Monday, February 21, 2011

If You're Partial to the Night Sky

Happy Birthday to all Presidents, from George through Barack, since when we say today is Presidents' Day I'm assuming we mean ALL of them and not just the ones some of us like, some of the time. Democracy as a buffet! Like any of us would not head straight to the dessert cart. Not around here, Skippy; when you buy a ticket you get the whole ride. So if you have today off in observance of the holiday, you're part of the Presidents' Day Posse, instead of the other posse. And for that alone, I'm thankful and November's a long way off.

Because today is a holiday, the business of municipal government, at least here in Norwich, Connecticut, takes the day off but come tomorrow, Tuesday, we be jammin'. Though historically it's probably more likely yammin', beginning at five in the City Manager's office in City Hall for a regular meeting of the Harbor Management Commission.

Judging from the agenda, it looks like we're going to stop talking about making the Harbor a focal point downtown and actually do it. Finally. By the way, there's a vacancy on the commission, so if you're wondering 'when is somebody going to step up?' How about you and how about now? Time to put your application where your cursor is.

At six, across town in their offices at 16 Golden Street, it's a regular meeting of the Board of Norwich Public Utilities Commissioners followed by a regular meeting of the Sewer Authority.

And at seven-thirty, it's a regular meeting of the City Council whose agenda causes me to shake my head as much in amazement as dismay since we continue to have difficulties trying to outrun our own shadows.

I'm hard-pressed to say which discomfits me more, under "New Business": resolution two where we're going to lecture the President about Community Development Block Grant funding when it's the party controlling the House of Representatives who wants to tear up the formula; or resolution number four, about one of my favorite eyesores anywhere in the city and about which we've done nothing for what feels like forever.

Come early for the presentation by the Connecticut Tigers on what's in store for their second season at Dodd Stadium and, maybe just me who's curious, stick around for 'new buisness (sic)' and find out just who's interested in selling drugs and liquor at the same location. Put your hand down. It was a rhetorical question.

Wednesday morning, but NOT listed on the municipal calendar, at ten in Room 335 of City Hall is a regional meeting, sponsored by the Mayor's office, of leaders from across Southeastern Connecticut as well as state and national representatives to follow up on written suggestions on how the area can better position itself to take advantage of growing Chinese markets report, developed some time back by a delegation, led by Representative Rob Simmons, which visited the People's Republic of China. I would imagine one of those suggestions includes doing a better job of sharing information.
Wednesday afternoon at three-thirty, in the Central offices of the Norwich Public Schools is a regular meeting of the Board of Education Building and Space Committee (the goal is to have a Kelly Middle School auditorium on Mars by 2023, with colonization to follow). If you think going to the school's website to catch up on previous meeting minutes would be helpful, you might be correct except there's nothing there, again.

At four-thirty, helping underscore my cynical perspective on a well-known downtown eyesore, is a special meeting of the Board of Review of Dangerous Buildings about the same building the City Council will, theoretically, create a panel the previous evening to help market. According to the agenda, the meeting is in the building being discussed.

At seven at the course clubhouse, it's a regular meeting of the Golf Course Authority. There's also a note on the municipal calendar for a meeting of the 751 North Main Street Committee except that makes no sense to me because of the function and mission of that committee.

Thursday morning at seven-thirty, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation Board of Directors, who may well be processing the actions the City Council takes Tuesday night as part of their discussions in the course of their meeting.

There's also a regular meeting of the Board of Education's Policy Committee at 3:30 in their central office (I pretend to tell you there are no meeting minutes extant on the website and you can pretend to be surprised. Ready? Set, Go!)

Very slowly, and as far as I'm concerned far too slowly, interest and involvement in the workings of our municipal government is starting to increase. There's a lot to learn about in terms of meeting dynamics, flow of the agenda, the rate and pace of a particular advisory, board, commission or committee and its own perception of how it fits into the larger view of governance.

Some think part of our problem in recent decades around here has been the independent ops character of much of what we do when we try to work together. I can't pretend to disagree with that, though I'd like to try. Together, we are much better and smarter than we are alone-sometimes the last people to realize how much we need each other turns out to be us. "If it gets to be too much then, you can lend a helping hand." We need all the helping hands, and arms, legs, minds and hearts we can get. Thanks, in advance, for the use of yours.
-bill kenny

No comments: