Monday, March 10, 2008

City Council Meeting: 3/10

No preamble tonight, let’s get right to it.


There is pre-meeting chaos, almost as much as I have ever seen. The state of the city address is tonight, and I have been promised that it is 40% more ‘to the point’ than last year. The budget also must be introduced tonight by law—we have the summaries, but not the details. And according to a quote that I just made up myself and have never heard before nor borrowed from anyone else, “the devil is in the details”.

(Of note, I will be making the master order guide for the restaurant that I am taking over next week. I expertly planned such a tedious task to coincide with the hours of idle time that I am about to have, even after posting brilliant and poignant commentary.)


Started relatively on time. All are present with the exception of Alderman Paone, which is tragic, because there are a lot of things to vote on today and we need his republican vote.


The Mayor is immediately into her State Of The City Speech. I will post the transcript at some point, but some highlights:

-drug arrests increasing
-multi-agency drug fighting collaboration
-$1 million investment in public safety
-$43,000 starting police salary*
-salary, health, and pension “places our police dept. at #1 in the state”
-proposed “Office of Youth And Community Action”
-calls on all citizens to make moral commitment to city’s youth
-calls for $1 million endowment fund for education (?)
-multi agency and public-private partnerships to foster education and skills
-“stem the tide of violence” by “inspire(ing) dreams”
-property tax RAISED by 1.5 cents per $100
-resistance to change causes worthy projects to die a death of 1000 cuts
-still racism in city
-Annapolis IS financially sound
-“we have been able to reduce and hold the line on the City tax rate”**
-Annapolis is a special place

(*questionable, **total bullcrap)


State Of The City Address ends. I currently have running through my intensely active brain enough material to have a 72 hour marathon blogging session, but alas, the intricacies my secret pulled pork BBQ recipe beckon.

Of note, the finance committee will start deliberations on the budget on 3/24 at 5:00.


The honorable councilman Cohen is here and gets to speak first. He is asking the council to postpone the vote on the arts and entertainment district, for what appear to be political reasons for himself. ( Maybe he sponsored the bill when he was on the city council. Or maybe it reflects on him b/c it’s his county council district). He thinks the bill is moving too fast, and has heard complaints from his constituents, who include city residents.


Whoops, Alderman Paone is here now. How did I miss him? He’s like 7 feet tall.


Minor Carter is here talking about, umm, criminals. The general tone is that they (they meaning someone) are doing a better job enforcing laws and punishing criminals.


The Eastport crime fighters are here, sans signs. Oohh, they have a new name: Annapolitans United Against Crime. They want a public safety plan by Saturday.


I think Alderman Paone just grew another inch.


I sort of (but not really!) wish we could restrict free speech a little bit, because people continue to speak for and against bills on non-public-hearing nights. The first of such persons is speaking on the sailing hall of fame, whose resolution is only on first reader for goodness’ sake. I don’t have time for this: I only have time for shrimp and grits.


Damn it, if these sailing people go past 8:21 I am going to be furious.


This person is talking about the arts district, saying that Ram’s Head wants it. But that’s no guarantee that there aren’t any more sailing people! The lady from Ram’s Head just demanded a level playing field regarding the amusement tax that threatens to be eased for the new entertainment venues at Park Place. I find this amusing, because that’ s precisely the argument of Sly Fox, located a drunken stumble away from Ram’s Head, articulates to deaf ears regarding the gross inequity of the city’s 2 AM drinking policy. (Edit: Classie Hoyle said this same thing about 2 hours later. So, I am 2 hours smarter than everyone.)


Eliot Spitzer just testified in favor of the sailing hall of fame, as he no longer is preoccupied with more pressing matters.


I went sailing before, once. Actually twice. The average size of the boat was 11 feet, and the average time that we regained control of the boat before capsizing was half a heartbeat.


Tony Evans! Tony Evans is talking about pigs ears and purses, which somehow relate to the awful O-51-07. Now he’s talking about Thomas Stone and slavery—I don’t quite know why—but who cares. In my book, he can say whatever he wants. He just said that the state police maintain a flock of chickens. Who knew? Fabulous.


A guy is here right now is telling the council to be smart when hiring a police chief, which incredibly is actually appropriate subject matter for this particular point in the agenda. Sadly, he says nothing new, pleading only to “do everything you can to hire the best possible person”.


The leader of the Annapolis Business Association is here asking the council to let certain downtown businesses sell stuff on the streets for 3 days in March. Let me re-phrase: NOT the Department Of Economic Affairs has organized the affairs of the downtown economy.


