City council's May 7 session was punctuated by a shouting match
Posted in the Clinton Forum
#1 May 13, 2012
By BOB MOREHEAD
The Post staff writer
City council's May 7 Committee of the Whole work session was punctuated by a shouting match.
After the agenda items were out of the way, council clerk Karla Richards read a letter, signed by all the members to the administration, objecting to the installation of a concrete pad between the administration building and the fire station. The pad is intended for the city's annual Safety Town for soon-to-be kindergarteners.
"There has been shown no justification for such a project to be undertaken for the Safety Town event that is held once a year for five days and other options would be more fiscally responsible," Council wrote. "Furthermore, the idea of being able to use the concrete pad for parking to enable caterers to access the community center easier is also not a viable justification."
Council said the city has already identified the need for a new roof and other improvements for the community center and the $20,000 to $40,000 for the concrete pad, paid out of designated parks money from the Time-Warner Cable franchise fees, could be better spent on those.
"Neither council Property Committee members nor the Park and Cemetery Board were consulted or made aware of the concrete pad installation until after administration decided to move forward," the letter said. "A proper, respectful and courteous process was not followed in the project decision and upon learning of the project the entire Park and Cemetery Board were against the plan."
Two representatives of the Parks and Cemetery Board spoke at an earlier meeting to voice their displeasure at having been ignored in this project.
The shouting began as Councilman Todd Bergstrom complained that the administration does not communicate sufficiently with council.
"You need to change your policies and procedures," Bergstrom said.
City administrator Rick Ryland, as he's done several times before, reminded Bergstrom that there is a separation of powers and that council's job is legislative, not executive, and that he preferred not to be "micromanaged" by council.
Bergstrom insisted it would only take a few minutes for the administration to copy council on everything they do.
"Put in a public records request and I might," Ryland said.
"You know I might just flood you with them," Bergstrom retorted.
They began shouting over each other and were gaveled down by council President Don Nicolard. As things calmed, Ryland explained that any council member who wants to know what's going on can simply go into the administration offices and find out.
"I should not have to come in hear and ask 'What's cookin'?'" Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey said.
Mayor Mike Zita had seen the letter earlier in the day but had opted to proceed with the project anyway. Perturbed himself, explained that the pad was a park project, the franchise fees are earmarked exclusively for park projects, it was under the threshold to trigger the Board of Control and he was well within his rights to authorize it.
Bergstrom said working like this undermines the city government's perception in the community.
Earlier in the night, council opted to consider legislation to refinance the city's bonds. Finance director John Moss said cities are permitted to refinance periodically and Norton's 2003 bonds are in that window. Lower interest rates today will save the city money.
Council will also consider legislation to update the city's fire code to conform with the state fire marshal's code.
The meeting wrapped up on a very solemn note.
"When you take a public position, you expect things that are normally private to become public," Councilman Scott Pelot said. "That is, except your medical information. But I think I owe it to my constituents to keep them informed. I have been diagnosed with lung cancer and will be missing some meetings but I will continue."
#2 May 19, 2012
So what was wrong with having 5 days of safety town held at one of the many schools?
Did the administration exhaust all available locations, or just use this as an excuse to ram through a special project?
#3 May 23, 2012
So they didn't even consult the very commission they gave the power to distribute these funds?
Why even have a Park & Cemetery board if you don't let them do what you appointed them to do?
Shame on this administration!
#4 May 30, 2012
$30,000.00 for a slab of concrete for 5 days of use?
There is no other concrete / asphalt in the city that could be used? Really?
And they say this with a straight face? Really?
#5 Jul 5, 2012
You have to love the hidden tax that Norton has created:
You give Time Warner Cable exclusive rights to sell to Norton (monopoly). In return, Time Warner gives the city cash.
Is this legal? Is this ethical?
I would hope that our monthly cable fees would be lower if only there was some competition!
#6 Jul 26, 2012
Just remember the city's spending habits come election day, because they're asking for more $$$!!!
#7 Oct 5, 2012
This registered voter is ready to cut their power!
#8 Oct 27, 2012
I say no to all future tax increases until they can live within their means, just like my family must do every day!
#9 Nov 1, 2012
Just because you are the loudest does not mean that you represent the silent majority.
#10 Nov 25, 2012
The majority voted to limit this administration's spending authority.
Silent or otherwise, the majority has voted that this administration's spending habits should be reigned in.
I represent myself, and hopefully my neighbors can think (and vote) for themselves.
#11 Sep 3, 2013
God bless our city administrator. He’s not in touch with reality, is he?
#12 Sep 21, 2013
I want to know why he constantly calls WNIR to defend himself?
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