Monday, July 25, 2011

Back of My Neck Getting Dirty and Gritty

If it helps, fast forward six months and we'll be complaining about the cold and snow. Like I said, if it helps; it may not. Otherwise we can perspire or glisten (do you want to know a secret?) in syncopation and anticipation and wait for the heat wave to end so we can talk about it for hours on end.

A nice way to beat the heat, because so many of the sites have air-conditioning, is to attend a municipal meeting. Gives a you a chance to see the miracle of democracy up close and personal (perhaps a little more up close than you'd like, but you can't make an omelet without breaking a few legs as Tony Soprano might say), and despite (or sometimes because of) the weather, the calendar is full again this week, beginning with....

This afternoon at five in Room 210 of City Hall with a special meeting of the Ethics Commission. You'll have to leave when the commission goes into Executive Session (to protect personal privacy rights) but no decisions can be made without returning to the public meeting.

I am a little disappointed, in light of the unveiling of the Downtown Revitalization Programs details and the proposed Marina purchase (to name two recent headlines), to learn the Redevelopment Agency's meeting has been cancelled for this month and will next convene (I hope) on August 22nd.

Tuesday afternoon at three-thirty in the Central Office of the Norwich Public Schools across from the Norwichtown Green is a regular meeting of the Board of Education Policy Committee, or so it says on the city's meeting calendar. It says a lot less on the Board's website but their chronic lack of timely information is almost no longer remarkable.

At five, in the City Manager's office in City Hall, is a regular meeting of the Harbor Management Commission. There's a June meeting agenda, but no meeting minutes posted on the city's website (imagine my surprise).

Wednesday afternoon, maybe at three thirty in the Central Office of the Norwich Public Schools, is a regular meeting of the Building and Space Committee. I'm waffling because it's on the municipal calendar but next to nothing is posted on the Board of Education's website.

At five thirty in the basement conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street it's a sort of triple header as the Dangerous Buildings Board of Review has a regular meeting at five-thirty. Don't waste your time looking for minutes-there are none posted on line for the entire year. I admire that kind of consistency.

At six (in the evening, not at 6 AM as listed at the top of the page) is a regular meeting of the Reid and Hughes Committee who are a subset of the aforementioned board and who have no other listing on the city's website and, thus, no membership roster nor posted meeting minutes as referenced in their agenda or required by public act.

And because I enjoy a laugh as much as the next person (and maybe more), at six thirty, the 751 North Main Street Committee meets in the same location, with pretty much the same folks who started at 5:30 and with the same dearth of archived records of previous meetings as the other two bodies. You cannot make this stuff up.

Speaking of laughs and toe-tapping, for that matter, since you're only a block away while at the Planning Department waiting for whichever meeting is about to happen or end, there's Rock the Docks, with Dan Stevens, from six until eight o'clock. Then he rocks them himself, I guess (the NY Times called him "Connecticut's hardest working blues man"; perhaps that's why).

In the middle of all of this, across town at six in the Recreation Department, it's a regular meeting of the Recreation Advisory Board whose posted membership roster is in desperate need of refreshing and whose meeting minutes are poorly archived. It looks like the last meeting was in December of 2010 and if we meet that sporadically, why meet at all?

At seven, in the conference room over at the Golf Course, it's a regular meeting of the Golf Authority. I'm not sure where or when they replace their divots, but their meeting minutes are here.

Thursday morning at 7:30, in their offices at 77 Main Street, it's a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Norwich Community Development Corporation, whose agenda and previous meeting minutes can be easily enough obtained by asking for them but it would a lot simpler for everyone if they were just posted on the city's website (it's city business they do, right?) along with everyone else's except, waitaminit! so many of the others aren't posted...Hmmm.

Later in the day, much later actually, at 7 PM in the Greeneville Fire Department, it's a One City Forum and a chance to talk about issues that concern you-such as the repurposing of two former school buildings that were already in need of code compliance work when they were shuttered and seemingly allowed to deteriorate.

Perhaps the idea was that it would be easier to raze them and clear the land for reuse, except, well, nobody briefed the City Council on the preferred outcome and now we're still at square one with an increasingly contentious argument about possible uses that needed long ago to become either a fully articulated plan, complete with funding or be relegated to the dustbin of history. Lieber ein ende mit schrecken als shrecken ohne ende.

And that's this week's meetings here in The Rose of New England. We get the government we deserve and we deserve the best we can get, which means we need to be engaged and involved and to stop waiting for somebody, somewhere to do something. The movement you need is on your shoulders (okay, most of us need to keep our day-jobs).
-bill kenny

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