Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Your Former Glories and All the Stories

This is a holiday-shortened week for the municipal meeting calendar here in Norwich but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot going on or that you should sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by. That it will, without or without you, goes without saying-but if you're tired of living in a Catch-22 world where those in charge can do anything to you that you choose to not have the power to keep them from doing, be informed and then get engaged.

This afternoon at 5:30 in the Latham Science Center on the campus of the Norwich Free Academy it's a regular (but rescheduled from last Tuesday) meeting of the Board of Trustees. If you have children in NFA or your taxes go to paying your community's tuition bill for students enrolled in the school, you might want to pay close attention to the first presentation of the proposed 2011-2012 budget.

You have a choice at seven PM. There's a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan in the basement conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street (and there's still a vacancy for an alternate member, if you're so inclined).

Also at seven in City Hall, on the third floor in Council chamber is a presentation to the aldermen and alderwomen on the Norwich Education EXcellence for Today and Tomorrow's Schools (NEXTT). I attended one of these community meetings in early December (?) at Teachers Middle School and it lasted about ninety minutes. The City Council meeting is slated to start at 7:30, so good luck with the (abbreviated) presentation. My evil twin, Skippy, is thinking it could become six pounds of a substance he chooses to NOT name in a two pound sack. Awkward, very awkward.

Speaking of which, the Council's 7:30 regular meeting should be quite the session, at least if the agenda is any indication and not just for fans of the NFA Wildcat football team or for those who can't hear enough about Norwich history (as long as they don't have to do anything).

I'm a lot more interested in item two under public hearings, since I didn't fully understand, much less agree with, the decision made at the Council's first meeting of the year about changes in the pensions of volunteer firefighters. (My dictionary's definition of 'volunteer' offers a 'made without consideration' aspect we don't seem to have.) I don't know how many firefighters, paid and volunteer we have in Norwich, where they call home or even who might be able to tell me how many we need. After I know that maybe I can understand the idea behind the resolution on the agenda tonight and how it's of benefit to Norwich, but not now.

And speaking of not now John, wait until we get to item ten under 'new business.' It seems some of the Council got an earful and more this past Saturday, but I suspect the entire discussion hasn't yet played itself out. However, please remember you cannot complain about decisions at City Hall if you absent yourself from the Council meetings. Choosing not to decide is still a choice.

Probably just my sense of humor, but in light of goings on at Tuesday's City Council meeting about acquiring more failed real estate in downtown, I'm sorry I have to work Wednesday morning and can't attend the 7:30 Mayor's Meeting on Economic Development Strategy in Room 335 of City Hall. It would be very nice if the city's website had minutes from all of these weekly meetings but I'm not surprised there aren't any, though we could now translate them into a large number of languages.

Speaking of 'still no land' (and no minutes of past meetings), the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First) has its regular meeting starting at nine in the community room of The Dime Bank on Route 82. The only thing I've heard about local budgets as preparations continue, is that economic times will be even more grim than they were last year. Could Children First be an asset and/or an ally for our families? Maybe-if only we all had a better idea of what they do and what is needed to be done. Another lost opportunity.

I admire how the Housing Authority continues to pay no attention to requirements to have anything posted on the city's website, much less the approved minutes of their meetings. They have a regular meeting at 4:30 this afternoon in their offices at 10 Westwood Park, but you'll only know what's going on or has gone on if you attend. Public Act 08-3 be damned, or ignored.

A meeting of the Sachem Fund Board (I have NO idea how often it meets-and good luck figuring it out) is tonight at 6:30 in Room 335. Yeah, I know, the most recent item on the city's website is the draft minutes of the May meeting. I always thought the role of the Fund was to stimulate economic development as outlined in the ordinance that created it. Maybe the Board members should start there before deciding if a new mission statement is needed.

Thursday evening at six, in their meeting room at The Rink on New London Turnpike, it's a regular meeting of the Ice Arena Authority whose meeting minutes, at least as posted on the city's website, seem to have started to melt. And no, I have no idea why the August 2010 minutes are posted where they are on the website. Perhaps we might have a contest for most creative explanation? First prize is a free year's membership at the Norwich YMCA. Second prize is two memberships...I suspect we can't afford any more free giveaways, especially since we've pretty much given everything away already.

If you'd like to help take it back, pick a meeting and find your passion before the dust covers everything and everyone.
-bill kenny

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