Mondays-Only Council Meetings Resume
The traditional schedule was reinstituted over the objections of some council members who preferred the late Council President Ray Blanco's 2006 innovation of meetings on Monday and Wednesday of the same week, with a week or more off until the next paired sessions. Residents had objected that they would be forced to choose between Wednesday Bible study, a staple of most city churches, and the regular council meetings. Attendance dropped off after the change, and City Clerk Laddie Wyatt also said it was a strain on her office to get out all the paperwork for two meetings in one week.
Because council meetings are not yet televised, physical attendance is the only way for citizens to see for themselves what their elected members of the governing body are up to. Councilman Rashid Burney has been posting the agendas on his web site, so residents can at least preview them.
Tonight's agenda includes a discussion of a possible citywide garage sale sometime in June. The Friends of Sleepy Hollow neighborhood group is holding its 15th annual garage sale on May 18, and its success was the trigger for a previous council discussion of waiving fees for both the FOSH permits and anyone else who wanted to hold a sale the same day. But all FOSH had requested was a more expeditious way for the city to handle the 80 or so permits its sale engenders.
Other concerns raised about a citywide sale were how it would be publicized. For $25, FOSH facilitates city permits, takes out advertising and provides maps and balloons to mark participating homes. Cleanup after the sale was another issue, if it was broadened to the whole city.
Also on tonight's agenda is an ordinance that would require background checks for employees or volunteers who deal with children. Officials posed it as a liability issue when it was up for first reading at the April 9 meeting. It will be up for second reading and final passage at the April 21 regular meeting, 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. The ordinance would in effect do away with a city director's discretion in hiring parolees at playgrounds, for example. Residents may speak tonight and next Monday on the proposed ordinance.
There are 25 council meetings scheduled for the remainder of 2008. It would be good if residents can find time for at least one, to observe how things go. The council does take notice of new faces and especially of groups that come out to council meetings.