Friday, April 9, 2010

BOA Meeting Report - 4/7/10

This regular meeting, moved by a few days due to the Easter & Passover holidays, saw many new items communicated to the Board which will most likely head to Committees as assigned by the BOA President, Carl Goldfield.  There was also action on several items including a few added late thus included as Unanimous Consent items or addressed by "suspending the BOA rules."  These are "normal" procedures, however, they warrant additional scrutiny as these items have not gone through the "regular process."  The main issue of concern is the BOA is being asked to take action without much time to analyze, gather info, ask questions, etc.  Often, matters are indeed straight forward and/or due to time constraints need to be addressed under these "exceptions" to the usual rules and procedures. Almost every meeting there are items presented this way.  However, members can legitimately have concerns with having to act (vote) on an item when questions haven't, or even can't be, answered.  These issues were addressed by several Aldermen at this week's meeting.

Business began, unanimously passing a resolution to support proposed US House legislation for a Jobs for America Act.  Aldermen Rodriguez, Blango & Paca submitted this resolution to support H.R. 4812 - which you can learn more about here.  Mostly symbolic, this support could help with the passage of Federal legislation that could send money to New Haven.  Next, several new items were communicated and will most likely be distributed to Committees by President Goldfield.

First Readings were noted for several items which will be voted on at the next meeting.  This includes the Aldermanic Affairs favorable recommendation of a list of people to be appointed to establish a Charter Revision Committee, CSEP's (I'm vice-chair) favorable recommendation of Ordinance Amendments to go along with the Finance's Committee's favorable recommendation of Fees for new policies related to DPW's flow-control for waste and recycling hauled by private contractors within the City limits, as well as DPW to begin offering fee-based pick-up services for recyclables to commercial and large residential (+6 units) entities.  Also the renewal agreement with the management company for Alling Memorial Golf Course will be before the Board at the next meeting.

Then, the Board voted on a few items coming up as "Second Readings" and thus having moved through the "normal process."  However, despite favorable recommendations from Committee, several Aldermen were concerned that their questions could not be answered by their colleagues nor was there representatives for these items available. However, despite legitimate concerns, colleagues after much discussion, did vote unanimously to approve Tax Abatements  for four senior City residents, and for the continued abatement (with presumed State reimbursement) of taxes for the Tower One housing property (18 Tower Lane down town).  Also with favorable recommendation from the Public Safety Committee, and no additional questions nor concerns from members, the Board unanimously approved the application and acceptance of Federal FEMA grant money for a new Fire Boat and another Federal grant (SAFER) for money to fund nine firefighter/paramedic vacant (through attrition) positions.

Next, came the controversial last minute item(s) from the Board of Education.  While the item itself was not necessarily that controversial, that it was added at the last minute and forced people to make a decision with little time to analyze frustrated several members.  Also, frustrating was no one from the BOE was available to answer questions.  Ultimately, after much discussion, the Board did act on this item - a contract - that had three parts.  One's decision had to be made primarily based on the letter from Superintendent Mayo stating that this contract approval has " funding being requested..." and that "...the funding for these contracts will come from the existing approved school construction capital accounts..."  Alderwoman Jackson-Brooks, whose ward the Roberto Clemente & Hill Central schools are in, also asked for support.  However, she was also critical of the Administration for not being available nor for allowing the BOA more time to study this contract which requires BOA approval to go forward.  The contract(s) (3 separate ones) are for the purchase, installation and maintenance of an energy saving fuel cell to be installed at these schools.
The full board then did unanimously (except for one nay on the maintenance contract piece - Goldson) approve the contract(s).

The meeting ended soon thereafter, however, several of us (including me) asked for more discussion between meetings, amongst members, amongst the administration, and with staff.