Monday, December 14, 2009

City Council Meeting 12/14/09: Live Blog

It works!  I'm here...with a new computer, a new internet connection, a new city council, and a new the same cynicism that has vaulted this blog to the 56th most popular local political blog in the General's Highway Corridor!


Ok, sorry for the late start.  Had to set up the new internet connection and it took me a minute.  Many new and old VIP's are here, and Mayor Cohen has started off the meeting with a brief statement from each Alderman of which ward they represent and where that is.  If you are new to this politics stuff, here's the location low down:

Ward 1: Downtown
Ward 2: West Annapolis and Germantown
Ward 3: Parole
Ward 4: Outer Forest Dr.
Ward 5: Hunt Meadow and Central Forest Dr
Ward 6: Robinwood, Tyler Heights, other random streets
Ward 7: Inner Forest Dr and Bay Ridge Dr/Ave
Ward 8: Eastport


The most disturbing thing I've noticed so far is how tall Kenny Kirby and Ian Pfeiffer are.  Being the only Republican, Alderman Paone in my opinion needed to rely on his menacing stature, voice, and trial lawyer experience to get his bills through.  But if Kenny Kirby puts on like 7 lbs of muscle, he will clearly be the most menacing member of the council.  I plan to immediately contact Alderman Paone for an emergency strategy session after this meeting.


A bit of procedural consideration:  Attention Eastport residents: I like you.  My last post was not meant to offend you.  Please appreciate the attempt at humor and please know that I agree with like 97% of the stuff you fight for.  Oh, and I know there are people from all wards involved in your causes.  No hard feelings? Great.


Josh says he aims for 'efficiency' and to be 'the best run city in Annapolis'.  Also, the third Thursday of every month from 1:15-4:15 will now feature a legislative work session aimed at increasing transparency and understanding of the issues.  This of course also means that every third Thursday of the month from 11:15-1:15 I will be hosting a political tailgate in Hillman Garage.

Too many changes!  Now, all Monday meetings will be BOTH a public hearing and legislative meeting.  This is really not a change at all, as the distinction between the 2 types of meetings was much like the current distinction between commercial banks and Savings & Loans after the banking crisis of 1981: nothing.

New public testimony policy: when the buzzer goes off, stop talking.


The public is speaking...time to test this new policy.

The first speaker is Julie Stankivic and she outed a controversy that I haven't gotten to yet!  Ross Arnett, an economics professional and chief understander of the budget, was left off of both the finance committee and the economic matters committee.  The committees don't have chair-people yet, and word on the proverbial street was that this snub might be the result of a failure to properly promise his vote for a certain chairperson*.

*Rumor alert.

I will post the committee list for you tomorrow (or some other day).


Herb McMillan: "Reverse the trend; cut the budget".

Resident of Miami Ave: "The time to cut the budget is now".

Steve Samaras: "Brilliant selection of Doug Smith."


I went to high school with Steve's son, Drew, and he produced one of the most memorable moments of my high school life.  In government and law class, Drew asked the teacher how fast over the speed limit do you have to be going to get pulled over.  Our teacher, Mr. Kirby, reclined to an incredible angle of nearly 180 degrees horizontal in his chair and said "Drew, it's the limit".


Public hearing time.  Like half of the room just left.  I imagine they were supporting this, not with testimony, by simply by their presence.

O-03-09: limiting the height of building accessories in the MX district to 100 feet.  "Accessories" appear to be  clock towers, indoor theaters, and other things associated with the Park Place development.


Although my view from the back is obstructed, Alderman Arnett appears to be sporting a winter beard.  I once tried to grow a winter beard, only to experience failure after 4 weeks of not shaving produced only the appearance of neglected hygiene.


A reader of this blog has cleverly utilized the comment technology, as I have received his real time complaint that I didn't list the committees.  So, friend, per your request:

Economic Matters:
Alderman Israel
Alderman Paone
Alderwoman Finlayson

Alderman Israel
Alderwoman Hoyle
Alderman Pfeiffer


(Still talking about the height of Park Place).

Park Place representatives: "We want you to help us out".  What they actually said I don't know, as a late afternoon coffee manifested into an early evening bathroom break while they were talking.  But I'm assuming they said that.


While listening to the PPP (Park Place People), Josh leaned back in his chair to a modest reclining angle that I estimate to be 100 degrees--barely leaning back.  I will call Mr. Kirby (not Kenny Kirby) to see if he gives lessons.

Also, I would like to say that I use the moniker "Josh" not as a sign of disrespect, but in recognition of a commonality we have.  We both have economics degrees from the University of Maryland.  Sharing the experience of learning about 'Neo-Keynesian policies' and 'production possibility frontiers' while continuously being told to "Fear The Turtle" produces a "bond of lifelong boredom" that affords its bearers the right to call each other by any name or nickname they see fit.

But if he asks, I'll call him Mayor Cohen.


I've spotted a woman crocheting while listening to the proceedings of this meeting!  Wow.  If ever there was proof that meetings are boring, such proof exists in the fact that crochet is the reprieve from the monotony.


