Monday, June 9, 2008

City Council Meeting: 6/9

Holy hell. In my preview post for this meeting, I made a smart-ass comment about how the air conditioner would surely be under performing during this meeting. To my fabulous dismay, I was right! According to PIO Weaver, a compressor was struck by lightning, and is currently not working. So, we have what you see below.

Mr. Weaver has assured us that the device was indeed not the prototype for a new energy-saving HVAC unit at the market house, a proposition that is gaining mythical status with the VIP crowd in the back of the room.

Sadly, I literally cannot hear anything on account of the wind turbine located to my left. I could sing 99 Bottles Of Beer on the Wall out loud and nobody would know.


The city attorney has instructed me to unplug the turbines so we can hear what is going on. Back in business!


Alderman Cordle has moved to postpone the majority of the meeting, citing a thermostat reading of 94 degrees. We are still going to hear from the public, and vote on a couple of things including the budget.


Finance Committee Recommendations:

-do not raise taxes
-maintain tax rate and balance budget
-crime demands attention (funding)
-“seed” and “matching” money for non-profits
-specifics to come in a future post


One of the finance committee recommendations is to cut the “Arts in Public Places” funding from $68,000 to $35,000, and somebody representing that outfit is testifying in a spirited manner against such an action, citing their requested burden on the general fund as around one tenth of one percent. The council is giving her kudos, but this is probably already a done deal. They have been deliberating for a while, and have a requirement to pass the budget soon. Alderman Shropshire just “pledged to work for full funding” for the group, perhaps emptily, perhaps not.


While conceding that an officer on the street is probably worth more than art on a wall, an Arts fellow just make a pitch that their programs involve the community, and therefore make the communities safer. He made another (valid) argument that can be simplified as this:

Recently approved tax breaks for entertainment arts district combined with cuts to arts funding does not make sense.


Tony Evans, my #2 favorite Democrat, just made a variety of fiscally responsible points, managing to use “elasticity” and “embargo” in the same city-government related sentence.


Trudy McFall may be on to something. The finance committee wants to cut public safety funding to HACA but agreed to fund non-profits that didn’t even apply for money. To quote her (roughly): “I think this makes a great statement about your priorities”.


Budget voting starts.


There is still an embargo on cold air.


Alderman Israel, apparently moved by citizen testimony or other factors, moves to break the conglomeration of finance committee amendments to isolate the Arts funding and the intern program funding into their own votes. That motion passes 5-4 (Moyer, Israel, Hoyle, Finlayson, Shropshire).


The finance committee amendments save the 2 mentioned above pass as a whole, by the same margin as above and with the same yea and nay voters.


Now under consideration is a motion to restore the funding of the Arts in Public Places to the orginal $68,000. Alderman Paone is now arguing that such an action would be bullcrap, that the finance committee thought long and hard about the reduction, that we don’t have the money to fund the program, and that the success or wonderful-ness of programs is not the primary consideration given our economic situation.


Alderman Shropshire is now firing back at Alderman Paone, seizing an opportunity to prolong the discomfort that is the ambient temperature right now.


Alderman Israel launches into dialogue regarding the historical precedent of giving money to the Arts program, announcing “I have not yet heard a reason why a cut of this magnitude is being implemented on……”, but before he could finish, Alderman Stankivic zealously thrusted her hand in the air, causing Alderman Israel to observe “Maybe we are about to hear”.


They are still debating the Arts in Public Places cash. It's kind of annoying that they haven’t figured this out yet and that they are having the debate now, but I guess it’s a good thing that the recommendations of a 3 person committee are not given carte blanche when it comes to spending the taxpayers’ hard-earned.


Yes to restore arts funding: Moyer, Israel, Hoyle, Finlayson, Shropshire.

No: Paone, Cordle, Stankivic, Arnett.*

(*Notice a pattern? Also, I am highly surprised that they would pass a motion of this nature on the floor at this time.)


The finance committee has recommended removing the city intern program to achieve a savings of $60,000. Alderman Israel is upset because he promised money to some prospective interns. Cordle points out that interns are valuable but they would still work for free to boost their resumes. Paone moves to restore half of the funding, $30,000. The funny thing is, the funding for the intern program for this year was only $20,000, which means that $30,000 would be A 50 PERCENT INCREASE IN THE PROGRAM.


Paone moves to cut the $84,000 budget of the city magazine, calling it a “puff piece” that we could “perhaps” afford to fund in later times! That is a no-nonsense thing to say, which is why Alderman Paone is the only alderman to have a fan club. The Mayor is furious, calling the magazine the “public relations dollars for every department”, which doesn’t quite make sense. I believe her argument is that it is necessary communications with the public.


Ray Weaver just brought me a glass of cold water, which is a no-nonsense thing to do, and is another reason why he is the only appointed city official with a fan club.


Alderman Shropshire keeps saying that we can spend more money because the budget will be down by 1%, which is not proper reasoning even if it is correct.

Also, the mayor could not be more annoyed that this amendment has been proposed.


The magazine motion failed.


Oooh Alderman Cordle just called Alderman Israel out for considering a previously unheard budget motion on the floor after promising not to do so.


Moyer and Cordle are getting a little feisty with each other. Once I got feisty with Mrs. Politics and the result was not favorable.


Cordle said he is not voting for the budget, and Mayor questioned why, since Cordle is on the finance committee and can drive policy. But of the 3 votes, 2 are Democrats, so it is not surprising that Cordle would get voted down.


So, the above statement basically accused Alderman Shropshire of voting along party lines in the finance committee meetings. He just said this: “To all of my constituents of Ward 7 who may be watching on TV, I have just been accused of voting along party lines in finance committee meetings. I am not here to support the wishes of just Democrats—I represent the interests of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in Ward 7. Doing what is right is the most important thing.” All I’m saying is: tone it down a bit.


Operating Budget, as amended, final vote:

Yes: Moyer, Israel, Hoyle, Finlayson, Shropshire

No: Paone, Cordle, Stankivic, Arnett


Now, the Capital Budget. Israel moves to break capital grant to Historic Annapolis Foundation into a separate item. Capital budget without the HAF grant passes.

Motion to restore bond funding of HAF to next FY is made. Passes.


Budget fees resolution (R-16-08) passes.

R-27-08 passes.

R-28-08 passes.

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