City Council rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic

(November 14, 2006) This is the first city council meeting with the new mayor and council. Paul Schreiber and Brian Robb were newly sworn in as mayor and councilman from Ward 3. Unfortunately due to a production error, we missed the first 30 minutes of the meeting and the gavel hand-off. Lee Tooson was in rare form tonight as he welcomed the council and mayor.

Watch Video of Ypsilanti City Council, November 13, 2006

We join the meeting in progress as council is deliberating changes to audience participation. The good news is council added another three minutes at the end of the meeting for audience participation. The bad news is they moved the first audience participation until after all presentations and public hearings. So for the most part, audience participation won't start until 8:30 or 9:00p.

Brian Robb brought up the issue of public notice in newspapers. Despite the fact that publishing notices in the Ann Arbor News is some three to four times more expensive than the Courier, the council voted to continue to use the Ann Arbor News as the paper of record.

At the end of the meeting, the new mayor brought up the seating arrangement asking Ward members to sit together. This was rejected by the council. The mayor then suggested they change the seating order and proposed that he sit on the end so that he doesn't have to swivel his head back and forth to see the council members. All this discussion about the seating chart left some in the audience to wonder if this was like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


At November 19, 2006 10:49 PM, Rod said...

I've got to say that would be damned funny if it wasn't a portent of things to come. The last 5 minutes is, unfortunately, what I expected once Paul took office.

I am surprised that Paul wanted, immediately, to be able to close a public hearing without a resolution. The closing resolution is a safeguard for free speech. I am the first to groan when council meetings go on for upwards of four hours, but a resolution to close a public hearing never took more than a minute. Stack them end-to-end on a 6-public-hearing-night, the resolutions to close the meetings took … you guessed it… 6 minutes. And I do recall, at least once, when the resolution to close a public hearing was moved, someone said “not so fast…”.

A resolution banning the belaboring of a detail of dubious significance would go a long way further to getting everyone home early… however that too is a restriction of free speech, and so it should not be passed either.

Pushing audience participation back behind the rest of the presentations in council is also a step in the wrong direction in my opinion.

I find it amusing and amazing that none of those who were present when Basar made his presentation about Budget Towing (back when I was covering city hall) could remember that Budget Towing had complained about displaying a list of lawful charges under city contract because people confused those rates with his private contract rates. Chief Basar found that argument compelling enough to allow budget to cease from displaying that schedule. I found it absolutely amazing that no-one hauled Basar over the coals for that.

At the end of the day, someone has to care enough to keep city contractors honest. Someone has to care enough to keep city employees doing their jobs correctly, and someone has to care enough to cry foul when these jobs are not done.

Most of all, however, someone has to care enough to see that things are made right. That last someone is the Mayor. For the sake of this city, I hope that he is a far better man than I have had cause to give him credit for to date.


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