Since last we spoke the situation regarding sidewalk obstruction regulation has gone nuclear. Please read my July 10 post for an overview of the situation.
Before I continue, I want to give a shout out to an avid reader of this blog: Dale McPherson, a member of Southport's Planning Board. I had no idea that Dale was such a fan until the most recent Planning Board meeting. Dale mentioned a comment I made in a post in April about my duties as a liaison to the Planning Board as directed by the Mayor. He felt that the comment made the Planning Board look bad and I should be (somehow) officially required to temper my blog comments. Wow, I didn't think my opinions had that much impact.
Why was this brought up at the meeting of a busy and important city board, instead of talking directly with me about the "problem" ? You can ask Dale, or perhaps another city official who likely asked Dale to bring it up at the board's public meeting. Next time, guys, send me an e-mail or leave a comment right here on the blog. Don't waste valuable time at a Planning Board meeting in an attempt to embarrass me.
Let's get back to the sidewalk obstruction situation. My blog post of 7/10/10 takes us up to this point. On Sunday, July 11 the Mayor sent us an e-mail asking us to consider a public statement regarding the letter to the merchants and our desire to remedy the situation. The e-mail stated, "Now is not the time for us, as a Board to send mixed signals... Please consider the possibility of making a brief and direct joint statement to the news media and other information dissemination sources."
The Mayor then provided an example of the statement he'd like to see and asked for our feedback.
4 of the 6 board members (myself included) felt that the statement was flawed. My concerns were that it promised things the board may not be able to deliver, and it blamed the public outcry from the letter on the city manager. We also had not decided on a process by which to deal with the situation, so maybe we should wait until that was done. After submitting our comments we heard nothing...
...until the morning of Monday, July 12 when the letter appeared on the website of the State Port Pilot newspaper. It was signed by the Mayor and 2 other aldermen. It clearly indicated that the other 4 (including me) were not concerned with this problem and had refused to sign the letter. What? Weren't we in the process of discussing the statement we would issue? I never even got to hear the feedback from the 2 aldermen who did sign the letter. Was this a calculated action by the Mayor to focus public anger at the 4 of us who disagreed with him and the city manager? You can read the full account in the July 14 State Port Pilot and decide for yourself http://www.stateportpilot.com/articles/2010/07/16/front_page_news/doc4c3db8968dbc6006308425.txt
Bottom line: there will be a public meeting on Wednesday to begin discussion of the issue and receive public comments:
SPECIAL BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 6:30 PM at City Hall
Hope to see you then - Ken