Monday, February 23, 2009

Public Hearing 2/23/09: Live Blog

Here again, all is well.

Welcome to the bi-monthly live blog of the exiting municipal proceedings of the Annapolis City Government. As always, anybody correctly guessing the ending time of the meeting is entitled to a complimentary sandwich prepared by one of my minions from the catering conglomerate that bought the computer I am typing with right now.

The call of capitalism was extra loud and extra early today, but I had an emergency cup of coffee late in the afternoon and some frosted mini-wheats (no milk) while I was driving over here, so I should have enough energy to see this post through, provided we aren't here past 11 pm.


We are starting and all the Aldermen are here. No nonsense, and we are in to public testimony right away.


CA-01-09: Technical Correction Charter Amendment.

-nobody testified

O-02-09: Technical Amendments to City Election Code.

-nobody testified

O-43-08: Business Community Identification Sign in Non-Residential Zoning Districts.

-I don't know what a "business community identification sign" is.

-Apparently it's an unofficial title that a group of businesses may want to bestow upon themselves, such as the "Annapolis Design District" as suggested by the person testifying now. This would theoretically attract people to the area. The bill would allow these signs.

-The planning commission recommends against the ordinance for a lack of specificity and because we already have sign laws. Arnett doesn't like the bill because it changes the laws of the whole city to benefit one specific ward and in fact just a few specific businesses.

-I've reached my 7 minute maximum of paying attention to the City Sign Code so I will not be paying attention again until the next bill comes up.


Update: they are still talking about signs. I am making revisions to menus. You can contact the city clerk to find out what they were talking about.


Ok, we're back.

O-01-09: Notification of BPA by Retailers

-This bill was dead but now it's back in a different form.

-Pro-business lobbyists are lobbying against the bill because it would negatively affect sales and is a pain in the ass to comply with. The Mayor is arguing with these lobbyists because she likes to argue, and perhaps because of other reasons.

-Alderman Arnett just referenced the surgeon general.

(Update #2: the following Alderman have not said anything yet at all today: Israel, Cordle, Stankivic, Shropshire.)

-Chemist: "consensus about safety of BPA", plus FDA is currently assessing the situation so let them finish

-Canada: "the general public need not be worried (about BPA) does not pose a health risk"

-Arnett: what the rest of the world thinks doesn't matter because we have different consumption patterns than them

-Chemist: consumption patterns are close enough

-Blogger (passionately): report referenced by the city says that there isn't any data for what BPA would do to humans, and city doesn't have the resources or expertise to figure out what the data might be, plus there are a lot of things that are dangerous and we don't require signs for those, plus it's not the city's job to warn people about this.


O-07-09: Compensation of Mayor and Aldermen

-bill would increase mayoral pay by 70% and aldermanic pay by 50%

-aldermanic candidate: "strong opposition", "out of touch with current economic climate", "pure and simple economic irresponsibility"

-Cordle: "public service should not be penalized"

-It's somewhat stunning that many people are taking the position that $70,000 can't put food on the table. It might not buy you the life you want, but that's a decent living. That being said, I think these people need to make more money. If there isn't a city manager, the city administrator should be eliminated and the mayor should make $120,000 because that position would be doing everything. A major reason for supporting the city manager proposal is that by hiring a professional manager, you can make sure that your $120,000 buys someone qualified. But since the council killed that proposal, here we are.

-Most arguments about this are political, such as "they don't deserve this", or "this isn't the right time to be giving a raise of this amount". But the fact is, the pay won't be adjusted again for 4 years, and this recession will (knock on wood) be a distant memory at that point. The elected positions are underpaid now, even given the assumption that all elected positions will be underpaid in relation to the private market. And not only does the new compensation have to make up for the positions being underpaid, it has to cover a 4 year period, as it won't be raised each year.

-Arnett: "never a good time" for increases in elected official pay

-There seems to be some sensible discussion about having incremental increases (pre approved).

