Welcome to the first live blog of 2009! I have immediately exploited my VIP contacts, learning that the boat show lease is due to be given without at least one of the parties being heard by the economic matters committee. The agenda for today's meeting confirms that the bills containing the underlying leases have not been given a recommendation by committee, a process that usually takes place prior to a bill receiving a final vote.
Also, I asked Tony Evans what he thought about Aldermanic term limits, and he said "We have term limits--they are called elections." I laughed*.
(*With political humor, you have to take what you can get.)
Pretty sparse attendance tonight. The mayor and Alderman Paone just walked in together, and both are wearing light blue shirts. I like to think they met for an afternoon tea and coordinated their attire.
All the Alderman are here, as is the city attorney, having recently regained his certification.
Attendance has picked up a bit. Amongst the audience are a baby and a dog, prompting a race between the Republican and Democrat Central Committees to get new voter registrations.
While I have a chance, allow me to introduce a new game. Anybody correctly guessing the ending time (to the minute) of a city council meeting will receive a complimentary tray of pulled pork bbq from my restaurant! Additionally, anybody correctly guessing the amount of next year's budget (within $20,000) will win a fully catered party!
The dogs in the audience are actually fire department dogs, and each of them won first place in one of the past 2 years (respectively) in a fire dog competition in Florida. We witnessed a demonstration where one of the dogs found and removed a tennis ball from a floor grate, an act that certainly must have been approved by city engineers so as not to damage the structural integrity of City Hall.
The Mayor announced that the city settled a lawsuit against it regarding Moreland Parkway. Basically, Moreland Pkwy was a road that nobody wanted to take responsibility for, and potholes would happen all the time because neither the city, nor the county, nor any private interests maintained the road. I remember one day where one of the business owners from that street stood in the middle of the road in protest, and I imagine that the lawsuit was soon to follow. The Mayor informs us that, as a result of the settlement, the city is taking title to the street, and has to pay $60,000 to somebody--implicitly to make up for the fact that they were wrong in the matter.
Alderman Israel, on behalf of the rules committee, has endorsed the consideration and juxtaposition of two city manager bills before the council: CA-5 and CA-6. (The better one is CA-5). He recommends quick action, so if the voters want to try and petition the matter to a referendum, they can do so before the election.
On a side note, the committees are actually reporting today, which is in stark contrast to the norm, where they say when they are meeting next, and why the last meeting was cancelled.
I have been informed by a blog follower that Alderman Sam announced his candidacy for Mayor on Facebook today, and plans to announce formally at the City Dock on Friday. Sadly, I cannot confirm this because Alderman Sam and I are not Facebook Friends, but I am inclined to endorse this supposition on the grounds that (1) he is ambitious and (2) it comes with more money and power than Ward 7 Alderman.
It's time for the public to speak (out of turn). Doug Smith wants an expanded discussion and debate on the city manager issue. On a related note, I wonder how many worthwhile ideas are killed because of excessive red tape, prolonged unproductive discussion, etc., resulting in the people who originally came up with the idea to say 'screw it' because they don't feel like dealing with this anymore**.
(**This very process was the manner in which I finally secured Mrs. Politics' phone number.)
Tony Evans is speaking, and just said that he is training a Rottweiler to sniff out fiscal irresponsibility amongst politicians. Earlier tonight (and this is true), after asking me about my my New Year's celebrations, informed me that he had two blind dates on New Year's Eve. He denies that they were on the same eve, but I think he is being modest. Oh, and he is making good points as well.
I believe that there is a sewer pipe broken somewhere around here. Decorum prevents a written description of the evidence that has led me to this belief.
I have received 2 guesses for the guess-the-end-time-of-the-meeting-and-win-pulled-pork-game. The first guess, submitted via blog comment, is for 9:54. The second guess comes in the form of a secret ballot, and is for 8:42--a time that soon may vanish considering the public is still gallivanting around the speaking podium and the council has yet to vote on anything.
And now to the business of legislating. Alderman Arnett has added R-03-09 even though it was not on the agenda. This is harmless and potentially useful. Alderman Paone throws in a 'no' vote on first reader, likely for comic purposes.
CA-01-01: Technical Correction of A Previsouly Repealed Charter Amendment: first reader passage.
O-02-09: Technical Amendments to City Election Code: first reader passage.
