It's been a while since I attended a Council Meeting. I went last night to hear the presentation by Temple University about their food assessment of Norristown. Mood-wise, the meeting was for the most part positive and not depressing, as Council meetings had tended to be last year.
The Temple presentation had a lot of information and recommendations which I'll cover next week in a separate blog. Today I'll just cover the other items on the agenda.
"Agenda" was the first issue. During the public comment period, a resident asked why the agenda for last night's meeting hadn't been published on the website. Furthermore, she said, the Town Hall meeting with Chief Talbot on Monday night hadn't been publicized in any way. Another resident attested that no one in her neighborhood had heard about the Town Hall. Chief Talbot claimed that he'd had 5 town hall meetings so far. Even Representative Christian said she'd only heard about 2 of them--the one at the American Legion Lodge (which was publicized well in advance and had a good attendance of about 75 people) and Monday's meeting. These are the only 2 that I knew about as well. If there were 3 other meetings, they were completely off the radar.
I received an email from the borough secretary late Monday telling me about the Town Hall and asking me to spread the word. I didn't see the email until Tuesday morning. But the email said the reason word hadn't gotten out was that "Our information employee is on vacation."
Another interesting item was that Council passed a resolution removing
competitive testing for the positions of Police Captain and Lieutenant,
leaving the promotions to these positions at the sole discretion of the
Police Chief. I'm of 2 minds about this. As Chief Talbot stated, the
usual procedure in most police forces is to promote positions above
lieutenant without testing (I know this because of my research for my
mystery novels). It makes sense, because if a cop is capable enough to
be a lieutenant, he ought to be able to handle captain with no trouble,
and there's usually only one lieutenant in the department to promote to
captain. Still, I wonder about giving that much power to the Chief
without some kind of objective assessment for the position of
lieutenant. I'd be interested to know how wide the field of potential
candidates is for that.
Councilman Millner asked about the latest
crime statistics which apparently showed crime had decreased in
Norristown. His question had to do with the way data was collected. We,
the public, were not given the statistics, nor told where we could go to
find them. They might have been presented at the town meeting Monday,
but only 10 residents attended that (because the rest of us didn't have
adequate notice). I'd suggest a presentation of crime statistics at
least once a quarter at a Council Meeting that's filmed, so the public
has regular ongoing access to the information.
An easement was
requested for 1202 Dekalb St. (the 24 townhouses on 2/3 acre project).
Something to do with sidewalks on Green St. and a relaxation of
requirements for the disabled. Again, not well-defined for us
eavesdroppers in the audience. A resident asked during public comment
that this be explained and another public comment period be allowed
after the explanation and before voting. She was totally ignored.
I said, this wasn't as depressing a meeting as last years' were, and
business moved along fairly quickly. For a few items, though, it felt a
little too quick--I wish Mr. Caldwell or someone would have provided a
bit more detail, acknowledging that those of us who took time to attend
the meeting might not be aware of all the inside info known to council
members for each issue.