(60th in a series of posts on parking)
So once again we are heading to a climax on the parking rate issue. Unbelievable that we are now at post #60 on this journey.
City Council will probably decide something on the Bethlehem Parking Authority proposal to raise parking violation fines (the Mayor has already authorized the meter rate increase) at the Wednesday Nov. 7 meeting (pushed back one day from regular schedule because of Election Day – Go Vote!).
In his last post in this sequence, Gadfly included in his cluster of possible outcomes next Wednesday a “Kumbaya moment.” He wishes. But ain’t gonna happen, right? He bets none of you mentally voted for that option.
The proposal process has been strained.
Whoever “wins,” there will probably be ugly feelings.
But it shouldn’t be about winning and losing (Gadfly moonlights as a philosopher on weekends), but about doing what’s best for the City. For you. For us.
So we should still dream of Kumbaya moments and how to achieve them.
This “conjoined twins” system, as I have dubbed it (got a better analogy? let Gadfly know), of artificially dividing responsibility between the Mayor and City Council on what by nature seems to be one decision looks fated to create conflict. Gadfly is looking into the history of the system and will report soon. Maybe it would be wise to think about changing the system, depending on what he finds. What the City has wrought, the City can unwrought.
Gadfly is even still unsure about the larger division of responsibility between the City and “Authorities.” He just doesn’t know anything about that rationale. But he does know that parking used to be a City not Authority function. That whole set-up might be worth looking into as well.
Anyway, we’re in a waiting mode, and Gadfly has restless mind syndrome. Here are a few random thought fragments related to the parking issue:
- Since deciding to devote time to observing City government in January, Gadfly has been doing his best to attend all kinds of City meetings. He has not gotten around to all of the Boards, Commissions, Committees, and Authorities yet but planned to make his first visit to the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority (BRIA) yesterday, only to find out that, unfortunately, the meeting was canceled. In looking over material on the website for BRIA, however, Gadfly noticed that the BRIA chair is James Broughal, who is also Board solicitor of the Bethlehem Parking Authority. That’s two powerful positions and possibly with conflicting or overlapping interests. That led him to wonder whether there were any rules about how many appointments one person could have. That wondering was reinforced last night at another meeting when the chair remarked that she had to step down from a second committee because of a City rule limiting appointments to one. It might be that Mr. Broughal’s dual appointments are contrary to City rules. Worth looking in to.
- The Bethlehem Parking Authority Board chairperson has been a member of the Board since 2000 and chair since 2008. Almost two decades. That’s pretty heroic voluntary public service. Above and beyond the call of civic duty. (By the way, in an earlier post, Gadfly speculated that the BC’s imposing frame must have meant he was an athlete. Indeed, a little research showed the BC was a stellar, multi-sport athlete. He still looks in great shape.) That got me to wondering whether long tenure on City committees is a good thing. Service is voluntary, of course, and staffing committees with willing and capable residents must be a concern for the Mayor. And the experience in the business of the committee that comes with a long tenure is a valuable thing to have. On the other hand, the value of “term limits” is a check on complacency and fosters fresh perspectives. It’s a conversation worth having.
- Gadfly had reasons for requesting individual email addresses of Board members rather than the group email he was provided. For instance, Gadfly knew that two of the BPA Board members were prominent local small business owners (he doesn’t know what the other three members do), and when he was all in a hot buzz about lack of documentation from the April 12 public meeting, he wanted to ask them if they were comfortable with, in effect, the BPA asking for feedback from “customers” and then seemingly ignoring it. Gadfly was sure that would not be a business practice they would condone. But he could not reach them to discuss it. Gadfly can see an argument for protecting volunteers from bothersome, nuisance, public contact. But, on the other hand, when million-dollar decisions are being made, the public deserves some better direct contact. Good arguments on both sides. Another good conversation worth having. Gadfly wonders if there is any City guideline on publishing contact info of City Authorities, Boards, Commissions, etc.
“Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season,” as one of our most challenging poets has said.