Thursday, September 03, 2009

September 3, 2009 More from City Council's Meeting on 9/1/09

Other happenings at City Council on 9/1/09 and what the Trib is likely to report and what the Trib is likely to leave out.

The Trib may report today or tomorrow on the lengthy city council discussion on the Farmer's Market at the corner of S. Henry and W. Morris Boulevard. Mayor Barile did not want to discuss this on Tuesday, but councilman Gene Brooks managed to get the discussion going anyway.

Lots of ideas were thrown out---build a canopy over the area so it doesn't look, as one individual put it, like a "tent city"; sell it (proposals were sought from interested buyers about two years ago, but that's as far as it went); enforce the regulations for the market and perhaps clarify the current regulations regarding who can set up a booth and what can be sold; try to collect sales taxes (This was said to be virtually impossible since the city and state essentially rely on the honesty of the vendor to report sales and forward sales tax to the appropriate entity. It was also pointed out that farmers who are truly selling produce that they grew on their own farm are exempt from sales tax. One person said that he was pretty certain that pineapples being sold at the farmer's market were NOT grown by a local farmer).

What the Trib's Bobby Moore probably won't report is that Charles Cook asked the Mayor and Council to move their meetings to a later time--perhaps 6:00 pm--so more working members of the public could attend if they wanted to.

Cook made an excellent point---city government meetings should be held after normal work hours so the working person can attend.

I have publicly asked a number of times that County Commission move its 11:30 AM committee meetings to 5:00 PM or later for the same reasons as stated by Mr. Cook.

Government meetings should be held at times that are most convenient for the public. Having 11:30 am meetings (county commission committees) and 4:00 pm meetings (city council) shows disregard for the taxpaying public and interested citizens.

There are numerous other "public" meetings of government committees and groups that take place at 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and other times when the public for all practical purposes is excluded. LAMPTO (Lakeway Area Metropolitan Planning Transportation Organization), Morristown Regional Planning Commission, Morristown Utility Systems, and the Solid Waste Board are a few examples.

Another item that the Trib's Bobby Moore probably won't report is that after Mr. Cook suggested having later meeting times, I asked that the Mayor and City Council tape their meetings and air them on the MUS FiberNet government/education Channel 7. Over 18 Million dollars has been spent on the FiberNet/cable/phone system operated by the City.

County Commission meetings are shown or are supposed to be shown on MUS Ch. 7 (govt/ed channel) on Tuesday and Saturday nights at 9:00 pm. [I get Charter cable, so I'm not certain if MUS is still showing county commission meetings at the same time as Charter does. I do know that MUS is supposed to air county commission meetings.]

With the millions invested in MUS FiberNet, why in the world won't the City tape and air its own meetings on MUS Ch. 7? In addition to airing the tapes, the City could allow easy internet access to the tapes of these meetings at the city's website.

If the City really cares about giving more than lip service to open government, its meetings should be held late in the evening, meetings should be taped and aired on cable Channel 7, AND the meetings should be accessible at any time on the city's website at

I believe Mayor Barile will place the matter of meeting times on the agenda for discussion at a future work session. She was very hesitant, however, to give the same consideration to taping and airing council meetings.

UPDATE: Well, the Trib's Bobby Moore finally got around to reporting the Farmer's Market discussion (see above) in yesterday's Trib---and that was only three days after the discussion/news took place! Bobby's front-page article was under the headline Farmers Market debate resurfaces. And if you read to the end of Bobby's "Farmers Market" article, you would find a short paragraph about Mr. Cook's request that council hold meetings later in the day (see above) and my request that council televise their meetings (see above). Impressive reporting.

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