(18th in a series of posts on City Government)
Next City Council meeting 4hrs from now as Gadfly writes this.
Can you make it?
If not, remember that the meetings are now filmed — accessible on the Council website, and accessible on Youtube.
And that they will soon be televised “live.” 7PM, first and third Tuesdays of the month.
A tip o’ the hat and wave of the wings again to President Waldron and others for making this happen.
We must take advantage.
To wit: I went to another meeting January 15 instead of Council, and so “took advantage.”
I’m glad I did.
There is a very interesting and revealing interchange at the January 15 meeting among CW Van Wirt, CM Callahan, and CM Reynolds.
Take a look. 10 mins. The full episode is 1:24:30 – 1:33:40.
The interchange is revelatory in respect to both substance and style of each council person.
I have said that one mission of the Gadfly project is to get to know the CPs better when it comes time to vote and to help you do the same.
CW Van Wirt is bothered by actions of three city agencies: Redevelopment Authority, Parking Authority, and BRIA. Here are clips of her concern, but watch the whole thing:
Why am I bringing all this up? Because I do not want it to go down unchecked in the public record. We as a Council are representatives of the taxpayers. We have not received an adequate explanation of why this $800,000 grant to the developer was made instead of into what the public would benefit from. I’m deeply troubled by the lack of oversight of our boards and commissions. . . . I’m concerned about lack of oversight of the Parking Authority. . . . Why does all this matter? These three Authorities – BRIA, Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, the Parking Authority – were created to work for Bethlehem citizens. . . . I think they have been exceptionally poor performers. . . . I will be calling out crony capitalism and poor management when I see it till things start to change.
CM Callahan responds by suggesting CW Van Wirt needs to do more research.
CM Reynolds cools things down a bit.
Passionate concern at visible wrong > defense of the ones perceived to be committing wrong > calm, sensible reconciliation.
Very interesting, and, I think, representative of their Council personae.
Now, in terms of the issue of oversight and explanation here, let Gadfly say that, as followers will surely remember, he followed the Parking Authority diligently through 70+ posts in the last quarter of 2018, and his conclusions on that organization align as completely and as passionately as CW Van Wirt’s.
That is one of the reasons for his Modest Proposal post of January 20:
that the half-dozen or so “independent” Authorities be requested to attend at least two City Council meetings per year, once in the first six months and once in the second, to report on current activities and future plans and to receive comments and questions from both Council members and the general public.
Let me take this opportunity to say that if you agree with this or any other modest proposal, that you take the opportunity to let the Mayor and/or Council know. We can’t be sure they are reading the blog. But, in any event, receiving responses from other than the Gadfly would be a great gauge of public worth. You can find links to email addresses on the Gadfly sidebar.
Two other allied sections in last meeting are worthy of attention too. During public comment Bruce Haines (begin min. 28:15) challenged Council to be more critical of those nominated for city boards, authorities, and commissions, and CW Van Wirt (begin min. 50:12) asked for resumes and contact info for nominees to be provided to Council. The idea from both is to tighten up the oversight.
Thumbs up from Gadfly based on his sense from following the Parking Authority that serving too long on a Board might in some cases be a problem and a sense that some board members are not involved as they should be.
So “take advantage” of the new opportunity afforded you to see your city government in action.