Monday, March 7, 2011

Meeting Across the River and Elsewhere

This is a serious week of meetings in The Rose of New England with some potentially thorny situations surfacing as we get our 'public comment' on.

This afternoon at five in Room 209 of City Hall is a special meeting of the Volunteer Fireman's Relief Fund Committee for reasons that are a puzzlement, at least to me.

At seven in City Council Chambers is a presentation on a proposal to explore the possibility and feasibility of bringing passenger rail service to and through Norwich, perhaps via the Regional Intermodal Transportation System. Let's try to remember, this is a long term effort and we are at the (very) beginning of it (we specialize here in wildfire bursts of enthusiasm followed by severe and prolonged cases of ADD).

At seven-thirty is a regular meeting of the City Council with a straight-forward agenda. I'm having trouble understanding the 'reallocated funding' from other projects, not yet finished that will be repurposed. How do the original projects get paid for if we're about to shift the money and spend it on something else?

Tuesday morning at 8:30 in room 335 of City Hall, it's a regular meeting of the Youth Service Advisory Board, whose January meeting minutes are here. Was concerned to read what seems to be a belief that community activities can only be accomplished if 377 Main Street is purchased. I'm more inclined to believe it's the singer, not the song. Time to change the tune.

At five, in the offices of the Public Works Director at 50 Clinton Avenue, it's a regular meeting of the Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee whose last meeting (of any kind) was last November (no minutes posted on line, by the way).

At five thirty in the Kelly Middle School Library is a regular meeting of the Board of Education whose initial budget presentation meeting last week was sparsely attended (those of us not in the employ of the Norwich Public School system were outnumbered probably three or more to one), but I'm confident, especially in light of the front page story in one of the Sunday papers, the Board will adopt a preliminary budget for 2011-2012 that may put it on a collision course with the City Council (hence the mobilization of parents with the Sunday article). If you show up early, there's actually another public hearing on the budget at five o'clock, before the meeting begins.

We've been through all of this before: lobbying in local newspapers, political brinksmanship and using schoolchildren as human shields to protect a hidebound, moribund public education industry that wants everyone else to change except itself. Yeah, I'm more than a tad cranked at Sunday's news article because it's full of those mealy-mouthed cliches where everyone is quoted about concerns for 'the children' and 'supporting education' in hushed tones. Spare me.

No one doesn't support education. Questioning a (sketchy) proposed budget doesn't make anyone a villain. School's out and here's the lesson we haven't yet learned: all the deals we made when times were good do not work now. Clear the slate and start again and start fresh. And if you don't like paying for education, imagine how much ignorance will cost. Good news! You may not have to wait long to find out.

Wednesday at six, it's a meeting doubleheader (baseball reference sort of deliberate) as the Baseball Stadium Authority meets in Room 210 of City Hall, seemingly for the first time this year (no meeting minutes for either January (cancelled) or February). Across town, in the Wonder Bar, also at six, it's a regular meeting of the Greenville Revitalization Zone Committee whose last meeting was, I guess, in November.

There's one other meeting at six, in the auditorium of Norwich Tech and it's a public hearing on the renewal of the state charter for the Integrated Day School in Laurel Hill. I realize if you don't have a child there, this sounds like a 'so what' meter test, but it's not. The Charter School movement in the United States may be the last good faith effort to reinvent public education with any chance of success. You should consider attending.
And that's hard to suggest since I know the Town Hall meeting with Governor Malloy at seven in City Hall is going to draw a lot for interest and people (especially those who have no interest in hearing what the Governor says but will want, instead, to be heard themselves) which is why I'm mentioning the charter school hearing. This is one of those 'in hindsight moments' where later few will recall what the Governor of Connecticut said, but many (more) will feel the impact of what the state board of education does. If you don't think so, ask relatives of Edward Everett what happened at Gettysburg.

Thursday afternoon at 4:30 in their offices at 10 Westwood Park, it's a special meeting of the Housing Authority (because they usually meet on the second Wednesday but didn't). If you wonder what they do in terms of mission, or what they've done in terms of minutes, click here. You will learn nothing, because they're another committee who seems to think public law mandates are suggestions, but the pause was nice now, wasn't it?

At six, in Room 210 of City Hall it's a regular meeting of the Mohegan Park Improvements and and Development Advisory Committee (you might want to wait until May when they meet in the Lake Pavilion in the park). Good luck finding meeting minutes on the website-they, too, seem to have gotten lost in the woods.

And Saturday morning at nine, unless it becomes a nearly-silent casualty like Saturday's Team Norwich meeting, there should be a Mayor's meeting starting at nine in the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department. I've no idea if they have a Dalmatian (but I can hope, right?), but you can be sure if they do, I'll be wearing my liverwurst aftershave. I've always enjoyed Old Spice, but I think it's better to change your shirt, cos tonight we got style.
-bill kenny

No comments: