Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It Seems We've Been Crying for Years and for Years

Maybe it's just me, but the air is sort of out of the balloon now that Independence Day is in the rear view mirror. I think it's easier for us to work towards something than to track the distance in time and space from something else. Thus, this week in Norwich is a short week, because of the Monday holiday and because we're nearing the middle of the summer of our discontent, there might be a tendency to not pay as much attention to the efforts so many make across the city to make things better, or failing that, to make them different and convince us, it's better.

Having said that, the first meeting I'll point out to you, you can't attend unless...you're on the Norwich City Council, the Norwich Board of Education or are a trustee of the Norwich Free Academy. It will happen this morning at 7:30 , I'll assume in the Lahan Science Center at NFA. The newspapers refer to it as a closed meeting, and since I'm not a Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, attorney (or any other kind), I'll offer a layman's opinion that a meeting involving the expenditure of public money (the tuition the city pays to the Norwich Free Academy) must be doing complex gymnastics to be classed as a 'closed meeting'. I LOVE when we go back to old habits whenever we think no one is watching.

Tonight at six in their building over on Golden Street it's special meetings of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners and the Sewer Authority (a twofer, if you will) that's actually their 22 June meeting rescheduled. I'm intrigued by the mention of a "City Council presentation" which, in light of the dis and misinformation floating around The Rose City on the relationship between Norwich Public Utilities and the City Council, sounds like a really good idea, especially if you read Chapter Twelve of the City Charter (which I suspect a LOT of us will be doing for many different reasons in the coming months) before you go.

The 'normal' first Monday of the moth City Council meeting has, by default and the Monday holiday law, slid to tonight at seven thirty in City Council chambers, but BEFORE that happens on the other end of the third floor of City Hall, in Room 335, at seven is a public presentation on the status of the rehabilitation of the two Sherman Street bridges.

Since I drive over them every day, let me offer a snapshot of their current condition: crap. I'm not sure why parts of Asylum Street were repaved unless it was to accentuate how awful the bridges are (mission accomplished, by the way). I thought one of the reasons advanced to support voting last November for the Public Works bond issue was to jump start the financing to get them repaired. Not exactly, we're still years away from the actual repairs. Somehow I smell another 'temporary closure' of the Heritage Walkway under the Sweeney Bridge, that's lasted for three years. Same movie, different cast and location.

The City Council agenda includes amending a section of the code of ordinances to reduce the cost of a license for hawkers, peddlers and vendors. There's a small number of Hot Dog Guys in and around the city (the ones at the harbor have great dogs and some of the most refreshing soda in this hemisphere when I'm out walking on Saturdays across the city) and I guess they've asked for the change but I think the WHOLE process needs to be looked at. I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the notion that I or any other free person needs permission of one person, whose decision is final, to pursue a job in the first place and that I have to pay a high licensing fee for this privilege. It seems the land of the free ain't quite.

Wednesday afternoon at five thirty, the Norwich Public Schools (Kelly Middle) School Building Committee has a regular meeting (not that you'd know by checking their website) that will be held in the basement conference room of the Administration Building, across from the Norwichtown Green. That's the building that DOESN'T have the fellow seeking to be the next Governor standing out in front of it; you can't miss it.

At seven, says the City's website (though I think the location is subject to change) in Room 335 of City Hall is a meeting of the Republican Town Committee.

Finally, Thursday afternoon at 5:15 in Room 210 of City Hall it's a regular meeting of the Mohegan Park Improvement and Development Advisory Committee, who work closely with the Recreation Department to create recreational opportunities for everyone and anyone across the city even as the financial resources to do so grew smaller in each fiscal year.

When we read history, events are compressed so that incremental changes are reduced to two printed pages--the War for American Independence becomes a chapter and a half, for instance. It's easy to lose sight that every action we take at the local level is connected to those taken and measured by others elsewhere in governance, above and below, both known and unknown to us. And that we, and how we live, are the sum of all these actions, and inactions. Talking about change is just that, talk, until we are willing to change. When I open my mouth, and I can't seem to talk, perhaps we're on our way.
-bill kenny

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