I've been attending meetings for quite a while now, and there is always discussion ad nauseum about getting grass cut at abandoned houses. What a waste of time! I simply don't understand why meetings are filled with such items when they could easily be accomplished by calling a city employee on the phone. If you look at an Agenda for one of these meetings, you never see anything of substance. The only public hearings they have are for issues required by law.
For example, everyone knows the Board is considering bringing a casino to the Natchez Riverfront, but it has never been on their Agenda. The only reason it was discussed tonight is because three citizens (Gwen Ball, Neil Varnell, and I) asked for time to discuss it. My testimony was basically asking them to involve the citizens in their decisions about the use of city property. Gwen discussed some of the research on casinos. Neil urged them to abide by the Chadbourne plan for waterfront development. Mostly our testimony was met with stares, although I'm quite certain that Aldermen Massey was snearing at us and even made a snide remark under his breath. Gwen asked the Aldermen if they had a vision or a plan for the city. After a period of silence, Aldermen Middleton said his vision was for jobs. Perhaps the most telling moment was when Neil offered to go over the Chadbourne plan and asked if anyone was willing to do this. Only Middleton raised his hand. The rest were totally disinterested in learning about it, even though theoretically they're bound to abide by it - and I'd bet my last dollar none of them are knowledgeable about it. There has been speculation that Middleton is planning to run for Mayor, which may explain why he's being nice.
During the reports of the Aldermen, Aldermen Gray told us why he walked out of the meeting last time. He said that a city employee, without any authorization at all, negotiated with a developer for a casino and presented a contract to the Board. Aldermen Gray said he didn't want any more citizen lawsuits, and he knew that was not the legal way to do it, and he was having nothing to do with it. After the meeting, I asked him if the city employee was David Gardner, since someone had posted a comment on this blog to that effect. He said it was. Even the most boring meeting has its gems!
I think I forgot to tell you that, as a result of Aldermen Gray and Mathis walking out, the City has solicited bids on the development of Roth Hill. Bids are due in mid November.
UPDATE: The ad is in today's paper and says:
REQUESTS FOR PROPOSAL. Notice is hereby given that the City of Natchez, Mississippi is Requesting Proposals for the Lease or Purchase and Development of the Roth Hill Road Site until 5 pm on November 16 2006.
I also attended two other meetings that are never attended by the public, although by law they are open. One was the "Working Session" yesterday and the other was the Finance Committee today. In both cases, I was the only person there, although Joan Gandy from the Democrat came late to both. I don't know if I inhibited them or not, but they surely didn't do much of anything in either meeting. It was mostly chit chat about this and that, with no organization that I could ascertain.
In the meeting this afternoon, they voted to go into Executive Session after about 30 minutes, which meant Joan and I had to leave. There are legal reasons to go into Executive Session, but there's no way to tell what they talked about once we left. I can tell you they go into Executive Session a lot.
There is another "Working Session" next Wednesday at 4 pm, in case anyone is interested in joining me. This Wednesday (October 25) is the meeting of the Community Alliance at 3 pm in the Convention Center.
PS I will be letting you know of an organizational meeting in the near future.
PSS It would be helpful if Commenters would register a name before leaving a comment. When everyone uses Anonymous, it makes it difficult for us to respond to comments. Let me assure you that no one, including me, knows who you are when you register except Google.