Monday, June 22, 2009

City Council Public Hearing 6/22/09: Live Blog

Due to family obligations, I typically can't attend city council meetings, or anything else that happens on Monday nights. I can watch meetings on television and blog the telecast, but you might realize that at that point I would be blogging from my living room with no interaction with the underlying events, and perpetuating a stereotype that the International Bloggers Association, Local 505 has been trying to fight for some time now.

Much like George Washington, I have stepped up in a time of need. Showing great heroism, I bring you--back by popular demand--a great post--the people's post--a live blog!


The VIP section is already full and there aren't any chairs for Tony Evans. Effect on entertainment: -6.


There are a lot of people here, and I suspect they are not going to talk about anything on the public hearing agenda (ten year water and sewerage plan, the comprehensive plan, and support for the MD theatre for performing arts at park place). The Annapolis Business Association has been publicizing tonight as a chance to speak on R-47-09, which is a bill on first reader tonight that proposes to delay the implementation of new parking fees until August 1. I have been put on rumor alert that there may be an attempt to "fast track" the bill tonight, whereas "fast track" is defined as suspending the rules and voting on a bill all 3 times without a public hearing as would normally be required by, umm, the rules.


Breaking News! A member of the VIP crow--one who is actually a Mayoral candidate--just blackmailed me! He wouldn't let me plug in my laptop unless I updated him on an upcoming announcement from TV "reality" couple John and Kate (plus 8). They are getting divorced.


8 Minutes late so far. Effect on Entertainment: -4. However, there are a whole lot of people here, so the possible entertainment value could be high.


Just started. Standing room only crowd. There is somebody here talking about reusable grocery bags, for reasons known only to Sam Shropshire and Walter Williams*.

(*Walter Williams knows everything).


The Mayor is making a point to tell everyone that there are 3 bills on the agenda for public hearing. This is important because she knows that EVERYONE is hear to talk about the parking fees, and she wants to let them know that they are out of order.

For the first bill on public hearing, O-25-09, nobody testifies.


Alderman Paone asked the Mayor to change the agenda to take parking fees, because he has sense. The Mayor refused, because she has power. Alderman Cordle seconded Alderman Paone's motion, and Alderman Paone's shoulders were tired (from carrying Alderman Cordle...get it!! Funny.)


Alderman Paone just referenced the "possible" suspension of rules that I talked about earlier. This is why Alderman Paone has a fan club and nobody else does. Actually, I think I created a fan club for 1 other person, but I will have to check the blog archives to see who it was.


Something just happened that represents everything that is wrong with the management of the city. Alderman Finlayson said "don't we have to operate under a balanced budget, meaning if we take away the parking fee money, don't we have to find another way to get the money?". A normal person might say "yes, just cut the freeking budget! we all have to sacrifice". Alderman Stankivic, however, said "we can do what we did in the past: ask the finance director to shimmy things down". ASK THE FINANCE DIRECTOR TO SHIMMY THINGS DOWN! THIS IS HOW CAREFULLY THEY ARE SPENDING YOUR MONEY.


Alderman Arnett: "I have not yet heard of a mechanism" to make up the money in the budget if we cut these fees.


The mayor just asked Bob Burden to review some parking law called "12-04" and come up with revisions to the law. Following suit, I called my mortgage broker and asked him to choose a color to paint my guest bedroom. Tomorrow I will call to tell him that I don't have a guest bedroom. I don't even like guests.


Mayor: "Certain city employees are like certain business employees and cannot park elsewhere...they are in and out, in and out." This is in reference to the point that nearly 200 spaces in the Hillman garage are taken up by (non-paying?) city employees, in addition to the monthly passes held by businesses (that pay for them).


It's hard for me to hear because (1) the PA system is not that good and (2) the VIP crowd in the back is mumbling things under our breaths as if we have a crystal ball and already know each and every correct course of action for the next 25 years.


Listening to the council (and listening to the person sitting next to me*, from whom I am about to steal this quote), the council ONLY CARES ABOUT THE MONEY. They could give two 'you-know-whats' about the affect on business.

(*not the same person that blackmailed me).