People disrespect the General's Highway Corridor.  Here are the 5 best things to do on that stretch of beautiful Anne Arundel County, listed in reverse order for added drama:

5.  Go bowling!  As my favorite comedian says: Some people have their own bowling ball AND their own bowling shoes friends.  My ball is called the Activator*, my shoes are black Drexel lace-ups*, and....does anyone want to hang out tonight?

(*this is actually true.)

4.  Buy a Christmas tree from Matthew Weller's stand.

3.  Go to Lures.  Locals owners that welcome you to their dream.

2.  Bet on when the billiard supply store will go out of business, only to reopen as another billiard supply store.

1.  Get on I-97 without driving on Aris T Allen Boulevard.


If they don't stop talking about Park Place soon, I'll be forced to write more jokes, and political humor can get old real quick.


Serious business now...public hearing on O-47-09: to prohibit the use of a taxicab's horn to announce its arrival.  Those damned noisy taxicabs!  I know what you are wondering: and the answer is: former Alderman Stankivic sponsored this bill.

Robert Eades (owner of a taxicab company): "This is totally stupid".

Alderman Paone is asking a series of questions that alerts me to the fact that he thinks it's stupid too.


All of the Aldermen are seated at acute (less than 90 degrees) reclining angles--they are actually leaning forward! That's just silly.  A couple years of practice, and maybe they can learn to recline like a Mayor.


Alderman Arnett just pointed out that it's Maryland law that you can't honk your horn for any purpose other than an emergency.  What a spoilsport.  Oh wait.  His point is that this law is already redundant of state law.  So he thinks this bill is stupid too.  Good point Ross*.

(*also on the economics-degree first name basis).


Devin Heritage: Let's not create unenforceable laws.


A red-haired person just walked in!  Exciting!  The audience now includes:

-a red haired person
-a woman still crocheting
-someone with so little regard for free time that he is live blogging a city council meeting
-various city workers that more or less have to be here
-a taxi company owner
-several other people who have yet to distinguish themselves

We now move to a public hearing on O-59-09, which would update our stormwater regulations to conform with state law.


Voting time!  There is nothing on final reader because the new mayor and council want to learn more about the bills before making a final vote.  All of the following were passed on first reader and referred to committee.  The bills sponsors and co sponsors are listed in parentheses.

O-66-09: Clarifying Mobile Food Service Permits (Hoyle)
O-67-09: Rezoning of a Part of Duke of Gloucester St (#214) (Israel)
O-68-09: Changes in the Way Legislation Is Passed (Israel)
O-69-09: Establishing a Financial Advisory Committee (Israel)
O-70-09: Order of Voting (Rotating Sequence with Mayor Voting Last) (Cohen, Paone)
R-73-09: Establishing a Citizens Committee to Review Alcohol Laws (Israel)

Budget amendments passed over Paone's objection.

Adjournment: 9:37.


Anonymous said...

No fair. At least tell us who is on finance and economic matters!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for satisfying the curiosity in your devoted following in cyberland. Now let's see who is will end up being chair of finance. I bet we can all guess!

Anonymous said...

Note to self: attend next meeting with laptop in order to receive real time hilarious commentary while watching.

Brian, you may get a following of laptop or iphone carriers in the audience.

Brian Gill said...

I am aware of an alarming trend of people reading my commentary while watching the meeting on local access TV. "Multiple Sensory Aggravation" is the term experts are using to describe this masochistic behavior.

Feel free to bring your Iphone! I'll be the one with the laptop reclining in the back of the room.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching it on DVR, is that worse? and reading your comments. if Arnett isn't on finance, what is he on?

Anonymous said...

I mix a special concoction of the TV show "Parks and Recreation" on HULU combined with hits on the refresh button for your commentary.

If I had a TV machine, I'd watch the council meeting. All I got is the intertubes here.

Maybe I'll become even more of a junkie, and I'll actually attend a council meeting one of these days. I vote that all Brian Gills/local politics groupies wear bowling shirts. It'll be our way of identifying each other.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful idea on the bowling shirt. And Brian, I assume we can text you from inside the room as well go up the interactive quoitent of your mission.

All kidding aside. This is a wonderful service you provide. As funny as it is, it also get to the nub of the issues facing the city. Kudos. And even if we didn't major in economics, may we call you "Brian?"

Anonymous said...

Did City Hall turn back on the wireless internet that the old Mayor had disconnected? Or did you have to steal a stray signal? Or did you cash in one of those blogging checks for a wireless card?

Brian Gill said...

Thanks for the kind words. You can call me whatever you want! It's only when you get elected to office where the name craziness comes into play!

The internet situation at city hall is a joke. They don't have wireless internet because they claim it's a security issue. I suppose somebody involved in a lawsuit with the city could hack into the system and learn the city's legal strategy. Just's a terrible excuse.

A friend of mine has a wireless internet jack that plugs into a USB port so I just borrow that for the council meetings. I used to "borrow" an internet signal from nearly wireless routers but they are all password protected now. stinks.