Sunday, May 18, 2008

City Council Meeting Preview: 5/19

The city council's "we don't work on holidays or in August" policy still carries full weight, and the public hearing that would normally be held on the 4th Monday has been moved up to tomorrow for Memorial-Day-related reasons. Hopefully I can make the meeting late, but I probably won't be on time--you may know that this is Commissioning Week, and the 3 million people who come to Annapolis need food, which I am happy to sell to them.

The full agenda can be seen HERE. For those of you who, like myself, enjoy the fiber optic entertainment package that is Verizon Fios, you can watch the meeting on channel 34! If you do so, here is what to watch for:


O-59-07- changing a the boundaries of a harbor line.

O-10-08- prohibiting the sale of lawn fertilizer that contains phosphorus. Here's what I know about phosphorus: it was crucial to the plot in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles. I'll tell you what--it's good enough for my yard. Predictably, this was sponsored by Mayor Moyer, who I'm convinced recently read the book "Second Term Mayors Sponsor Environmental Legislation", written by George Bush.

The city's justification for this is "whereas the city finds that regulating the amount of nutrients and contaminants, including phosphorus contained in fertilizer entering the bay will improve water quality as envisioned under the Clean Water Act and the Chesapeake 2000 agreement". Here's the thing--who knows if this is appropriate? (Answer: not me. Maybe someone.) But, in many cases the city is too quick to regulate when they "find" that a certain action should be taken. If the city did an effects of fertilizer phosphorus on Bay water study, I will give you a million dollars. Yet, they are about to place the burden on consumers and businesses. If this is really the solution, prove it before you mandate it.

The proposed per incident fines are $100 for a violating resident, $500 for a violating commercial entity, and $500 for a business that sells the phosphorus fertilizer improperly or without signage!

O-12-08- requiring fiscal impact notes for all ordinances, resolutions, and charter amendments (i.e. everything). This sounds great to me...the way it works now is that any alderman can request a fiscal impact note, but a lot of times they all think that someone else has already requested it, and by the time they realize they don't know how the proposed bill affects the budget, everyone is cranky and nobody wants to postpone the vote so they just vote on the bill without knowing how it affects the money!

That it for the public hearings. However, what they will do after that is the most important thing they will do all year! They will vote on the final version of the budget, along with capital projects and fees. They will also ratify a union contract that determines salaries and wages, which drive 85% of the budget! I don't know if there's anything that can be done at this point if there were objections to the budget, but that's what they'll be doing.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back! and thank you for exposing te prozak king what what he is.
Anonymous and PROUD

Anonymous said...

There's this wonderful thing call the "Internets", and it has a lot of information on it, so the wheel need not be continually reinvented.

Rather than have the City do a study, which you would surely decry as a waste of taxpayer dollars, a simple google search can provide you with your heart's content of data, such as this, from the EPA (

Brian Gill said...

I looked at the link, and it indeed verifies that phosphorus is harmful. The language in the bill says that the goal is to reduce "non point source pollution", and the EPA link you gave says that the EPA is giving grants for reducing non point source pollution.

So, maybe the city could get money for doing this, and maybe it could use that money to reduce the tax rate. But the bill makes no mention of this, and we do not know how, if at all, the city is working with the EPA.

My main point was that the connection between a piece of legislation and how it solves a problem is often not adquately established.

Anonymous said...

The bill blocks the use of phosphorus fertilizer. Less phosphorus fertilizer means less nutrient pollution in the Bay. And voila!

Brian Gill said...

Again, that is only half of the story. I am not arguing that phosphorus is not bad for the bay. What is there was a phosphorus filter that collected all the phosphorus runoff before it reached the bay? What if mandating that phosphorus fertilizer be used only in the spring and fall, when the ground is absorbent, resulted in the phosphorus being totally absorbed and not diverted to water?

The point is not that phosphorus is good. The point is that in almost every circumstance, the city immediately burdens businesses without even paying lip service to collaborative options and with minimal justification for their policies.

Anonymous said...

What responsibility, do you think, that businesses have to be socially responsible in their actions? Why is it only with the involvement of government that most businesses will curb their anti-social behaviors?