Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Council meeting 12/9

Interesting meeting. I thought it ran fairly smoothly... which reminds me that I'm going to try to tape yesterday's PZC meeting when in airs on Wednesday.

One item that could generate discussion in a few months began on tonight's consent calendar. There's a matching grant application in there for removal of invasive species at Boulder Knoll. There's merit to project in several ways. But it's also spending that may be better off avoided for a year.

Next item to generate discussion was the Covanta contract. There's lots of moving pieces there, a history of which can be found here (scroll down). A lot people spoke, but I tried to avoid repeating others and offer my two cents about hoping to move Cheshire toward being a more sustainable community... though with the recycling industry getting hammered, it certainly becomes more difficult. The Covanta contract moved forward unanimously.

We moved onto the additional request for $150,000 for the Lilac Pump Station. There was not going to be a vote on the funding tonight, thankfully. I'm still torn on this. Obviously, the project needs to be completed. But there was a referendum question for this in 2006 for $750,000... not $900,000. And the Mixville Pump Station just got rejected at referendum this year. So there are reasons for and against. But what really sticks in my mind...

1) financial software
2) Norton boiler
3) Lilac pump station

And please tell me exactly what consequences there have been? I know that I don't want to be the recipient of the consequences next fall when my boss decides to fire me.

The Norton School Window Replacement bid waiver had lots of talk... but it was a nearly unanimous vote to reject the idea (1-8, Hall supported). What surprised me the most was when Chairman Hall said he wouldn't ask the PBC Chairman to call a special meeting to expedite the project. That made absolutely no sense to me. I don't see why it would be a big deal to ask a Board or Commission to have a meeting to expedite a project. And seriously... after the $1.9 million CHS heating retrofit project ballooned into the $3 million CHS air conditioning project... who in their right mind will argue that the PBC is concerned with costs? Ha! They're like the BOE... "you decide the budget and we'll spend it!" Sure, there are fiscally responsible individuals involved... and fiscally responsible ideas. But on whole, the only body that will ever demonstrate concern about taxes is the Council. And no... that comment doesn't necessarily apply to the current Town "take-home vehicles for everyone!" Council.

As I had mentioned a few days ago, the Town Manager discussed funding opportunities that may be available through the Obama pork project printing press fund Public Works initiative. I've spoken with the WPCA Chairman and assured him that if there's reason to believe funding will become available, I'd support funding the design phase of projects. I also learned that the building assessment RFP includes an energy / water / utilities audit component. Yee-ha! A somewhat comprehensive approach! That was great news. Plus... now I can cancel my "Utilities Audit" meeting that I was planning.

I mentioned a tentative energy forum for January. It should cover conservation (oil, NG & electricity) and energy assistance programs. I was hoping to get Congressman Chris Murphy to discuss federal energy assistance, but his staff are expecting he'll be in Washington for the entire month.

The Human Services Committee is working to increase food / fuel supplies for those in need.

The Retirement Advisory Board meets on Wed Dec 10 @ 6:30pm. I'm uncertain of the agenda, but I expect there will be a discussion on their general risk tolerance in this market. Personally, I'm averse to holding dollar-heavy assets. I'm convinced that between our irresponsible fiscal policy and negligient monetary policy... the dollar is going to devalue and / or experience very serious inflation, if not hyperinflation, in the next year or two. So I think we ought to be hedging against that by investing in non-dollar-heavy assets. I'm seeing that as different investments, such as gold or the extremely diversified GE, among other vehicles.

Anyway, I'm going to bed.

Tim White

18 comments:

Bill said...

Why are Public Works employees picking up the left over white luminary bags on South Main Street, Tuesday & Wednesday. Why is tax dollars being spent on trash removal? The costs should be charged back to the function organizers. People that put the bags there should be held responsible for picking them up......oh, maybe a new thought, did the Town buy the bags for South Main?

Anonymous said...

Guess I was wrong about Mr. Hall being a gentleman.

Not once last night did he apologize or express regret for his publicly saying “G*d d*mn” in his capacity as Mayor.

I thought after he had time to reflect on it, he’d recognize that an apology was the most honorable and easiest way to put it to rest. But I was wrong.

As a Democrat with kids, it embarrasses me that Matt Hall is no more honorable than the rest of the vulgar popular culture which surrounds us.

Anonymous said...

Matt Hall did allude to his previously saying G--D--- when he said Heck and spelled it out, H.E.C.K. Thats sort of an apology.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hall’s spelling out H.E.C.K. was clever, but it lacked the sincerity and forthrightness of an apology.

My high school son watches the council meetings and has volunteered for Democratic candidates. He’s been left a little dismayed by this whole thing.

Matt’s public cursing and non-apology have led to some good discussions in our house about public versus private language, taking responsibility for your mistakes, and having realistic expectations of the candidates you supported.

Still, we have the right to expect more honorable conduct from the chief elected official, the Mayor of the town.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hall’s spelling out H.E.C.K. was clever, but it lacked the sincerity and forthrightness of an apology.

My high school son watches the council meetings and has volunteered for Democratic candidates. He’s been left a little dismayed by this whole thing.

Matt’s public cursing and non-apology have led to some good discussions in our house about public versus private language, taking responsibility for your mistakes, and having realistic expectations of the candidates you supported.

Still, we have the right to expect more honorable conduct from the chief elected official, the Mayor of the town.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Matt Hall did allude to his previously saying G--D--- when he said Heck and spelled it out, H.E.C.K. Thats sort of an apology.

