Monday, November 19, 2007

11/19 City Council Meeting: Real-Time

In an landmark moment in journalistic history, this post is being brought to you real-time, from the rear of the city council chamber while the meeting is going on!

(If you are watching on TV, channel 99, you will see me in the back at the conference table. I have 2 browser windows open: one for this post, and one for the gamecast of the Maryland-UCLA game.)

Early speculation is that the 2 a.m. bill will be pulled. Reporters from The Post, The Sun, and The Capital are here. There are like a billion people here: the public, the special interests, and TV station(s)!

7:45: A local historian says some things.

7:51: Sam Shropshire's environmental scientist is making a last-minute plea to the council in support of plastic bags.

(UCLA 25, UMD 16)

Even though this is not a public hearing meeting, the public is being heard. The good thing about legislative meetings is that usually fewer people speak. The bad thing is that if people want to speak at the beginning of a legislative meeting, they can say whatever they want. Some actual examples from today:

"Please consider a levy on take-home food containers".

(UCLA 28, UMD 18)

The 'cool' crowd is seated here in the back. While various environmentalists are making various claims, we are snidely quipping under our breaths that this is not a public hearing.

If everyone goes over their allotted time to speak, we will be here until the next round of bar wars in, 2017.

Also, my right foot is falling asleep....oop, there goes the left one too.

(UCLA 28, UMD 18, halftime. HALFTIME! Geez, I can score more points than that shooting half-court shots as a novelty act during intermission.)

Tony Evans! I love him. He says he would like to be 18 years old so he could debate the plastic bag bill in high school. To quote: "This bill is an economic, bureaucratic, and logistical nightmare...let's make the best of it! Vote for the ban."

Sam Shropshire is arguing with a speaker who was against the bill. This is not the time! This is terrible! All of my limbs are asleep! My brain is soon to follow!

Alderman Sam just finished--oop, and started again--a quasi-tirade that is sure to be caught by the TV camera. The mayor seems to be getting annoyed. I am annoyed. My feet hurt. Maryland is losing. Sentence sizes are decreasing.

The 2 a.m. bill appears to be set for a vote. No early moves by the sponsor to remove it from the agenda.

Oooh, O'Brien's is here. Two people are dressed in fancy suits. They are THE PROBLEM BAR that everyone talks about when talking about the evil bars downtown.

They need 8 security personnel on Friday and Saturday nights--umm, maybe you should let in different people.

Now, they are not here to speak on any given bill, as far as I can see. So why are they here? Maybe they are afraid that there will be a movement to ALL midnight licenses. Don't count on that. More likely: a new 2 a.m. bill will be introduced that actually punishes a bar that causes problems. (GASP!!) They want to start beating the drum that they try hard; that they are good; and that they should keep their valuable 2 a.m. license.

Also possible: they are feeling the heat for not meeting food/booze sales ratios.

Alderman Israel suggests levying fees on bars to pay for additional police.

Also, public testimony is still going on. This is a legislative meeting, yet there has not been a single vote cast (except to approve the minutes).

(UCLA 36, UMD 23)

Sam Shropshire is arguing again--I have never seen such a violent meeting! The mayor just had to bang her gavel! This is total acting! Get the TV cameras out of here so we can get some work done!

A speaker pointed out that the Downtown Business Association submitted a letter against the ban, and Alderman Sam said "they didn't say they were against it, they said they didn't support it."

No bullshit.

The speaker just called out Alderman Sam for speaking into the camera. Good stuff.

Hopefully there is at least 1 bar that will be open until 2 a.m. today, because I will need a drink and this meeting will go on until then!

The cameras are leaving!

A speaker just compared what we do to what other countries do: "In other countries, people bring their own bags and baskets; the retailers don't provide it." I hate that. We have plastic bags because the private market has arrived at that outcome. There are avagadro's number of factors that contribute to this. Enough with the comparison.

(#1 UCLA 43, UMD 29)

Public testimony threatens to end.