-There is a logical argument against the bill that we do not have a problem with recruiting, therefore we do not need to move along the demand curve (offer a bigger salary) to attract more people. The caveat would be that we are more likely to attract a qualified candidate if the offer is for more money.

-The mayor is quick to emphasize that the commission recommending a $120,000 mayoral salary was making a value recommendation, whereas the council clearly must make a political decision.

-Finlayson: "we need to stop thinking of paying our Mayor and Aldermen as something dirty or foul"


Alderman Sam just referred to his own quote in the newspaper, but this does not fulfill his quota of addressing the viewing public on television.


Alderman Paone just called out Alderman Sam for "BEGGING" the compensation committee to double his pay, then denying it in front of this television audience! Incredible! I mean Alderman Paone is really laying into him. Perhaps most impressive is how Alderman Paone worked in the viewing audience before Alderman Sam did!! "You are saying something 180 degrees different than what you said at that meeting"!! Tune in to the TV broadcast right now because my hands are tired and I can explain the drama that is going on.


Shout out to all my old homeboys in ward 5.

-Israel: we should be taking this up along with the budget process.


-The chairman of the compensation committee just said that she knows that there were people waiting to announce their candidacy for mayor because they were waiting to see how much it would pay.

We are about to start some voting.

R-60-08: Waiving $210,000 in permit fees for the Lighthouse Shelter. Amended to waiving only $123,000. PASSES 7-2 (Cordle, Stankivic)

O-08-09: Lease of City Property To Cricket Communications (allows a cell phone tower on the top of a water tank for 5 years for $42,000, it would appear): PASSES ON FIRST READER.

R-14-09: Requesting That The School Board Continue To Let Us Use Their Schools For Elections. PASSES ON FIRST READER, THEN RULES SUSPENDED AND PASSED FOR REAL. 9-0.

Meeting adjourns at 10:35.


Anonymous said...

Are we talking about attracting a qualified candidate for a position or one for political office? It is apparent that politically we did not seek any qualifications last time!

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of observations on the meeting.

First, why did the Mayor leave, almost right after testimony on BPA started, only to return the minute it was over. It was almost as though she stood outside the room, waiting to hear when it was done. I thought that was incredibly rude, since she's the sponsor of that legislation.

Second, the head of the compensation committee said that she knows of, "people who waiting to announce their candidcy for Mayor, depending on the outcome of the salary increase". Exactly who are these people she talks about. And, if she knows of such potential candidates (Josh comes to mind), does she plan to support these same people in the election. If so, it suggests that her recommendations may have been colored by a desire to support a particular individual. There may be nothing to it, but it just struck me as odd that the head of the compensation committee was apparently worried about the ability of "specific" individuals to run, as part of her determination in proposing a salary level for the Mayor.

Third, I'm not a McFall backer, but I think she, and Dennis Conti, made valid points about why a $50,000 pay increase for the Mayor may not be necessary. I think Trudy was especially effective in pointing out that money isn't the only driving force behind someone's desire to be Mayor. This isn't only true for politics. Many of us are more concerned with doing what we love, rather that seeking out only the jobs that have the highest pay.

Bob McWilliams

Anonymous said...

Beth Garraway, committee chair, is a Cohen supporter. Steve Raabe, committee member, is a paid Cohen consultant. This mega pay raise is to make the job worthwhile for Josh, not about good government. Anyone who doesn't see through this outrage is blind.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked Ms. Garraway about her support of Cohen, or are we just supposed to turn a blind eye, as with all the the people who have receceived financial benefit from the Mayor.

Bob McWilliams

Anonymous said...

I realize there is a, thread I believe you call the thoughts focused on the body language and other granularity, to this particular discussion but I cannot help but feel there is a complicated spanner in the works in the upcoming elections worthy of discussion.

With the historic turnout in the previous presidential elections, won't the jiggaboos constitute a deciding bloc in the upcoming election, particularly if one follows their populations within the city limits?

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