The State of Newark in 2016
Elections matter, they matter every single year. Last year's was certainly no exception. The people of Newark chose the path they prefer as we head into this new year, and the Mayor offered his vision for us, kind of. Honestly, there was more boasting about the accomplishments he sees in 2015 than there was any emphasis on what he wants to do this year. If you watched, read, or listened to his speech in 2015, you would easily notice how short this one was. Anyways, I do want to make a few observations about the "State of the City" address as well as the council meeting itself.
1) The Dispatchers
Mayor Hall made a reference - about two or three sentences long - to the "successful" transition to our city's new "partnership" with our three relatively unaccountable county commissioners. He sort of suggested - likely unintentionally - that our city dispatchers weren't cut out for the job and that the county will do a much better job. Considering that this issue was not given a more thorough review by the people of Newark, in addition to the troubling fact that we are now stuck with the county's service for no less than 2 years, I'm still very much bitter about this transfer of power away from the people. Even so, because I believe in the greater good for all I hope that this deal works for us and provides the high quality service that we were promised. Lives depend on such.
2) The Firefighters
His comments predictably shifted to cheering the perceived improvements to the provision of our firefighting services. Think what you will of his policies in this regard, but the one key line in his speech which irked me was the reference to citizens as "customers". I'm sorry, but protection from untimely death is a right of all humans. Only in terms of privileges in the private sector should we ever regard one another as "customers".
3) Community-Oriented Citizens
There was a brief recognition by the Mayor for the importance of input by those who want to improve our communities and enhance the collective sense thereof. It is my desire to see this receive a lot more attention in the years to come, because it is only through a united community-driven philosophy that we will build a better, brighter Newark.
4) Expedited and Emergency Legislation
The majority of the eight pieces of legislation dealt with tonight were passed on to the Mayor for signature just eight days after they were voted out of committee. I have a major problem with this approach to making laws. It provides very little room for transparency, and without transparency you have no accountability. Therefore, our democracy is inept. The people deserve to have a chance to review the laws and other actions being taken in their name.
If council insists on circumventing the "two day reading rule" (which is supposed to give the people three weeks to look at legislation and provide appropriate feedback), then why not change the rules of council to eliminate such? Otherwise, I suggest doing the people of Newark a favor by discontinuing this irresponsible conduct and making sure that you are proposing legislation well in advance enough so that the "deadline" excuse is rendered obsolete. Is this too much to ask?