The supply of speakers is exhausted. Time to vote.

I just re-applied my chapstick.

Damn it! The cameras just came back.

The voting is starting. I have to spend my time writing with a pen (a traditional, pre-blog-era communication device) to make notes. I will real-time post the 2 am and plastic bag results, and summarize the rest tomorrow.

(UCLA 46, UMD 35)

Ok I lied, they are dragging their feet and I can keep up real-time for now.

R-63-07 is moved to the front of the agenda, and passes.

Twin bills to establish a department of economic development, CA 01-07 and O-11-07 are being debated. Vote to postpone for more time to study. Postponed.

O-56-06 passes. Adds Compromise St. to parking District 2.

0-14-07: fire prevention: postponed.

O-22-07: Notifying public of information regarding sign applications. Amendments. Terribly boring and technical.

(UCLA 56, UMD 43)

Receive real-time email from real-life reader. Encouraged to keep typing.

We are still talking about signs*. Actually, we are staring into space while the aldermen and city attorney talk about signs. The aldermen don't really know parliamentary procedure, which is frustrating to me** and I'm sure to the city attorney.

(*Quote from the cool back-room crowd: "We're talking about signs here.")

(**I was parliamentarian in 7th grade for the Annapolis Middle School Student Government Association.)

The signs bill, O-22-07, passes, I think.

2 a.m. time.

Classie Hoyle JUST NOW moves to withdraw the 2 a.m. bill. She could have done this before. For example: 1.5 hours ago, when I still could have caught the UCLA-UMD game on TV.

Alderman Israel opposes postponement, calls for a vote today.

Still debating the postponement.


Postponement fails! Vote on the bill coming now.

O-23-07 fails. No votes for the bill, not even the sponsor. Bill fails on second reader. Current 2 a.m. rules remain.

O-26-07, relating to food/booze sales ratios, postponed.


Plastic bags. Ban moved by Shropshire, seconded by Stankivic. Arnett moves to supercede with O-27-07 (revised), or O-55-07--we don't really know!! A lot of shadiness and politics, I can't even follow it! Neither can the guy who is responsible for writing the legislation.

Shropshire is giving a soliloquy. Various environmentalists are holding up signs, which I cannot view because I am with the cool crowd in the back of the room. My left eye is drooping a bit because I am sleepy. I haven't seen this much propaganda since my second grade teacher tried to make me believe that I wouldn't be able to function in society without learning how to write in cursive.

What we know is that there is new legislation to kill the original bill. As of the start of the meeting, only the city attorney had copies of the new bill.

Stankivic makes substantive change motion, which postpones the bill and requires a new public hearing. DAMN ALL OF THEM!! WHY DID WE GO THROUGH ALL OF THIS??

This is freeking horsecrap. Vote yes or no so we can be done with this issue. They should have introduced a separate bill so that we could vote on that bill and not a substantive change of the original bill.

Wait, maybe they did. I have no idea what's going on...and as you loyal readers know, I usually know everything! I will do my best to figure out what's going on. This may take a while.

Shropshire warns that people in Arizona and Colorado are waiting for the decision of the council on this bill, handily forgetting that he was not elected to serve Arizonians or Coloradians.

(UCLA 71, UMD 59, final)

The best I can see, O-27-07 revised and O-55-07 are the same thing! So, if they vote on the "revised" bill, they can postpone based on substantive change to a bill. If they vote on O-55, they can end this thing today!

Moyer and Shropshire are arguing. Arnett and Shropshire are arguing...on the floor!! Shropshire is demanding the floor! Mayor ignores!

It is 9:33.

Shropshire requests a vote on O-27-07 (original) and a separate vote on O-55-07. He is absolutely right on this.

O-27-07 REVISED is accepted! Stankivic moves a substantive change has been made. Plastic bag ISSUE is postponed!!

Unbelievable cowardice. I can't believe they sidestepped the vote like this. I will be sending the city a bill for my time.

That's enough for this post. I'll finish the rest later.

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