December 10, 2008 10:10 AM

Are you kidding me?? There's no "sort of" apology. Either you apologize or you don't - and he DIDN'T. Shame on him.

sz

Anonymous said...

And I also noticed that the luminaries didn't get removed in a timely manner. I would have thought the businesses along route 10 could have easily gone out and picked them up. By the high school, perhaps the kids could have picked up the ones directly on the grass out front and a custodian could have picked up the ones on the edge of the street. It wouldn't have taken long to do.

Leaving them out to get smashed was a bit disrespectful if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

When the guy got up and talked about the CHS locker rooms needing more repair he mentioned that some anonymous donor did do some clean up work. But I guess he was suggesting to the council to put some more money towards work needing to be done. My guess is that the anonymous donor is the same anonymous donor who gave the 10K for the turf study. The council should suggest (to whoever is holding this 10K - probably the boe) that any locker room repairs should come from that large donation. I haven't heard the turf committee saying they've used any of the 10K for their fake study so it must be just sitting there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Re: Bill Said:
Perhaps you should ask the organizers and see. Do you know if they paid or offered to pay?
Before allegations are made, check your sources.
Were you out there on Sunday watching the volunteers pick them up?They were there.
The town also picks up leaves, and other debris on the streets.
I love people like you who would rather pick apart a wonderful event that brings the town together. Perhaps you should see why this was done and what it has done for the people of this town. 70% of the town participlated.
Do you also question why they clean up after the parade?
It is people like yourself that we need to hope for....

Anonymous said...

And I also noticed that the luminaries didn't get removed in a timely manner.
As one of the many volunteers in this town who assisted in this event, I will tell you these organizer did an incredible job. Unfortunately, the weather hampered the clean up. Yes, we wish more businesses and resdients took a more active role in this, but for whatever reason they didn't.
I believe that within 3 days of an event, with snow,rain and freezing temperatures mixed in, it is all cleaned up.
I can't believe this is what you people have to complain about.
I didn't hear 1 positive of how beautiful this town lookeed. Also, the businesses, especially restaurants were busy with people from out of town coming to see this event. The publicity it brings to this town is nothing but positive and shows people why it is so good to live here.
So please stop the complaining about it taking 3 days to clean up.
That was the number 1 item on the agenda and it was done.

Anonymous said...

"Leaving them out to get smashed was a bit disrespectful if you ask me."

Why didn't you pick them up if you thought it was so disrespectful?

Anonymous said...

After reading this blog the guy that complained about the bags gave his opinion. Now here is mine, instead of spending time and effort to buy, set up and clean up all the bags, change it. Buy a few hundred, set them up and light them on the lawn of the high school. Have a general gathering. All the money that is spent on buying the bags can be donated to the charity instead of the bags.

Anonymous said...

Huh??
Buy a few hundred bags and then all the money spen on buying the bags can be donated?
Lets see, we can donate about $200 that means.
How do you give a $2,500 scholarship then?

Anonymous said...

Instead of spending money on bags, only buy one. Take what the total amount of money that would have been spent on bags and donate it to the charity. So, if you would have bought 10 bags for $10, only get one bag for $1 and give the other $9 to the charity. Dave the parts of the other 9 bags; like the trees, candles, sand etc.

Anonymous said...

All well and good, but people want to see something for their donation.Plus, it is way more impressive when 70% of the town is lit. Makes a bigger statement.
Charity work is extremely difficult, especially when it is an ALL VOLUNTEER charity.
Perhaps you should volunteer your time and bring these suggestions to the group.

Anonymous said...

Great job by all the people who placed the candles on the main roads. It had to be hard with cars going by at 35-40 mph and the wind blowing. So what that some were picked up a few days later. It looked beautiful, it's a worthy cause,and I'm sure all that saw it in some personal way walked away inspired. My street never looked so good with all the lights. Can't wait until next year.

Anonymous said...

Just listened to this meeting last night on COX. Wow, the folks involved in pumping station upgrades need some basic education on how to estimate a project, how to figure contingencies and how design engineering is to be practiced.

Accurate as-built drawings are a mandatory requirement of all projects. Digging test pits, using ground penetrating radar, making test borings and other means of verifying what's really there are required prior to estimating a T&M job, not after. How can licensed design engineers actually design a safe, effective project without the basic engineering inputs to the design in hand?

The town engineering department and the town building inspection function need to be absolutely certain that ALL town projects come with adequate and accurate AS-BUILT drawings, filed away and retrievable so that in the future, whenever that might be, others can actually repair, modify, and maintain town facilities.

Of course, this is Cheshire where the most important issues revolve around discarded luminaries while pump station upgrades are going over budget hundreds of thousands dollars because no one stepped up to the plate to say, gosh, we don't have the information required to do this job in the first place.

Our town public building commission, the town building inspector, the town engineering department and the water pollution control board need to be held more accountable for lapses in construction projects which result in large cost overruns especially when the overruns can be traced back to poorly done design engineering work in the first place.

Anonymous said...

the last comment about the PBC having accountability is needed. I have been to the PBC meetings and they are a waste of time. Due to the way that the town charter is written, the PBC is actually a waste of time and they have not authority. All need to be approved by Town Council - PBC just makes reccommendations.....I have seen other towns and how they operate the PBC and they have accountability. Furthermore, they do not have some many members on the crew........we have a lot of members on the PBC and not all of them care. Either the rules change for the PBC or it will remain as is. Make the PBC have control and accountaiblity....