CA-02-09: Aldermanic Term Limits:
Omg Alderman Hoyle just went off! She outed Cordle's run for mayor (even though he's out), then admonished Stankivic for singling her out. "I guess I should take it as a compliment from my Alderwoman across the room that I'm doing such a good job", declared Hoyle in a statement that was somewhat confusing considering the point she wanted to make. Corlde says that he has not officially declared for Mayor, so it could affect him too. Ooohhh it FAILS ON FIRST READER! INCREDIBLE! The vote:
Stankivic vows it will go to referendum! High drama!
O-27-08: Requirements Applicable to the Expansion of Certain Residential Uses in the Waterfront Mixed Maritime and Waterfront Maritime Eastport Zoning Districts: PASSES. 9-0 vote.
O-28-08: Posting of Property When Required Under the Zoning Code: PASSES. 9-0 vote.
O-30-08: Clarifying Duties of Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Programs and Public Works Administration. --amendments--. This bill has a sprinkler requirement in there, which is sparking a lot of debate. Depending on how the amendments go, you will have to install a sprinkler system if you do a renovation affecting either 50% or 25% of either your living space or your home's market value. If I'm honest, I haven't been paying attention because (1) I have been doing some capitalism-related personal activities and (2) I live in a tree house that has neither running water nor market value. PASSES. 9-0 vote.
The motion to postpone the bill fails, despite the fact that it has not come out of committee. Voting for postponement were Israel, Stankivic, and Arnett, and the rest want to do it tonight. Arnett's stance is that they can decide who gets the lease tonight, but they should reserve the right to change what's in the lease because both lease proposals leave the city exposed to risk.
Alderman Paone just asked the city attorney some questions about the potential boat show leases. He didn't respond verbally, but made a face resembling a contestant on Fear Factor who has just been asked to take a bath with scorpions. He then declared that he can't comment at this time.
Alderman Hoyle has arbitrarily become very animated, and appears to want to decide (at least) who gets the lease, tonight.
Sam and Julie are about to bicker. Note to readers: Sam and Julie are not first graders arguing over the pink hula-hoop, they are on the city council.
Alderman Sam has not yet addressed the television viewing public, but I think I speak for Trudy McFall and myself when I say that we are not going anywhere until he gives us something to look forward to when we review the telecast of this meeting on our DVR's tomorrow morning.
Ok, the lease is given to the person who currently holds it: Ed Hartman and United States Sailboat/Powerboat Shows. The legal manifestation of this was a 6-3 vote passing O-35-08. Voting 'no' (i.e. for City Dock Productions) were Israel, Stankivic, and Arnett. This is sad news, in my estimation. O-36-08 is consequently voted down.
O-38-08: Residential and Commercial Recycling. --amendments--. PASSES. 9-0 vote.
O-01-09: Notification of (the chemical) BPA by Retailers (again?): first reader passage.
R-49-08: Job Description and Pay Grade for Hispanic Community Liason. PASSES. 8-1 vote (Stankivic).
R-50-08: Job Description and Pay Grade for Police External Affairs Officer. --amendments--PASSES. 9-0 vote.
R-60-08: Waiver of Fees for the light House Homeless Prevention Support Center. Alderman Hoyle sees this as "every person making a contribution to this cause", ignoring the fact that it is more accurately the government compelling the citizens to make a contribution without express consent. I suppose this is the result of the representative government process, but Hoyle's attitude is nonetheless noteworthy.
The finance committee has not heard this matter (which amounts to over $200,000), and Alderman Israel found the law that says the finance committee must hear the matter. The mayor wants to ignore the law and is still calling for a motion. Alderman Hoyle, the finance committee chair, says she doesn't know why they have to do this because it wouldn't matter what they think. How about this...it doesn't matter what she thinks because it is the law. Therefore, this bill is POSTPONED as a matter of law and not the result of a vote.
R-02-09: Honoring the Late Barbara Neustadt. PASSES (on all 3 readers after suspension of rules). 8-0 vote. (Stankivic abstains.)
R-04-09: Job Description and Pay Grade for Environmental Compliance Inspector. first reader passage.
R-05-09: Redevelopment of Obery Court Public Housing. first reader passage.
R-03-09: Review of City Property Leases: first reader passage.
There is an appointment and some civil service board minutes, neither of which I have seen.
10:25: Adjournment. Nobody wins the game.