Sunday, November 02, 2008

Random Thoughts on City Issues

By chance, Plaintalker turned on Channel 74 Saturday and saw a program on the Mayor's Summer Youth Program. There were many aspects to this presentation that deserve comment, but rather than give my immediate thoughts, I would prefer to hear from readers. The program will be broadcast Sundays at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., Mondays at 9:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m., Friday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 p.m., if I read the schedule correctly.

The program features Finance Director Douglas Peck instructing a group of teens on how to do PowerPoint presentations. The young people had studied certain city divisions and were going to report on their assessments. The group then discussed the findings and the program concluded with a formal presentation to the mayor.

Check it out.

Among her responses, the mayor mentioned the possibility of a youth center. This notion has come up in several public gatherings, with the idea of purchasing the Armory or another building for such a purpose. Two thoughts come to mind. First, how can the city afford to buy a building for a youth center when it came out in budget talks that the South Avenue firehouse needs to be replaced at a projected cost of $7 million? And secondly, is this proposal reflected anywhere in the capital budget or is it just a campaign promise for 2009?

As you will see, the young people noticed a distinct lack of technological expertise in several areas of city operations, as well as issues with the web site. At a recent meeting, a council member suggested that the city should take a cue from the school district's web site. However, the district web site has changed shape lately. Frequent viewers see things come and go as if the site is still in test mode. For example, the link to PPS News was missing yesterday and a new item, "The Insider," disappeared after one issue. Given the controversy over whether Parents Empowering Parents is an "outside" organization, the title seemed a bit off the mark.

Looking at Channel 74 in a rare sitdown before the TV Saturday also made this writer wonder what's up with the city's Cable Television Advisory Board. Click here for two previous posts on talks with Comcast officials. Verizon has a statewide franchise and is building out its FiOS service in the city. When the service level reaches 60 percent, franchise fees are supposed to double to 4 percent. But how will the city know when that benchmark kicks in? The board is supposed to monitor operations of the local channel, which still has limited local coverage.

City officials floated the idea of hiring a director of technology at a projected salary of around $147,000 at one budget session. The Police Division has also revised its table of organization to include two new bureaus, one for technology. Someone suggested that talented individuals in-house could handle city technology needs. Will the FY 2009 final budget resolve the issue or will there be more tinkering with one of the city's biggest problems?

The City Council is on election hiatus and the school district is closed next week, so none of these local questions will get answered for a while. Meanwhile, everyone who is registered to vote should have received a sample ballot. Check your polling place, read the two public questions, review voting machine instructions and above all, don't forget to vote on Tuesday!

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your writers are very polite when it comes to commenting on the Green/Briggs team. The assumption is that Green/Briggs are well meaning and that the city comes first; in short there are no alterior motives. Not until people gutterly feel that the management of this city is not in their best interests will they find the courage to vote Green/Briggs and like minded council supporters out of office. Of course, the assumption is that people will step forward who will put the city and its residents first - not the pay-for- play crowd captained by Green/Lesniak. To the point, pay-for play is about studies, make-work/jobs - which there is no tangible benefit to the city or its residents, e.g., director of technology or 2 new police bureaus.

9:43 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home