Monday, September 14, 2009

City Council Meeting 9/14/09: Live Blog!

Many people tell me that the live blogs are their favorite feature on this blog. I am proud of that compliment, because turning the painfully boring into something useful and interesting is a key skill for anyone seeking a future career in economics. Some people have told me that they follow the live blog while watching the telecast of the meeting on television. Wow. In some jurisdictions that's known as 'double jeopardy', and is prohibited by law. I haven't heard of that much masochism since Mrs. Politics agreed to go on a first date with me more than 3 years ago*.
(Within 2 weeks of that first date, Mrs. Politics left for Spain--with a one way ticket and no plans to return. This is a true story.)


There is a work session going on right now, preceding the council meeting. Arthur, the historian whose last name I don't know, came up to me expressing anger. Trudy McFall, he says, always brags about how she goes to everything. "Is she here now?". Technically he is correct, but I pretended to ignore him just so he knows that he can't be a ghost writer of this blog.


Arthur just asked Tony Evans "what if there's inflation". I will now permanently ignore him.


Actually, deflation is a scary thing. I think it's scarier than inflation and I'll tell you why. With the case of inflation, the economy and the authorities can react. Employers can raise salaries to keep up with cost of living, banks can raise the interest rate on loans so that they make a real (meaning inflation-adjusted) profit, and central banks can raise their target interest rate to try and 'ease the expansionary pressure'. If you have deflation, it's harder to do the opposite. It's more painful and difficult to lower wages, even if the cost of living falls more than wages and your standard of living increases. Plus, interest rates don't rarely go below 0%. Banks would have to be SURE of deflation to actually pay you to take a loan. Conclusion: inflation and deflation are both scary. Inflation is the bigger concern now.


ALERT: SHROPSHIRE PLANS TO RE INTRODUCE CITY MANAGER BILL. So far nobody support him, including Doug Smith apparently.


An early start! Not a heavy crowd, but several luminaries. All elected officials are here. Alderman Israel sports a fresh haircut and receives a compliment from the Mayor. How nice. I have since learned that when receiving his new buzz cut, he requested "give me the Doug Smith". Funny.


A new 2 a.m. bill is on first reader, and there are people here who do not like this. The mayor knows this, and tries to deflect some ire by reminding people that there will be a public hearing for this bill, and that hearing is not taking place right now. As a result of her suggestion, nobody did anything different.


There are several council meeting hallmarks to look for when you are watching a meeting. The most famous is Alderman Shropshire addressing the crowd on television, but there's also Stankivic voting "no" on a first reader, committee chairmen cancelling their meetings, Alderman Paone growing another 6 inches, and the city attorney declining to comment on something. Tonight, I'm looking for something special--more than 2 Alderman asking to be added as co-sponsors to any bill submitted by Alderman Israel, an event that reflects the belief that Israel actually researched the legislation he submitted.


The public is now allowed to speak. First is candidate Cohen, opposing the 2 AM bill (on first reader). He pledges that, if Mayor, and if this bill passes, he will try to repeal the law when he becomes mayor.

THIS will tell you about 95% of what you need to know about the 2 AM "Bar Wars" back story.


A common theme is that even for things that might make sense, we should wait for the next council to consider it. I guess this makes sense for big issues, but city government shouldn't shut down just because there's a campaign going on.

(Note: There is a campaign going on. The primary is tomorrow.)


Arthur is telling the council the same thing he told me earlier. They seem equally appreciative of the information.


Minor Carter: Midnight bars knew what they were getting into when they opened.


Alderwoman Finlayson just made a surprisingly lucid argument, asking Minor "we make changes all the time to laws that were previously in place...are you telling me we shouldn't consider ever changing anything". I use the word "lucid" in the hopes that it means logical--I apologize for not knowing the meaning of the word, it's just that there's not that many chances to use the word 'logical' or any of its synonyms while at a city council meeting.


Tony Evans: The Market House is an example of why outgoing councils shouldn't decide on things. Tony calls Ward 1 a "tax colony" for the rest of the city, perpetuating the Ward 1 superiority syndrome that has plagued Annapolis for longer than this blog can document.


Ugh, more people are testifying against the 2 am bill, and my fingers are getting tired of typing. So, until something different happens, I am not going to type. Here is how it works. There is a certain population of Ward 1 who really does not want more 2 am licenses. They claim that the extra 2 hours of being opened cause exponential damage to their flower pots, and overall quality of life. Broadly, they are not all that interested in suggestions to enforce the laws (i.e. nuisance, vandalism) that already exist, or to recognize that parking reform could be a solution--since most people who urinate in flower pots do so on the way back to their illegally parked cars. They also tend to define fairness not necessarily as a level playing field for businesses, but as full disclosure of the unfairness at the time of inception of the business.

I tend to think of this as a squeaky wheel problem...the people who vigorously oppose this are also the people who come to meetings and are politically active. If you surveyed every citizen of Annapolis--not to mention the tourists on whom the city depends to create revenue--and more than 25% of those people opposed the 2 AM idea, I would do the unthinkable and let a Ward 1'er actually write a paragraph on this blog!


While various citizens debate with various Aldermen, let me take a moment to address a comment I received on my last post. The commenter suggests that blogging is so "passe", suggesting that I should "twitter" the proceedings of the meeting. I want to nip this idea in the but. For those of you that don't know, Twitter is a torture mechanism created by the Internet itself aimed at making obsolete the social networking site you just learned about, and making you feel inferior for not understanding what is a tool of only modest effectiveness.

The Internet has become self-aware, much like the robot in I Robot and the computer in War Games. First it created MySpace, which was replaced by Facebook due to the latter's ability to weed out creepy people. Sadly, Facebook actually requires people to mutually acknowledge that they are friends in real life before they can be friends on the web site. With Twitter, you can search for your favorite celebrity, non-celebrity, friend, victim, or other entity, then unilaterally sign up to "follow" that person, which allows you to receive 140-letter updates of what the person you are following is doing or thinking at any given time.

Twitter is useful in some circumstances, but one outlet for me to articulate my brain activity is more than adequate.


In my life, I have heard the words "Ward 1 Sector Study" just as many times as I have heard the words "would you like a lime in that", a correlation that highlights the measures a sane person must take to counteract the effect of political involvement.


Voting Time.

Shropshire moves to add CA-08-09, a new city manager charter amendment.

They are doing something regarding the new parking fees but it's not on the agenda and I can't hear what they're saying.

O-25-09: Requires the Public Works Department to establish and implement at 10-year water and sewer plan. PASSES 9-0.

O-32-09: Directs the order of voting for a roll call to be a "rotating sequence". FAILS 5-4 (I think...the PA system is too damn inaudible.) (voting no: Moyer, Israel, Cordle, Stankivic, Arnett).

Bills Passed on First Reader:

O-27-09: 2 AM licenses.
O-50-09: Lease of dock space for a sailboat race.
O-52-09: Rules for foreclosure properties.
R-56-09: Fines to accompany the foreclosure ordinance.
R-54-09: To declare September 2009 as "Family Day"! (Not a joke). Rules suspended. "Family Day" adopted on final reader.

There are some appointments and budget revisions that you may want to look at, perhaps particularly Carl Snowden to the HACA board.

September 28th meeting moved to October 5 because of Yom Kippur.

910: adjournment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's my favorite part of the blog.