The April 19th regular BOA meeting opened with Alderman Jerry Antunes (12-D) giving the annual Black & Hispanic Caucus State of the City Address. He opened asking for a moment of silence for the families and victims of the recent gun violence in New Haven. His address mentioned that violent crime must be eliminated, gun noise should not be the norm, TV news should not only focus on crimes being a fact of life. He also suggested that the Q House "void" should be filled, gun buyback programs are only "token" effort, kids should trade their game boxes for little league and visits to the Peabody Museum, and that parents should be more involved and this responsibility is not solely the City's. The address also asked for more youth jobs to stimulate the mind and have a career path. He concluded with a few policy ideas including having a progressive housing policy, getting more people to work, keeping more money in the City vs. sending it up to the State, that home owners are "tapped out" property tax wise, and there should be policies to make life better and life's burdens lighter.
Regular business commenced after Antune's half an hour address with a roll-call vote putting forth a BOA resolution to add its voice to the US Conference of Mayors call to President Obama at the United Nations conference in May 2010 to initiate good faith multilateral negotiations on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020. All Alders present except DePino (18-R) and O'Sullivan-Best (11-I) voted for this resolution.
Next, several items given favorable recommendation by the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee (I'm Vice-Chair) passed unanimously including: Ordinance Amendments from DPW regarding commercial waste collection, disposal, site cleanliness and dumpster regulations; authorization to the City Engineer to continue to engage their consultant for support services for the replacement of the State Street Bridge; approval of a sign for Bespoke Restaurant; and the approval of a Sister City agreement with between New Haven and Tetlanohcan, Tlaxcala, Mexico.
Next, three items given favorable recommendation by the Finance Committee were unanimously approved including: filing the City's monthly financial report for 1/10, the authorization for the current management company of Alling Memorial Golf Club to continue management, and the fee components to the new DPW commercial waste and recycling ordinance amendments.
The fees and ordinance amendments regarding commercial trash and recycling are new policies that will ensure more compliance with the City's flow-control ordinance and State mandated commercial (and residential w/ more then 6 units) recycling laws. This will also enhance City revenues thus reducing tax burden, protect condo and apartment residents and commercial entities from being overcharged by private waste haulers, and give these entities access to City recycling services.
Then it came time to approve the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) after much work and a favorable recommendation from the joint Community Development/Human Services committee. This plan was 211 pages and allocated millions of dollars of grant money to many applicants. There was however one contentious grant decision. That was the committee's decision to decrease a grant that funded a Park's employee, union position to oversee the Open Spaces and Community Gardens. While several committee members and other Alders thought it fair to decrease this position's salary/benefits since many grants were similarly reduced. However, because it was reduced to below the bargained range of the position, the position would effectively be eliminated. After more debate on the issue including testimony in favor of the long time city employee and the job itself, the sufficient money was reallocated as the amendment to do so passed with only four votes against.
Seemingly last, after that lengthy debate, was a vote to, on behalf of the Tax Abatement Committee, place a 30-day moratorium on residential tax foreclosure actions to force compliance from the City's Tax collector to follow an BOA order from last year to notify Aldermen of pending actions. It also is to provide some more assessment of the Assessor's Office policies with regard to aggressive assessments. This passed after this moratorium on "all" tax foreclosure actions was amended to just "residential."
Then, as the meeting seemed like it would come to a close, Alderman Goldson (30-D) moved the Resolution from the Mayor to establish a Charter Revision Committee. This item on the agenda had been "passed over" by the Majority Leader's prerogative. BOA leadership and the Administration wanted more time to try to get support for the Aldermanic Affairs committee's favorable recommendation to name and establish a Charter Revision Committee that could perhaps get a couple items on the Nov. 2010 ballot including 4-year terms for the Mayor and BOA. After much discussion and debate, the item failed as many Alders did not care for the process that led to this particular list of committee members nor their directive(s). The BOA will again take up forming a Charter Revision Committee after "budget season" and before the end of the State mandated every-10-year period which ends in 2011.