Monday, April 5, 2010

Money Doesn't Talk (Marcel Marceau Says 'Hi')

If there were ever a week in Norwich, Connecticut, sponsored by the National Cash Register Company, this is probably that week. But before we start talking money, and its absence, it's nice to be able to see proof of the regionalization concept as different organizations work to improve situations beyond town and city lines.

The Executive Committee of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments meets this morning at 8:30 in their building up in the Norwich Business Park (a piece of which is also in Franklin; I don't know why the name doesn't reflect that). As an abstraction, who doesn't love regionalization (I didn't ask for a show of hands, put them down)-the trouble always seems to come in the doing, if you know what I mean.

Everyone wants to go to heaven and no one wants to die. But SCCOG have been working practical magic in identifying regional projects that benefit from solutions that draw various municipalities together. A look at the Executive Committee's March meeting minutes, in particular item 3, underscores this concept. It sounds ludicrous after all the rain of last week to talk about water supplies, but it's an issue and it's not just any single town in the region, but across the region.

And parallel to that, as reflected by the deliberations of SCCOG and also a core competence of their own mission, perhaps by design (okay, let's be generous and say it is, why not?) later this afternoon at 5:15 in their building at 1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry Commons, is a meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority, continuing to pursue regional approaches to preserving, protecting and enhancing water supplies as a quality of life and economic development issue.

Money will be the main topic of tonight's City Council meeting at 7:30 in Council Chambers though there's other topics on the agenda (which doesn't seem to reflect the second citizen comment period I thought Andy D had been promised last month would be reinstated. I probably just picked a bad week to stop breathing oxygen). The 'main event', if you will, is the City Manager's presentation of his proposed budget.

I hope we'll remain seated while the room is in motion and make it a point to have some familiarity with the proposal before we start choosing up sides. I, personally am disappointed with the continued underfunding of the account paying for pony rides for birthdays, but I am only prepared at this juncture to complain bitterly about that situation since I would otherwise have to take action myself and thus accept the consequences of that action. A course I have steadfastly avoided throughout my entire adult life (nor am I alone in this approach).

There's a special meeting of the Public Parking Commission Tuesday night at six in the Buckingham Memorial to review and approve the new parking scheme for downtown. I'm not sure I've seen a lot of input from the members of the PPC on the Norwich Economic Development Plan (see, Bob? I'm going through it very slowly but I am reading it carefully and liking it a LOT because it's ruthlessly specific, which is a good thing), so I'm hoping we're all still on the same page, or book, or at least in the same library because too many people are working too hard to make Norwich work to allow ourselves to fail again. When does a second chance become a Last Chance? After the fact.

Wednesday at three, in Room 335 of City Hall, is the third of three public hearings by the Community Development Advisory Committee on Norwich’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan.

At 5:30 in the conference room at the Norwich Public Schools Central Office, across from the Norwichtown Green, is a regular meeting of the (Kelly Middle School) Building Committee. I'm not as worried as a taxpayer or as a parent who had two children in Norwich schools about the ongoing legal tussle over the construction and expansion as I am, in light of the wholesale shedding of programs because of fiscal restraints, about what the h-e double hockey sticks we think is going to go on in that forty million dollar facility when the last of the bulldozers has left.

We may have no programs, no teachers and no students for that building because of decisions we've made in the past that are tying our hands and purse strings now. Cynic that I am, dare I ask if it's too late to put a pool in Kelly and consider using it as the community center that some folks want to see elsewhere? I'm not trying to be funny (Zen stand up is Wednesdays when I write a softer rant for an actual newspaper) but seriously...what's the plan after the "The Plan" goes West? And at seven in City Hall (the room number is usually posted at the entrance) it's a meeting of the Republican Town Committee (happy now, Dennis?).

And speaking of money, swearing, mumbling and/or miming, Thursday evening at 7:30 in Room 335 (what did you say? Yep, that Room 335) in City Hall, is the first of the Departmental Hearings by the members of the City Council. Department Heads and the City Manager will explain to the Council why they've asked for what they've asked for in the proposed budget and the alderpersons will have their own questions and concerns. Thursday night, in half hour increments , it should be Legal, followed by the Otis Library, followed by Public Works followed by Public Utilities. If you have questions that will not keep until the first public hearing, which is next Monday night, look up the mailing or email address of the City Council and Mayor, and tell them what you want to have asked. They're not only our elected officials, their our neighbors-this is part of we chose them to do.

And Saturday morning, for three hours, starting at 9 in the Taftville Fire Department meeting room, is an opportunity to sit with Mayor Peter Nystrom and ask questions and get his answers on those issues that affect you and your family. It's part of the outreach the Mayor's been involved in over the last few months and I anticipate, even though a variety of Council members drop in for these meetings, when he's completed his first round, he'll have a report to present to the Council and, they in turn, will have another data point on the 'how are we doing?' meter which is how the world works, when it's working well. "And if my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine. But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only."
See you at something.
-bill kenny

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