Monday, May 3, 2010

This Dirty Boulevard (Norwich Meetings 3-8 May 2010)

We don't have many or any plastic roses to sell in The Rose of New England, though Mother's Day is rapidly approaching and anything can (and probably will) happen between now and Sunday, so be careful where you place your bet while the wheel's still in spin. And the same is true for the art of the possible, which at one time we used to call politics, but gave that up as budget constrictions caused our language skills to shrink. There are a lot of small pieces gathering across Norwich this week that will create a much larger mosaic both defining who we are now and confining us for the foreseeable future, depending on the choices we make.

The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, SCCOG, Executive Committee has a regular meeting this morning at 8:30 in their offices in the Norwich Business Park. Their last two meetings, one a special and the regular meeting early last month, have both had a high concentration on transportation issues, though I've not yet found any mention anywhere in their notes of the last eight to ten months about the Regional Intermodal Transportation Center in downtown in Norwich, slated to begin construction next month.

There's a special joint meeting at 4:30 in the Kelly Middle School Library of the Norwich Public School's Budget Expenditure Committee and the Building and Space Committee. With the bankruptcy of Madame Cleo, the clairvoyance industry has been keeping a low profile, but suspect even I can guess the topic of this meeting, especially in light of the agenda of the City Council's first regular meeting for the month of May, in City Hall starting at 7:30.

I admire the passion and engagement of all those who've spoken out and/or spoken up on the City Manager's proposed budget, and who'll have another opportunity at the second public hearing this Thursday evening beginning at 7:30, but I keep looking at the dollar figures he and his department heads are looking at, and the missions (and to some extent, mission creep) of the various city agencies, and applaud the men and women on the City Council for listening to everyone and deciding for themselves.

I've gone through the budget book numerous times and I don't see where the increased dollars for a particular program, personnel or initiative are coming to come from if alterations to the proposed budget are made. I'm not saying increases aren't merited or deserved-just that I cannot see how they're affordable. I think this City Council, better than many since I've lived here, understands we can only have as much government as we can pay for. The alderpersons are not making decisions lightly-and agree or disagree with that, you have to give them their due for their willingness to make a terribly painful decision that so many of us might not be as able to do.

If it's of any solace, and it's not, we started down this slippery slope very probably in the late Sixties, not just here but across the country, and it's taken this long for all of our bad habits, spend-thrift ways and moral and ethical bankruptcy to finally catch up with our fiscal profligacy.

Wednesday afternoon at three in City Hall's Room 210 is a public hearing by the Community Development Advisory Committee to explain the program's qualification requirements and accept recommendations from the public on community needs and use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. And if I can offer a word of advice, start complying with Public Act 08-3; it's not a suggestion-it's the law.

At five thirty, in the Norwich Public School's Central office, is a regular meeting of the (Kelly Middle) School Building Committee whose meeting minutes from April are not available, see previous remark about Public Act 08-3, but whose March meeting minutes are.

And at seven, the Republican Town Committee has a regular meeting in Room 335 of City Hall. I'm not a member of their party, but I'd ask my Republican friends who attend to consider telling those whom they've elected to State office in Hartford to cut the crap and get back to the table with the 'other guys' and the Governor to hammer out a new spending and budget plan that reflects the desires and needs of all of Connecticut's citizens not just the Gold Coasters or the Swamp Yankees or the Star-Bellied Sneetches (for all I know). Taking your ball and going home is just so second grade, innit?

And while I'm scolding, let's go back a week to the folks on the other side of the aisle and their endorsement of Richard Blumenthal for Senator because, well, because, he umm, well everyone knows who he is and um.....yeah, brilliant stuff. It's not like there are other folks seeking the nomination and/or who might be worth listening to before you offer an endorsement. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten. Thanks for providing just another example of this principle.

Thursday night at seven, in the Planning Department's conference room in the basement of 23 Union Street is a regular meeting of the Inlands Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Committee, whom, it appears last met in February for about five minutes, judging by the minutes available on the city's website. Hope if they do meet Thursday night, the Guinness Book of Records people have been notified.

There are two other meetings, says one of the local papers, both at seven in City Hall-the State Republican Probate Convention and the Democratic State Central Convention. Considering at 7:30 in City Council Chambers, with spill-over being anticipated for seating in Room 335, is the second public hearing on Norwich's City Manager's Proposed Budget, I'm not sure where either of those 'state meetings' will be held and wonder if perhaps that's regarded as a bad thing by their organizers.

And Saturday morning, starting at nine in the Occum Volunteer Fire Department, it's another public meeting with Mayor Peter Nystrom and an opportunity to share your concerns and ideas for making Norwich better, direct, without filters or interpreters. "No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything; they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard." If you don't avail yourself of these chances, you can't really complain when nothing changes and even less improves.
-bill kenny


Anonymous said...

Is Lou Reed doing a concert in Norwich? Does Live Nation have tickets for a small surcharge?
LR "White Heat"

dweeb said...

I should live so long!

I saw Herr Reed in the Offenbach Stadthalle the night of the great Throw All the Chairs on Stage, Incite a Riot and and Get Arrested by the Polizei Tour (no shirts available? Damn!).

Ahh, those were the days!