Monday, January 14, 2008

City Council, Staff Talk Without Articles.

Well, I took lesson from Life Of Jason and I watched City Council meeting on TV this evening. It was rewarding experience, TV was never so interesting. I guess out here in city it is easy to just sit back in chair and read news in newspaper and not have true flavor of how city and staff conduct city business.

First thing I noticed is that no one uses any articles. What are we trying to do here, economize on speaking? Save time? Dang, how much time does it take to say an article? There are only two of them: a and the. How hard is it to use them? All night long, Council members said stuff like, "Have staff look into that", or "Have staff prepare a memo", or "Did staff approve this?" And staff would reply: "Staff recommends approval" or "Staff will prepare a report and get back to you"or "Staff is prepared to present to Council..." Articles, for God's sake, USE ARTICLES, please. (Just to show you what I mean, I am going to remove all articles from this blog post.)

I really empathized with people who live in vicinity of 3720 West Chestnut Expressway. Developer wants to lease land to bakery company as distribution center for Springfield. Neighbors who live behind place are concerned about truck noise, increased traffic noise plus noise of unloading and loading trucks all night. It is bakery so most of traffic would be at night. That fresh bread we get at store each morning, it's baked at night, trucks are loaded at night, well you get drift. I didn't think Council was too sympathetic to these citizens. Council members didn't think noise would be too loud. That's because they don't live behind place!

(You want to hear noise? Live where I live. I can sit on my back porch and follow play by play at JFK Stadium. Now that loud speaker is LOUD! So I sympathize with people who live on West Dover, even if Council doesn't.)

Bass Pro Shop wants approval for land use or something having to do with Wonders Of Wildlife. Wasn't there big whoop-te-do several years ago over proposed bridge between Bass Pro and WOW? I seem to remember some State Representative raising cain over public money intermingled with private enterprise. What happened? Did people forget about that battle? Did it, does it make any difference?

Remind me again, don't people who shop in Bass Pro Shop area pay extra sales tax to support the WOW? Even though re-zoning or whatever was not conforming to land use permit or something, staff recommended approval. Council woman Rushefsky asked why this was "recommend approval" when it wasn't according to usage and Council may vote against other high profile case where land use or something "not recommend approval". Cynthia, if your name is John, you can do just about anything you want in this city. You oughta know that by now. Deep pockets trumps everything. (Pythian Castle's mistake: they acted as their own attorney and had fool for client.)

Then came donation of land to city from school district. Well, actually it didn't come right away, first it was to be emergency ordinance then it was switched to first reading.

I wish city had said, in the very beginning, in regards to skate park, something like 'We want to consolidate all park holdings into direct park supervision. You all have done fine job, we want to buy you out...', stuff like that instead of spin job they are doing. Like, don't piss on my leg and tell me it is raining.

Reynolds, skate park attorney was on to something with unrestricted deed. If deed was restricted to park use only, there is no way mediator could ever give land to skatepark association if mediation was heading in that direction. City attorney was being super cagey when he said staff recommended restriction to deed so 50 years from now city couldn't sell land for profit, it would always have to be park. That is correct but I wonder staff was covering all bases? Remember, Council votes in two weeks on donation and mediation will last longer than that. We don't know what mediator will decide.

Just suppose mediator says give land to skatepark, city can say deed restriction won't let us do that, when school district gave us land, it was restricted and can only be used for park, skatepark association is not park, so they can't be deeded land. "That's some catch, that Catch-22". That may not be what is happening, but it could be what is happening.

Well, that's all I got to say. Experience of watching City Council on TV, lots of face on TV for Council. Council and staff appear to be experts at CYA.

Denny and Ralph looked lost. Couple of times TV showed Ralph waving, winking and nodding his head. It was almost entertaining. It took Denny long, long time to get up and go to bathroom, if indeed that is where he went.

I guess I missed fireworks. Mary Collette seems to be Council member who remembers who she is working for. Let Life Of Jason take it from here (He uses articles):

Tamara Finocchiaro scheduled to address City Council. The Mayor interrupted and said this is something they have had a public hearing. He said he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for one side to have their say and not the other side. He asked the law department if they had an opinion as to what is appropriate.

The legal department said under city code during the petitions, remonstrances and communications residents can say whatever they want to say. If the council wants that changed they would have to change.

The City Clerk said that it wasn’t a public meeting but that she just commented to council so it was not a formal public hearing. Councilwoman Collette was shaking her head yes in agreement.

The Mayor said that he frequently sees people coming to talk to council about things that are not connected to what council is doing and that a council committee needs to look at these rules. “We’re getting more and more of these.” “Frequently we have more and more things that have nothing to do with city government.”

Councilwoman Collette said “if more local citizens are addressing Council about their concerns it’s what we should want” and that she thinks it’s important that we have a forum where citizens can express what is on their mind. Sometimes they don’t know if it’s something we can do something about. The Mayor said that it’s a valid point.

The Mayor said some council members said there should be rules and others think anything goes.
(Go back and re-read Catch-22 and Major Major Major's rules for speaking to him)

And what about Ralph? Again, from Life of Jason (speaking about Capital Improvements Program):
Councilman Manley said that the people in these departments are experts in their fields and that the Council needs to rely on these people. He said that they’ve had this to review for a week or so and that it’s ready to pass because the experts said it’s important. He said he wants to vote on it tonight and passing this tonight. He said that this is what the people want and that it should be passed. The Mayor agreed with Councilman Manley but that he doesn’t want anyone to feel they aren’t serious about the concerns that someone would raise. He doesn’t mind giving two weeks to Councilman Burlison to raise the issues.
I didn't catch whole meeting, but between what I watched on TV and what I read on Jason's blog, I got flavor of meeting. Read his blog for his take. Next post I'll be using articles again. There was certain economy of style without them, though.


Jason said...

"Reynolds, skate park attorney was on to something with unrestricted deed. If deed was restricted to park use only, there is no way mediator could ever give land to skatepark association."

That's an extremely keen observation, Jim.

Jackie Melton said...

You should watch City Council meeting more often. ;)