Council Watch 7/16/07

Last night was the meeting rescheduled from the rained-out 9th. Alderman Wogen was absent. Those present were sharp and on the job. Alderman Gorski is working to ensure that the annexed Orr Farm/Park 88 lot that faces Route 38 will have traffic access to 38 only if it retains a retail/commercial zoning, but will have to make due with only Peace Road access if it becomes industrial. Alderman Naylor asked about a Special Service Area designation for the annexation involving the Target store expansion. Alderman Keller was the only “nay” vote on an omnibus resolution to fund local public agencies, definitely swimming against the $$ flow.

What was most interesting to me, however, was the council-clerk-staff dynamic that one might well call “circling the wagons,” apparently in response to pressure on city clerk Donna Johnson from several individuals in regards to late, poorly summarized (and perhaps politicized) meeting minutes; pressure in the form of phone calls, e-mails, a meeting with the mayor and a letter to the editor. Alderman Gorski found an opportunity last night to thank Johnson for her rapid online posting of new and amended ordinances. Frances Loubere’s complaints about the minutes and council’s lack of response to unresolved campaign problems were met with frozen silence. Ward reports consisted of compliments from aldermen to city clerk and staff–I swear I expected them to blow kisses to each other.

Near the end of the meeting Johnson spoke, mostly to make clear that she will not be writing any rebuttal letters to the editor nor taking any other step to correct or apologize for her failures to the public she is supposed to serve. Instead, she invited anyone with questions about her job to arrange to visit her there. Yup, we are supposed to follow her into her comfort zone to be charmed or bullied into silence, or to take time out of our days to witness firsthand why it is she can’t/won’t meet deadlines, write proper summaries or guide her department into the 21st Century.