Saturday, November 17, 2007

Speak Out on Council Schedule

The City Council will soon be preparing its 2008 calendar. If you favor a return to the traditional Mondays-only schedule, now is the time to speak up.

For many decades, the City Council held its regular meetings on the first and third Mondays of each month, with some modifications for federal holidays, elections and summer months. In 2006, the council changed to a schedule where the agenda sessions were on Mondays and the regular meetings were held on Wednesdays. This gave the council members a busy week followed by a week off. But it made an extremely bust week for City Clerk Laddie Wyatt and her staff, giving only a short turnaround to convert the agenda session decisions into the format for thr regular meetings.

This year, the council started off with the same schedule simply because members could not agree on which of three alternatives they wanted. The matter came up a few times and then was simply dropped in favor of the Monday-Wednesday schedule that most members said they didn’t like

Residents complained that the Wednesday regular meetings forced a choice between Bible study and council meetings. Many city churches traditionally hold Bible study on Wednesdays. Sure enough, council attendance dropped and public participation waned.

Some people believed the new arrangement was created to suit the needs of Jennifer Wenson Maier, who became the city’s director of Public Works & Urban Development in 2007. She was also council president in Rahway and needed to be there on second Mondays.

Yet another issue was the clash of the new schedule with Board of Adjustment meetings, held on first Wednesdays, and with the Planning Board on some Thursdays in weeks with federal holidays. The shift for federal holidays also produced a few conflicts with Tuesday Board of Education meetings.

Whatever you think, now is the time to speak out. The council will meet Monday and Dec. 3 for agenda sessions, with regular meetings Wednesday and Dec. 5. A final agenda session will be held Dec. 17 for the annual reorganization in January, at which the 2008 calendar may be adopted. The Monday meetings are 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. and the regular meetings are 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia


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