Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More about Last Night's Common Council Meeting

It was undoubtedly Council president Don Moore's intention that the passage of the resolution calling for strategies to reduce gun violence be the most reported and remembered action of the Common Council last night, but sadly it was eclipsed--at least for this observer--by the Council's stunning rejection of an amendment to ban toxic waste from fracking from entering the city. In introducing the gun violence resolution, Moore spoke of the "people who are standing up and making an attempt to reduce violence" and of "indelible memories of my own children at the ages of 5 and 6 and 7."

While Moore clearly felt it was important for the Council to make a statement in response to unspeakable tragedy, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) expressed the opinion that the resolution was "rushing to say something for the sake of saying something." Friedman's objection was that "this resolution doesn't go far enough." Reminding his colleagues that "words are important," Friedman urged the Council to table the resolution and give it further consideration." "I think we are better than this," Friedman said.

Moore pointed out that the State of New York already outlaws assault weapons--a comment that inspired a discussion of the nature of the weapons Adam Lanza reportedly had in his possession and used, the size of the clips, the distinction between automatic and semiautomatic weapons. At one point, Alderman Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward), addressing the question to Friedman, asked about semiautomatic weapons, "Have you ever fired one? I have," and went on to express, somewhat inappropriately in the context, this bit of gun safety wisdom, "Never point a gun at someone unless you intend to kill 'em."

The discussion notwithstanding, the resolution passed unanimously, with Friedman making it clear that he was voting aye "with the understanding that this doesn't go nearly far enough" and Alderman Wanda Pertilla (Second Ward) thanking Moore for taking the initiative to draft the resolution.

Other moments of interest from last night's Common Council meeting:

  • When the aldermen were asked, as they are every month, to vote on paying the bills, Pierro asked about a bill from Plass, Rockefeller & Nucci, wanting to know what had been surveyed. City attorney Cheryl Roberts informed him that it was the "port parcel."
  • When voting on the resolution to buy a new firetruck for $501,162, Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) hesitated, said "I don't know," paused, and finally voted "with reservation" aye.
  • Friedman was the only alderman to vote no on the resolution authorizing the issuance of serial bonds to pay for the new firetruck. When asked by Alderman "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) why he had introduced the resolution and then voted against it, Friedman explained that he thought "piecemeal bonding was not the way to go" in handling the City's capital expenditures.
  • At the end of the meeting, city treasurer Eileen Halloran brought up her concerns about the impact that construction activity at 900 Columbia Street would have on the homes and the residents on Green Street and wanted to know why nothing has been done about it. She noted that the project had been issued a building permit and made the point that "someone must make sure the people on Green Street don't have more water running onto their property." She offered some information, reported by Nathan Mayberg in the Register-Star, that has not previously been a part of the conversation about 900 Columbia Street: there is a 2.6-acre nationally designated wetland downslope from the project. "This new fact," said Halloran, "needs to be explored."

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