The city council will convene for the first time this year for its monthly legislative meeting at 7:30 pm, preempted by a swearing in quasi-gala for Alderman-Elect Paone at 6 pm.
Some of you may be wondering about the distinction between the "legislative" and the "public hearing" meeting. Aside from the 7:30 start time of the former and the 7:00 start time of the latter, not much. In theory, the public hearing involves exclusively public testimony. However, often the rules are suspended to allow "special" votes on various things. The legislative meetings are supposed to be reserved for the voting; however, the agenda allows for the public to testify in the beginning, and unlike the public hearings where the testimony has to be related to an agenda item, you can say anything you want at legislative meetings.
Sadly I will not be in attendance tonight, because Mrs. Politics' mom really wants to take us to the UMD-Duke (women's) basketball game tonight. I'll have to alert my sources on the grape vine.
To see the full agenda, click HERE. I am about to present some items that interest me, and for those of you trying to decide if you want to show up, remember: typically nothing happens to bills that are on first reader. Some highlights:
-CA-01-08. First reader. This is the charter amendment to amend and clarify the the role of the city administrator that Alderman Israel defended in the paper yesterday. Taking power away from the mayor is good in theory, but only if that power is given to the city council. I think this bill falls short.
-O-27-07 "Revised", versions "C" and "D". Second/Third Reader. (The fact that this is not on first reader is a miscarriage of the legislative process.) This is very confusing. The original O-27-07 was the ban on plastic bags. However, that bill went down in flames and was replaced by O-27-07 revised, which really was an entirely different bill and should have been given its own number. Apparently O-27-07 revised went through more revisions, and listed on the online Agenda is O-27-07 revised "C". However, we now know that version "C" will be replaced with version "D".
-O-39-07. Second/Third Reader. This bill requires all new construction and "major" renovation in the historic district to include sprinklers so the buildings quit burning down all the time. "Major construction" was originally defined as construction whose value exceeds 50% of the current value of the house, but that number was amended down to 10%! The bill has no exclusion for residential properties, so anybody in Murray Hill remodeling their kitchen and like 1 other room will have to put sprinklers into their house! Starting tomorrow!
-O-46-07. Second/Third Reader. To finalize the lease with the open air market that will be open on Sundays downtown.
-Various parking hoo-has.
-O-48-07. Second/Third Reader. To finalize the lease with Race Across America, a cycling event whose entire application argument was "Look, we're not the triathlon".
-O-02-08. First Reader. To require local retailers to inform us when they are exposing us to 'bisphenol-A', an apparently harmful substance. I will submit to the commentary of an emailer:
Since when did Annapolis City decide it had the technical knowledge and resources to become the FDA? I'm sure the area merchants will be thrilled by (under penalty of law) being forced to put up a sign that says their products may brain damage your child. Plus, why stop there? Why not put up signs on potato chips and such, since the heart disease and obesity caused by these products has killed many more people than the effects (if any) of BPA. Better yet, why don't we put up signs around public housing saying studies show that entering this area may result in death by gunshot.
-R-04-08. First Reader. To give away money. The bill starts with a lot of rhetoric designed to make you feel sympathy towards homeless people, especially during winter. Such compassion is praiseworthy, but the bill uses this emotional ploy as the only justification for giving money to the cause. The money from 5 specific parking meters, from November 1 through February 28 of every year, "shall be given solely to homeless assistance within the city based on the recommendations of the Housing and Human Welfare Committee". I have no idea how much money is generated by 5 parking meters in 4 months, and it would be nice if the city told us just how much they think this will be. Plus who is the Housing and Human Welfare Committee? More to come on this one.
R-61-07. First Reader on an amendment I think. To create a commission to say that 'Lincoln was here'. This is not a joke! The full version of the bill is not online, and on the agenda it's listed as a "motion to reconsider", but it is also listed as being passed by the council on 12/10/07. I feel embarrassed that I missed this one a month ago. The bill's subject line presents the intent of "commemorating President Lincoln's presence and walk through Annapolis with the erection of a historical marker". Fantastic. Then the kicker, ....."and to direct the Mayor to appoint a nine member Lincoln Bicentennial Commission". A NINE MEMBER WHAT?!! The city council plus the mayor comprise nine people, and if they pass this, I will have a new name for them that suggests an entirely different purpose.