Monday, May 11, 2009

As Long as You and I Are Here

I learned last week to measure twice and cut once. Turns out there were items of interest and merit going on in Norwich that didn't quite make it to the municipal calendar and consequently, I failed to share those with you. My apologies for being part of the peanut butter conspiracy to play keep away with you on information on what goes on here in Norwich.

Yes, some of us feel that we do share the city with people who like to think this is a private and closed game, but sunshine is a pretty good disinfectant and if we all promise to keep the curtains open long enough, eventually we'll all feel better. Even those who don't deserve to.

This afternoon at five, in Room 209 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Volunteer Firefighters Relief Fund Committee, which didn't have meetings in either March or April, but here's what went on at their
February meeting, and it underscores, again, how wide the impact of the turmoil in the worldwide financial community can be.

And if you still seek 'real world' examples, then, by all means, visit the Norwich Technical School Auditorium at seven for the second of the two public hearings on the
City Manager's proposed 2009-2010 budget. I'm more puzzled that this public hearing is at the school than I was for the first hearing. The theory, I think, was that a lot of people would turn out and/or speak. I counted about fifty folks in the auditorium.

In a room that size, fifty people roll around and make a noise like a BB in a boxcar. Maybe more symbolic of Norwich than does any of us any good is that, with weeks to reconsider and reassess the original decision on the location, none of the people we've elected was willing to bite the bullet and move the hearing back to City Hall,where it should have been. We are, if nothing else, here in the Rose City, consistent.

Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 is a meeting of the
Norwich State Hospital Review Committee whose predecessor, a pair of meetings of the Mayor's Forum on Economic Development, held last June and July, along with one sometime later on the Norwichtown Mall, produced I'm not sure what in terms of tangible results. It did give me something to write about and a blogger's gotta eat after all, even if it's crow.

I've seen a few of those in the Norwichtown area across the street from the soccer field, as Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 there's a regular
Board of Education meeting at Kelly Middle School. Good luck finding the meeting agenda or the minutes of the 21 April meeting, though the asterisk is helpful. Nice, new website, with as much content and ease of use as the one it replaced. What was that I said earlier about consistency? If I may, quick aside at least hypothetically to the BOE: the requirement to have minutes posted on, and to, municipal websites within forty-eight hours of the public meeting is not a suggestion; it's a public law.

Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee also meets Tuesday-at 6:45 in the Otis Library, though there's no list of members, meeting minutes or agenda. Sort of like being sworn into the Kingdom of the Invisible. And at seven, in the basement conference room at 23 Union Street (next door to City Hall) is a meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, all of whose members' appointment, if not the members themselves, have expired and for which there are no meeting minutes or agenda. Do you sense a trend, here?

Norwich Housing Authority meets Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 in their offices at 10 Westwood Park--knowing this may shock you, I wasn't able to locate their previous meeting minutes or find an agenda.

There's a meeting at six in Room 335 of City Hall of the Cool Cities Program which, since there's no list of members, agenda or minutes, I'm gonna start a rumor that they are part of an initiative to get
Ken Nordine's Word Jazz added to the curriculum of the Norwich Public Schools' music program. (If you loved Levi's jeans TV commercials in the late sixties/early seventies, you don't know it, but you know who Nordine is. Which is more than I can say about the membership of the Cool Cities Program). With a bit of luck, I'll bet I can claim this is an activity of the 350th Anniversary Committee and get enough money from the Sachem Fund to pay for pants for everyone.

Also at six Wednesday evening is May's
regular meeting of the Norwich Baseball Stadium Authority. Interesting point in the April minutes about a question by a local newspaper if the back rent on the stadium would be paid by the Defenders by Opening Day. The minutes say the answer was 'yes' (no one from the team was present at the meeting) and yet there are reports the Defenders are still in arrears for six figures. What could be between 'yes' and 'no' for an answer? 'Richmond'......

And at seven o'clock, in the Occum Volunteer Fire Department, is a regular meeting of the
Public Safety Committee. I've been to a couple of these meetings, not just because I like playing checkers and sliding down the pole (because no one does these things, as it turns out) but because they're an example of what I call 'quiet government'. Read the April minutes--you don't feel the earth shift under you while scanning them-it's a lot of white space and detail management. And, that,for the most part is what local government is all about. As romantic as manning the barricades may be, it's alternate side of the street parking that allows us to get the snow plowed in the winter.

And, to close, but it's not during the week but next Saturday afternoon in the Otis Library starting at three and going until five (or whenever it reaches the end), is a "Meet the Candidate(s)" Question and Answer forum. As you may, or may not, know (or care), there are currently two announced Democratic Party candidates, Alderman Mark Bettencourt and Alderman
Bob Zarnetske as well as one unaffiliated candidate, Joseph Radecki, seeking to be the next Mayor of Norwich.

There could be more folks running in the days and weeks ahead, but this Saturday's forum was envisioned for the two Democratic Party candidates to exchange viewpoints and speak to the voters. I always see these things as job interviews. As a shareholder in this multi-million dollar enterprise (check here again for the
total operating budget and figure "times four" in terms of dollars generated), I want to look the applicants in the eye and hear their thoughts on smart growth and economic development, the role of government in the delivery of social services and getting roads patched and sidewalks built.

I figure if we worry about the little things, the big things aren't so daunting and once we start solving some of the nit-noy problems the big ones won't be so large. Many hands make light work and Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead.
"I don't care if it weighs a ton.
As long as you and I are here,
Put it There."
-bill kenny

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