Be Informed for Monday Agenda Session
The agenda-fixing session is where the council discusses various items and decides whether or not to put items from the various governmental departments up for a vote the following Monday. A few very important discussion items can be seen on the agenda, such as formation of a Muhlenberg sub-committee/ad hoc committee. The committee would consist of Council members Burney, Linda Carter and William Reid and their charge would be what is reflected in a proposed resolution (click here to read).
Another proposed resolution, "demanding specific assurances of Commissioner of Health and Human Services Heather Howard in relation to the closure Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center," does not seem to be among those scanned by Burney and so must be picked up at City Hall on Monday to get the full text.
Burney is also the sponsor of proposed legislation to establish a Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee. A proposed resolution calls for each council member to appoint two residents to the committee. The committee would deal with the FY 2009 budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.
All of these matters are important, but there are other big items that need explanation before the Aug. 18 business meeting. The most glaring one has to do with the issuance of $22,500,000 in bonds. It is unclear whether the resolution is setting limits on total bond issuance or whether that amount of bonds is up for issuance.
There are a couple of matters held over from July, one being a resolution on carrying over a tax abatement from Netherwood Village Apartments LLC to the new owner, Netherwood Village LLC, a Connolly Properties affiliate. Another is an ordinance creating special zoning for a portion of South Avenue. The ordinance has been criticized as making de facto decisions that should be left to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Sadly, there are not as many council-watchers as in the past. The gadfly seems to be an endangered species. The alternative to attending council meetings to speak out is to locate your elected representatives on the city web site and shoot off an e-mail to show your concerns about the issues at hand.
Every citizen has three council members who must pay attention. First is the Citywide Councilman at-large and current Council President, Harold Gibson. Next is your own ward representative, either William Reid in the First Ward, Cory Storch in the Second Ward, Don Davis in the Third Ward or Elliott Simmons in the Fourth Ward. Then there is the First and Fourth Ward representative, Linda Carter and the Second and Third representative, Rashid Burney.
In the past few years, information on city actions has increased tremendously with the innovations of online postings and multiple blogs. Plaintalker will endeavor to continue providing context and insight to the flow of raw information to the citizens. As always, real people are encouraged to show up and decide for themselves whether officials are doing their best to make the most of taxpayer dollars.
Monday's meeting is 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.