Damn it, it’s now been an hour into the legislative meeting, and they haven’t legislated anything yet. I think they should have 3 public hearings a month, including one called the “opportunity for public bitching about anything”. Concurrently, there should be a penalty of 10 years in jail for speaking at a legislative meeting. I’ve got eggs to whisk!


The Mayor correctly asserts that we are confused about all this multi-agency crime fighting rigamarole. I believe she went on to explain this but then Alderman Shropshire said something and I temporarily lost my memory.

Mention is made of MS-13, a notoriously violent gang.


Math Quiz: # of things voted on by the city council—a lawmaking body convened for a meeting-- minus # of things voted on by me--an unelected jackass.

Answer……………………………: -1.

(Early in the meeting I took a straw poll and decided to sit in the 4th seat from the left, rather than the 3rd).


Damn it, Doug Smith, you should know better. Once and for all, the legislative meeting introducing the first reader of a bill is not the time to testify on that bill!


The owner of Fawcett Boat Supplies (which is going through chapter 11 bankruptcy, tragically) says that commercial vacancy = crime, that businesses are leaving downtown for Parole, and that the sailing HOF will be good because it’s the opposite of those last 2 things.


The only city official to have a fan site on this blog is Ray Weaver, for his animated objections to Alderman Shropshire’s plastic bag behavior. I am proud to announce that Alderman Paone now too has an ‘Annapolis Politics’ sponsored fan club, because he was stern with Doug Smith when he spoke out of turn at 8:48, and because he just mocked the proposed arts and entertainment district by asking a testifier “do you want to see the map of the week?”.


For the purposes of the official bio listed on the Fred Paone Fan Club, Alderman Paone stands 7’2”.


Still no voting. I’m not going to be home until midnight! Mrs. Politics is going to be pissed!!


A keen gent just pointed out that by regulating the homeowner but not the construction industry, the unintended consequences of the city council passing a requirement for sprinklers is price gouging and prices 5 times those which were anticipated. THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT PLAN THE ECONOMY NO MATTER HOW MANY SMART PEOPLE TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT.


I just finished the master inventory list for the restaurant, making remarkable time due to the overt lack of accomplishment at this meeting so far. There are only 125 items on the list, which is joyfully low.


The mayor just asked people wishing to speak on upcoming resolutions to come back at the time of the appropriate public hearing. Where was this 1 hour and 51 minutes ago?


“2 minute break”

6 Minutes later:

2 minute break ends. Ok I think we are ready for some voting. I am going to make it easy on myself and simply tell you what passes and what fails. For a description of the bills, click HERE.

O-51-07: Minor Construction Quick Permits. POSTPONED.
O-52-07: Historical Markers Commission. POSTPONED (I think).
O-53-07: Street and Sidewalk Closing Policies. POSTPONED.
O-54-07: Electrical System Upgrades. PASSES.
O-56-07: Green Buildings. PASSES with 8 amendments.
O-57-07: Updating Committee Responsibilities. PASSES.
O-60-07: Residence Requirement For Historic Preservation Commission. WITHDRAWN.
O-61-07: Grants For City Funding. FAILS.
O-62-07: New Year’s Annapolis, Inc. Lease. PASSES after a good amendment.
R-07-08: Commodore John Barry Park. PASSES.
R-08-08: Arts and Entertainment District***. PASSED on a 6-3 vote. But, only one vote short of postponement. VERY heated debate.
R-09-08: Waiving Fees For First Sunday Festivals. ?
R-10-08: Waiving Fees For Maryland Avenue Festivals. ?

***Alderman Paone lambasted the process of the map making for this silly district, earning him several new fans. The Capital and Sun reporters were writing fervently, so look for his quotes in the papers. Example: “If this were presented in a corporate board room, the person presenting it would be laughed out of the room. What the heck kind of proposal is that?”

Also, Alderman Arnett is lambasting Alderman Paone for his lambasting, but Alderman Arnett does not have a fan club, so his argument is invalid.

Legislation Passed On First Reader and Referred To Committee:

(I am assuming all of the following—I had to leave because it was after 11:00 and even though Mrs. Politics and I are not married, a happy wife = a happy life.)

R-11-08: Sailing Hall Of Fame
R-12-08: Reclassification (and raise) of Economic Affairs Director
R-14-08: Designation of Parole As Designated Neighborhood.
R-15-08: City Support For Mt. Olive Neighborhood BusinessWorks.
O-09-08: Operating Budget.
R-13-08: Capital Budget.
R-16-08: Fee Schedule.

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