As I mentioned last week, I was not able to attend the latest Council meeting, but I have read the (sort of lengthy) minutes thereof. I do have a couple thoughts about the meeting: first of all, I'm always very weary of zoning changes. While I found myself leaning in favor of the proposal before council wound up voting to pass it (9-1, with Councilwoman Hall dissenting), I have seen a number of these zoning debates play out since I started attending more than two years ago. One member of council stated accurately after the previous zoning debate that this is often one of the most difficult decisions that council has to consider. In my humble opinion, when there is a serious lack of support amongst members of the affected community (and by that, I mean anything less than an overwhelming majority), perhaps the final vote on rezoning should be left to citizens in the immediate area. Just a thought.
Also, I noticed Ordinance 16-46, which deals with changing our municipal taxes. It was held for a second reading, but I didn't see this measure considered on any of the AVAILABLE committee meeting minutes. I haven't had a chance to watch the video recorded on that date to review what was said (if anything) about this in the Ways and Means Committee, but I would appreciate it if Council could do a better job of ensuring that the public was fully informed. All you need to do - at the very least - is make sure that all of the committees have their agendas and minutes made available for our immediate review.
Now, on to what I see with the upcoming committee meetings. I'm very happy - as an environmentalist - to see plans in the works to install solar panels at our water treatment plant (Resolution 16-99, Service Committee). Perhaps this is a sign of changes to come? It would save the city a lot of money in the long run. Hope more of this is on the horizon.
On the flipside, I've also noticed Resolution 16-100, being considered by the Finance Committee. It deals with applying for the "Brownfield Grant". On a personal level, I'm typically supportive of such initiatives, but the only problem I have with this is that the Administration recently reached out to the Freedom School of Licking County (of which I am currently the Chairman) looking for our endorsement of this effort, and they have made it clear that they need us to provide our stamp of approval no later than this coming Friday. What's problematic is that we have received very little information about what we're being asked to support, the request came during the Thanksgiving holiday week, and our time for asking further questions is very limited.
This has been my problem with how the Hall Administration and even Council as a whole has operated in the past few years. Almost every decision is made in a small window of time, giving those who may otherwise feel inclined to dissent with almost no wiggle room to find an intellectual argument for or against following the Mayor's lead. This is either a chronic problem of poor planning or an intentional scheme to stifle opposition. For the sake of transparency, this needs to change.
A final note, like the past couple weeks it is possible that I may not be able to attend tonight's meeting. Both of my kids fell ill during the holiday and if I can't secure a babysitter I will not be dragging them out of the house for this. Don't worry Council, I'll be back soon enough. ;)