TEXTING WHILE DELEGATING: In what turned out to become a heated debate among the city council on Monday night, Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch asked why the late communication regarding the police patrolmen and superior officers’ contract had to be sent to the Ways & Means committee on Wednesday instead of being approved that evening. It all started at the beginning of the council meeting when suspension of the rules was allowed but the communication was sent to committee allowing Finance Director George Anzuoni and Mayor Dan Rizzo to leave the chambers without any council inquiries. Now fast-forward to the end of the meeting, Councillor Patch asks to suspend the rules once again and requests an explanation as to why the contract – which the police have gone without for the last three years – couldn’t be voted on earlier. Council President Ira Novoselsky handed that question to the Ways & Means Chairman Brian Arrigo who stated that since it was a late motion, councillor, as well as the taxpayers deserved to know the details of the two contracts despite having a somewhat abbreviated communication from the mayor in hand that evening. But Councillor Richard Penta, in support of Patch, stated that the “numbers are still the numbers” and that they won’t change by Wednesday’s meeting. Penta said a vote could be taken immediately. That was enough to ignite a back-and-forth debate between Arrigo and Patch which caused their microphones to be cut off by President Novoselsky. When the meeting ended, I asked Councillor Patch why he didn’t ask the finance director and the mayor for more details and vote to send the communication to subcommittee. In a true sign of the times, it was because he was texting. Well, at least he wasn’t driving.
AN AGREEMENT BY ANY OTHER NAME: As much as I love a good debate, it was hard to listen to the city council debate the pros and cons of political signs this past Monday night. The issues of free speech and democracy seemed a bit redundant considering, as one councillor aptly stated; it was great to see the voter turn-out we haven’t seen in a long time. My take on what should constitute a “gentlemen’s and ladies’ agreement” with respect to political signs: no spray paint! Other than that: let it all hang out and vote-vote-vote!
NIMBY: Thanks to the TED district established by the city council, the medical marijuana facility being proposed on Railroad Street will be far and away from neighborhoods, schools, and playgrounds. At the end of Wednesday night’s zoning subcommittee meeting, one councillor made it known exactly how the majority of the board felt about the business’ planned location: “Great location – keep it out of my ward!,” said Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch.
RESILIENCY OF BILLY BELL: Making an appearance at the city council zoning subcommittee meeting on Wednesday was former city councillor Billy Bell who had been sick since the beginning of the last election, bowing out quietly from the ward 5 council race. Not hearing from Billy from quite some time, I received a phone call one morning from him stating that he had been gravely ill but was ready to give everything he has to beat the disease” – and judging from the tone of his voice, I believed him. He also wanted me to thank everyone for their cards and words of support. Although I didn’t have much of a chance to talk to him on Wednesday evening, I was glad to see Billy back in his old haunt at city hall. I have no doubt he will be back. – JDM