Reporting here, from the newly frigid city hall, it’s me. While the air conditioner now works, there is still no wireless internet at city hall, and my efforts to “borrow” an internet signal from a nearby wireless router have all come up dryer than my sense of humor.
The VIP crowd is large, with many luminaries hurrying to make appearances before the city council goes on August break. Smartly, I arrived 34 minutes early to leave plenty of time for myself to obtain a proper seat and a diet coke.
All aldermen are in attendance. During roll call, six say “here”, and two say “present”.
I have never seen anything weirder than what is happening now. A local historian Arthur something-or-other is the first speaker, and he is having a dialogue with Alderman Shropshire in French. I have no idea what they are saying, because it’s in French. I gather that they are talking about something related to France, because they are speaking in French.
A representative from the Key School, a private school located outside of city limits, is speaking before the council requesting that the city issue a $9.7 million bond on the school’s behalf. The city, according to the man speaking, would not be on the hook for repayment of the bond; rather the school would make the bond payments and pay all city fees incurred by the issuance. Such an action would render the bond payments tax-deductible for the school. The justification is that the school has many ties to the city.
Finance director Tim Elliot informs us that this is called conduit debt. He also says that the school comes to the city because it's cheaper—the city merely asks that the school pay the related fees, whereas the county charges an additional fee for the process. Such a fee would of course be appropriate, since the city would be burdened with paperwork and other mundane tasks associated with the tactic.
If the city grants such a request, I will instruct my legal and financial braintrust to immediately move forward with a request for conduit debt on behalf of my company, because tax-deductible principal payments would be fabulous.
Even though this is a legislative meeting, people can speak about whatever they want, if they want. I favor restricting free speech in this matter, because it can be after 9:00 before we get to the legislation, then everyone gets tired, then items get postponed, and pretty soon there is a city council meeting every Monday instead of every other Monday, and Mrs. Politics begins to wonder if “5-4 vote” is my code word for a secret girlfriend.
The mayor hates these people too, and reminds people that there are public hearing meetings. Today many people are here to gripe about the sidewalk tax, and the mayor has hinted several times that there is no vote on the matter today, nor is the public hearing today, plus there is a special work session for this next Monday. But this is sure to fail, and I may need another diet coke.
City roads are maintained by the city. City sidewalks, which border city roads, are currently maintained by private citizens. Am I the only person that finds this odd? Why is having homeowners maintain their own sidewalks less ridiculous than having them maintain their own roads? The city’s mistake, in my view, was to tie their responsibility to this silly $25 fee. Develop a comprehensive sidewalk plan, with enough room for parents to push strollers by trees, figure out how much it costs, and pay for it out of the general fund. If you don’t have enough money, cut some other nonsense and free up some money.
Alderman Finlayson verbally engaged with a citizen! Betters in Vegas received a 50-1 payout for that rarity. The VIP crowd is frantically searching for a teleprompter that she may have read.
People are still testifying. Maybe we need to have 2 public hearings a month. More frustrating is the fact that there is no wireless internet in here. I demand accountability….where is Ray Weaver…….
Ray Weaver just walked in! Amazing. He is kind of far away though….I’ll just send him an email.
The mayor has admitted that the communication of the tax and the implementation of it were flawed. She has thus far stuck to her guns that the public had their fair shot at the bill, and she certainly has not hinted that she favors repeal of the tax.
Voting--at the legislative meeting that started at 7:30--begins.
Alderman Israel moves to postpone CA-01-08, the City Administrator charter amendment, in favor of further deliberation including a possible change to a city manager form of government. Alderman Shropshire jumps on the city manager bandwagon—that will be an interesting vote if/when it comes up because the mayor will oppose it but there are clearly Democrats that support it.
O-59-07: Amending the configuration of harbor lines: PASSES. Vote 6-2 (Cordle, Stankivic, I think. Didn’t hear Paone.)
O-10-08: Banning the sale of phosphorus lawn fertilizers: PASSES (didn’t hear the roll call).
O-12-08: Requiring Fiscal Impact Notes For All Legislation: PASSES. (8-0, Arnett abstained).
O-15-08: fails to receive a 'second'.
R-20-08: fee schedule for lawn fertilizer ordinance: PASSES. (9-0)
R-25-08: Waiving Fees for West Annapolis Octoberfest: PASSES. (9-0)
R-29-08: NEW SISTER CITY IN BRAZIL! PASSES. (6-3..Paone, Cordle, Stankivic). Let me tell you something that is not a joke: Alderman Shropshire just justified this sister city through possible reciprocal benefits including the development of bio-fuels.
R-30-08: Supporting State Financing of Admiral Oaks Rehabilitation: PASSES (6-2..Paone, Stankivic. Finlayson abstains.)
First Reader Passages:
O-20-08: Updating Lease for Chesapeake Marine Tours.
O-21-08: Repeal of Sidewalk Tax: PASSES.
O-22-08: Modifying Residential Parking District.
O-23-08: Requiring non-profit grant recipients to file quarterly reports.
O-24-08: Lease of City Dock For 2008 Kunta Kinte Festival. Note: even though the council has not allowed through ordinance the use of the city dock as a location, it is already set in stone according to the Annapolis 300 web site. Don’t count your chickens!
O-25-08: Limited Additions for Non-Conforming Duplexes.
O-26-08: Requiring non-profits to file BIANNUAL reports. THIS IS THE SAME AS THE BILL JUST PASSED 3 BILLS AGO, EXCEPT TWICE A YEAR INSTEAD OF 4 TIMES A YEAR. Everyone in the room is confused, especially after the mayor just said there is already a law requiring them to report.
R: 32-08: Enhancement of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum
R-33-08: Amending Sidewalk Fees
R-34-08: Sidewalk Improvements and Fees