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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our borough mayor runnin with scissors...


If you’re a parent, and even if you’re not, you know what happens when a room full of un-chaperoned squealing kids goes all quiet.  That’s when someone finds the scissors, and before you know it, “home barbershop” has taken on a whole new meaning and it’s the day before the family photo. The borough mayor has been busy during this little break between assembly meetings it seems, and the citizen’s of the borough might just end up with a whopper of a haircut.

Vote gerrymandering…
Told you about the community council game changer ordinance headed to the assembly table Dec 6th  and how it would give individual community councils the ability to decide who they allow to vote.  The mayor has now introduced a substitute ordinance to make it clearer what he has in mind. The new spin on the legislation adds language making it obvious what the mayor is trying to achieve, and that it would “allow Community Councils to decide whether they want to” expand the definition to allow landowners as well as residents to be members of community councils. They will need to have some time to amend their bylaws and possibly their articles of incorporation to provide for membership by property owners. So there’s part of the rub.  Besides the huge issue of allowing mega land owners and corporations to take one more step into our everyday lives by now becoming a voting person in local community council issues, the cost of making those changes is the financial burden of the community council.  Isn’t that just the icing on the cake?  Pretty sure it wasn’t long ago that more than a few councils found out that if they were not incorporated that they couldn’t receive any revenue sharing according to state regulation.  This was a pretty big chunk of change to a volunteer community organization that cannot charge dues of more than $10.00 per member yearly to meet the cost of its operations. Have you bought a cartridge of printer ink lately?  That will cost you about 6 or 7 yearly members’ dues.  Again the mayor would like to shift the cost of changing regulation to fit his criteria to another pocket, yours.   Of all the cans kicked down the road this one begs for a big punt. 

A head pat and a slap….
And apparently the mayor has found the time to read the local paper.  The “Frontiersman” published an interesting editorial that called out the mayor and five of the six assembly members for not taking the life line assembly member Keogh threw them banning cell phones and texting at the assembly table.  The Frontiersman called the mayor and the 5 assembly members “out of touch with the wishes of those who they serve” “Snap!” That will leave a mark.  The newspaper called it just right supported  by a back up poll on their site that asked “Should elected officials be permitted to send email, texts or take phone calls during public meetings?” As of today, 87% of those voting said a big whopping NO!  So the mayor has straightened his crown and whipped out another resolution.  Resolution 11-158 is a dandy. After a series of whereas’s and supersedes the mayor is now adding that “during assembly meetings the Mayor and members of the Assembly will not communicate electronically with each other, so that all deliberations happen openly and publicly”. That’s the head pat part.  No specific language about cell phones, texting or otherwise but it might satisfy a few of those Frontiersman readers and poll voters.  No mention of people, lobbyists, special interests or long arms from China/Taiwan texting or cell phoning the Mayor or Assembly members during the meeting or during their breaks.  Doncha think instead of a pat on the head  people of the borough are being “patted down” more than anything with this legislation?

The “slap” comes later in the resolution that says “the mayor from time to time may request, before the assembly meeting, that the clerk provide for pro and con sign-up sheets on an issue for members of the public to sign-up to speak to an item”.  Remember that pesky coal meeting where the mayor sailed this trial balloon in the name of keeping order and then later in the meeting cut short the testimony when he ran out of “pro-coal” testifiers? Yeah that one. That was a wet kite that wouldn’t sail even in a Palmer wind and it doesn’t sail any better now.  Requiring that the public prior to their testimony inform the assembly and the mayor just what their position is on an item they want to speak to is really beyond the pale.  There is just no sugar coating this. So really is the common thread in both these resolutions the mayor and whoever is pulling his strings trying to change the way the people of the valley VOTE and speak in the borough about their concerns and issues? We are flirting with some pretty basic rights of democracy here folks.  

Add to that pile of steaming hair on the carpet an unexplained cancellation yesterday of the quarterly Joint Assembly School Board meeting that was set for December 13th. The meeting was to feature well known and respected state economist Neil Fried speaking to the joint bodies after the current census and demographics on the economy  to be followed by a question and answer period.  Important stuff it would seem for elected officials to consider. Curiously the assembly meeting at 4pm the same day on changing procurement procedures wasn't cancelled. So it seems like ceremonial mayor Devilbiss has been pretty busy running with scissors this week.  We might get a glimpse of the haircut he delivers to the valley  at the assembly meeting Dec 6th

Seriously, how do some people sleep at night….




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