Saturday, February 07, 2009

Council at Washington School Monday

Monday’s City Council agenda-fixing session will be 7:30 p.m. at Washington Community School in the first of several relocations to schools across the city.

Council President Rashid Burney proposed the innovation to “bring the government closer to you.”

Now for my gripes. Every time this calendar thing comes up, there is some glitch that makes it confusing. The press release announcing the change also includes two other dates, but they are not agenda-fixing sessions, even though they are indicated as such on a calendar posted on the city web site. Why not? Because that calendar, adopted Jan. 1 and published in the official newspaper, will change in April due to an ordinance passed on first reading Feb. 2. After a public hearing and final passage, a listing of the revised dates must be published.

Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson has begun to call me jokingly the “keeper of the calendar” because I have been pointing out problems with the proposed innovations. For example, the dates announced by Burney at the Jan. 26 meeting included a federal holiday and one conference meeting that clashed with an agenda session.

Between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, the language of the ordinance was also changed. I don’t even want to go into the “from” and “to,” lest there be more confusion. The first point of clarity must be publication of the actual new dates. Burney also proposed four meetings at schools, one in each of the city’s four wards. These dates and locations must be clarified. Then the dates and locations of the conference meetings must be clarified, and maybe the format should be explained as well.

Critics, including myself, think all these changes will serve not to engage the public, but merely to confuse citizens who are used to agenda-fixing sessions being at City Hall Library and regular meetings being at Municipal Court. Certainly if the changes themselves keep changing to correct glitches, the public may not be able to keep up.

City officials have promised to publicize the changes on Channel 74, on the city web site, in the media and by postings in public locations. Count on Plaintalker to continue pointing out anomalies so they can be corrected for the residents’ sake. Monday’s time, date and place are correct, so let’s start there. And don’t forget, Washington Community School is on Darrow Avenue, but the parking lot and entrance to the cafetorium are on Spooner Avenue. Maybe I’ll see you there.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bernice,

While I agree that moving around the meetings is rather confusing, specially if the movers are confused themselves!, I think this is a great opportunity for those residents that haven't stepped into a Plainfield school in years, or maybe even never, to take a look into PPS.

Washington School has beautiful inside grounds. It's by far one of the local public schools that is clearly well taken for. It has a permanent art display that envies none other, and if you read the dedication, Ray Blanco's name is mentioned, which is one more legacy that Ray left behind. Maybe the council should request a tour before the meeting. Gee! I know you are loving this idea!!:-)

The question I have is how will residents of the area will know what is coming to their neighborhood school? Fewer and fewer people read legal notices, why not make street banners that will announce these meetings? So far I haven't hear anything from the Neighborhood Associations, and what is more, if these meetings are advertised on channel 74, there are many, like me, who don't have cable, so how is this going to work if the reach out is not equal to the effort mounted to have "traveling meetings"?

Hopefully the council will be proactive in making sure that communication gets out.

Maria Pellum

12:37 PM  

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