Monday, February 2, 2009

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Personal business first. A large electronic Happy Birthday greeting (a day early) to my brother, Adam, and best wishes on his first day in his new position. There's a brilliant and hysterically funny (imho) birthday card speeding (okay, limping) its way to you, delayed because its purchaser forgot the Post Office doesn't have those special Saturday Afternoon Stay-Open-for-your-brother's-Birthday-Card-mailing operating I'm hoping the day early here will counterbalance the at least a day late there situation a bit.

Und Alles Gut zum Geburtstag, Gabi, (my wife's sister) in Offenbach am Main, Germany.

On Mondays I try to highlight what I think are meetings of merit and moment going on in Norwich during the week. This, by numbers, is a relatively quiet week, and yet, at the same time not at all. I have such strong feelings about one of the meetings (the City Council meeting at 7:30 tonight in Council Chambers of City Hall) that I will NOT be attending it, and will save outlining its topics for the last part of my summary-mainly because every time I think I'm all talked about it, it turns out I'm not.

Wednesday (I know, 'Tuesday is what, chopped liver?' Go keep a lookout for tall ships, ya bother me), at 7 PM., the Norwich Republican Town Committee meets in Room 108 of City Hall, which feels like the basement though it's actually the ground floor. Room 108 is a bit oddly laid out (I always think of the Spanish Inquisition, but I don't know why) and while you must be, I believe, a registered Republican to vote (and/or discuss) any of their topics, the meeting is open to one and all, though if your name is Gelfond, your mileage may vary.

Thursday night at 7 at 23 Union Street (next door to City Hall) is a regular meeting of the Inland Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission, whose minutes of their December meeting suggest they quietly work on high-impact issues on behalf of all of us. I've yet to get to ANY of their meetings, I'm not proud to type that after living here for seventeen years, but thank you for what you do, even when one of us is too dumb to remember to say thanks.
Friday afternoon at 5 the Budget Expenditure Committee of the Board of Education will meet in the central offices across from the Norwichtown Green at 90 Town Street. I suspect these are the Board members who are doing all the stubby pencil work with the Superintendent and her assistant in developing a budget that will address the needs of our children and also be mindful of the constrained economic times in which we all live. Unfortunately, the Board's website continues to be highly unsatisfactory, user-unfriendly and inadequate in conforming to any of the CT state statutes on the dissemination and posting of public information (its roster of members is from the 2005-2006 term). In light of how much of the Norwich municipal budget is devoted to funding the important work of the Board of Education, this continuing lack of current and active information borders on the insulting.

Speaking of which (ahh, my old friend, foreshadowing!), brings me to Monday night's City Council meeting (start time at 7:30 PM) whose agenda (perhaps because they only meet twice a month) is crammed with important city-changing topics as a glance at their meeting agenda will indicate.

The Marquee interest item, the Council's actions on the second of the new business resolutions, "Relative to the Sachem Fund Board approving an advance amount of $120,000 in support of the Semiseptcentennial celebration" will rightly (or wrongly) overshadow everything else, to include, after years of (their own) work and research, a request by the Rose City Renaissance to NOT do anything with the first six ordinances on the Public Hearing except withdraw them.

Maybe I'm missing something, but, as written, none of the proposed ordinances seem to cost any of us anything until implemented which would only be at the direction of the city's leadership so I don't want to hear any of the aldermen talk about how tough times are right now and how we have to watch every penny (and since the informational meeting to explain the intent of the six ordinances has been canceled as well, I guess I'll never know), because there's no charge for planning, but a penalty if you don't.

I'm not a farmer but I look at the ordinances as being 'seed corn' and it appears we'd rather pop it, butter it and eat it (this sentence made possible by a grant from the Orville Redenbacher Foundation) while watching a movie about how wonderful Norwich used to be rather than to plan ahead the way NCDC, among others thinks we should (Admittedly, their website is the world-wide equivalent of unflavored gelatin; not bad when I think of what the taxpayers are shelling out for this stuff.). Okay, so maybe not them so much.

Also on the agenda is a proposal to establish a Charter Revision Commission, that, by state statutes requires a 'super-majority' of the Council in this case, with a seven person City Council (I know about the vacancy; lemme finish) that means five 'yes' votes. I, and you, can think of at least two "no" votes right now. And the Council only has six members through April, so this is more like The Charge of the Light Brigade, at best, or yet more politics as usual, at worst. Thanks for coming. Here's Johnny to tell you about the lovely take home prizes from Stuck in the Middle with You (I sit with Gerry at City Council meetings, but it's another Jerry.)

And of course, as you may remember from a March (2008) information session the City Council and the Chief of Police held on a survey (conducted in 2007) suggesting concerns about department morale and misgivings many rank and file had in connection with senior leadership (or perhaps you don't; some of us, I suspect, are counting on that), tonight the City Council has a new business ordinance to bond $800,000 to purchase (and take from the tax rolls) the old "Simon Ford" Property as the real estate to (eventually) build a new (estimated to cost) 30 to 40 Million dollar police station. Oh. Did I mention the police have been working for over two years on a lapsed, expired (call it what you will) contract? But borrowing more money from our kids to buy real estate to build a building we can not afford is just the tonic we need around here, I'm sure. It will (dare I even think it, much less type it?) demonstrate 'Norwich is Moving Forward.'

All of which leaves me to discuss the Sachem Fund support of the Norwich Semiseptcentennial. A lot has been written about this in the last 96 hours: this, this, this, this and this but not nearly as much as needed to have been written and asked about long before we came to the place where the road and the sky collide. I'm not sure Alan Parsons is from here, but it seems he lives here now. Get that mutt away from me.
-bill kenny

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