Ok, R-47-09 passed on first, second, and third readers with the following attributes:

1. an amendment saying they have to find another funding source OR cut spending to equal the money they are losing for delaying the fees one month.
2. WITHOUT public testimony.
3. WITH a suspension of the rules that prevents public testimony.
4. 9-0 unanimous vote.

Implementation of parking fees are delayed one month.


Back to public hearings, now concering the comprehensive plan (R-32-09).

Citizen: "expand Aris T Allen to 3 lanes and put a 3 lane traffic circle at Forest/Chinquapin Round Road."

Mayor: "Forest Dr. is a county road. We have no control."

Doug Smith: "Specific Goals: 1. relocate 30% of parking spaces off of city dock by 2013. 2. Find a possible tram route and acquisition of property in next 2 years."

Mayor: "For your information, this is already planned and looked at."

Me: "Specific goal number 3: create City Economist position and fill it with a qualified blogger/amateur economist".


Arnett just worked in a mention of the Rules Committee. Kudos for that.

McFall: "Reduce amount and density of development. Limit most buildings to 1-3 stories tall".


Alderman Paone has not said anything for a while. I suspect he is planning for a break-out moment. I am waiting for confirmation that Aldermen Hoyle and Finlayson have said anything all night....discretion is the better part of valor? Whatever. Also noteworthy, Alderman Sam has not yet addressed the viewing audience; tens of viewers remain neglected.

Alderman Stankivic (to McFall): "If I hear you correctly, we should not be considering the principles of smart growth?"

McFall: "nothing smart about level of development in the comp. plan".

Shropshire: just referenced 4.2 million tourists, but not the viewing public.

Citizen: "appalled at scale of development".

Wardour Improvement Association: "less density. limit of 3 stories tall in West Annapolis 'opportunity area'. no tall buildings on Rowe Blvd".

West Annapolis Civic Association: "my thunder was seriously stolen (by the Wardour guy)".


Whoops, Alderman Finlayson said something.


It's ok, it's ok...she meant to do it.

(still public hearing for comprehensive plan.)

Bowling: "What is the impact of growth on education?", "low density and short buildings on West St. gateway".


I just looked up a section of the city code for fun.


Halfway through I realized it was not as much fun as I had hoped.

Alderman Arnett just referenced the rules committee, again. Enough is enough.

Samaras: "Use Samaras property for mix of recreation, local business."

Liles Creighton: "one of the clearest comprehensive plans ever seen, if not agreed to."

Liles Creighton: "annex land on West St. and up Aris T. Allen Blvd."

Liles Creighton: "plan fails to recognize that city is part of a larger entity called Greater Annapolis"

Last Liles comment: smart.

LC: "forget rail transportation."

Alderman Shropshire: "During my college days, I worked in France for 4 summers and stayed in hostiles." 3 sentences later, Alderman Sam was talking about streetcars. Amazingly quick transition.

Mike Dye: "traffic affects me every day."


Shropshire (to Stankivic): "Let me talk, Can I talk?"

Stankivic: "You're talking"

Shropshire: "Well, cut the acting"


(still a public hearing on the comp. plan)

Citizen: "you will not find a single citizen who wants 4 story buildings."

Shropshire: "We need more section 8 housing."


One citizen has been testifying for, probably, 30 minutes. I stopped paying attention after 12 seconds, and I do not apologize for that.

Cohen: "What if transit funding is not there?"


Alderman Cordle just stepped out. Is he leaving? If I'm still here, he'd better be here.


He's back.

Arnett: "Transportation is lynch pin of this comprehensive plan."

Shropshire: "County needs to lift the tax cap." He suggests that the county give the city money for transportation after lifting the cap.

The hearing for the comp plan is over! Now, hearing for R-33-09: Support of the Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts at Park Place.

Bob Burdon: Yes.

Park Place Residents: Yes. "The theatre is the star attraction of the Park Place community."

Park Place Lawyer: Yes. "1200 seat facility will house all types of performances."

Scott Bowling: Yes.

Citizen: Yes.

Ok...I'm done with this hearing. I am leaving to go get some food.

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