Bet that will NOT be the case as the Board struggles to develop a budget for next year as this winter approaches. I also wonder who maintains all the IT equipment, both purchased and donated, throughout the schools, both in the classroom and in the offices and if that's an area where collaboration across Norwich might not result in some significant savings.

The Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee meeting listed in one of the newspapers is NOT happening at all. But at seven, in the basement meeting room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street, is a regular meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals. A quick review of their September meeting minutes, suggests that a lot of the 'big picture' items we worry about (in any city) are actually many much smaller brush strokes, to include items like variances to allow a homeowner to add garage, and that's why it takes so many volunteers in so many areas to build an entire city or town. When we say 'the city government' we need to remember we're really talking about ourselves and our neighbors.

Wednesday afternoon, says a newspaper, at 4:30, is a regular meeting of the Housing Authority-there's NO mention of it on the city's website (though it's slated for the second Wednesday of each month) but there's no minutes or agenda from any of their meetings at all. Puts a whole new "O" in Open government, and I'll bet you can guess the word that goes with that vowel.

At six, in Room 210, is a regular meeting of the Norwich Baseball Stadium Authority-the note on the city's website is for a twenty-three hour meeting that happened in August it seems. And I always thought the NBSA wouldn't stand for long meetings (literally), speaking of which, the most recent meeting minutes on the city's site are from June. "O."

Also at six, in Greenville's Wonder Bar, is a regular meeting of the Greenville Neighborhood Revitalization Committee. Most recent set of meeting minutes, with an "e" after the "n" in Greeneville, are from March, so that means this must be April, right? Otherwise, "O."

And at seven, in the American Ambulance offices (the meeting rotates monthly) is a regular meeting of the Public Safety Committee. Their most recent meeting minutes, and let's remember this is a sub-committee of the City Council, are from January (the minutes say2009, but I hope that's NOT correct). Sometimes "O" just doesn't capture the depth of the dismay....

Thursday at five, not listed on the city's website, but noted by a newspaper, is a meeting of the Stanton School Bridges Parent Program. If you've a child in the school, or are a neighbor, you probably have a better feel for what this is all about and if you'd like to share, I'd be grateful for the additional knowledge.

If you thought I'd close without climbing up on my soapbox to preach from the Gospel on the importance of voting in next month's elections (three weeks and a day away), sorry; maybe next week (not). Wherever you live, you have the opportunities to be a light and not just a horn and voting is one of the more effective ways of making your voice heard (so is chartering a blimp and shouting through a megaphone from the gondola but it's not a good ideal in Lakehurst, NJ) and here in Norwich, I've talked a lot (too much say some) about the economic development bond questions on the ballot.

Here's why I get so engaged on those issues and you can probably guess my voting intentions. Yeah, "O." Take back the city for yourself tonight, and for all the days that remain.
-bill kenny

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