Quite a few people showed up at City Hall this afternoon for the mayor's hearing on the amendments to the mass gathering provisions, but most seemed to have come hoping to witness some afternoon drama rather than to express an opinion that might influence the mayor one way or the other. The Register-Star seemed to be expecting theatrics as well. Reporter John Mason was there, along with photographer David Lee and multimedia guy David McDonald, but they were disappointed, along with everyone else.
The purpose of a public hearing is to receive public comment, but a few people who should know better rose to ask questions or seek clarification about the proposed amendments. Former alderman Quintin Cross wanted to know why this sentence appeared in the amendments: "Exceptions to this application process may be made for good cause shown upon petition to the Mayor." (The answer, offered by Common Council president Don Moore: That language is in the current law, and it was retained so as not to curtail the powers of the mayor and necessitate a referendum.) Supervisor Ellen Thurston (Third Ward) wanted clarification about the amount of insurance required. (The clarification, again offered by Moore: The insurance requirement is $1 million. It does not change unless there is alcohol involved, in which case it increases to $3 million.) Supervisor Sarah Sterling (First Ward) wanted to know if there would be a website or "clearing house" for events being proposed. (Moore's response: "It is our intention.")
The only genuine comment has made by Bob Rasner, who operates a B and B on Union Street and an antiques shop on Warren Street. He expressed the opinion that increasing the time in advance of the events for submitting a mass gathering application from 60 days to 120 days was actually "healthy for the applicant." He pointed out that large events need to be planned much further in advance than 120 days, and the 120-day requirement gives everyone more time to consider the application and gives the applicant time to regroup should the application be denied. (The mayor responded to this comment by telling Rasner that "the law was not written to the benefit of the planners but for public comment.")
The public hearing was over in thirteen minutes, but afterward the mayor invited Mason to step out into the corridor, presumably to give him a statement. If you are curious to know what the mayor said, check the Register-Star in a few hours.
COPYRIGHT 2014 CAROLE OSTERINK
Addendum: John Mason's report on the hearing has been published, and the mayor appears to have had nothing new to say, except that the legislative branch can pass a law with fewer than the 120 days of public scrutiny they are requiring for a mass gathering permit: "City's new mass gathering permit law on mayor's desk."