Monday, March 26, 2007

Tonight's Public Hearing

There was a public hearing in the Aldermanic Chamber tonight. Hardly anyone showed up. Maybe 52 people (as pointed out by Nick Augelli). The hearing was an opportunity for the taxpayers of Waterbury to have their say about the plans to renovate City Hall. Does the poor attendance mean that nobody cares? When the project was on the ballot, thousands of people voted on the topic. Fifty-two people showed up tonight. Some heard about it watching cable access. Personally, I believe the poor attendance was in large part the fault of the Republican-American. The big news in today's paper was tonight's public hearing in Naugatuck. No mention of the one here in Waterbury. They recently dropped Waterbury from their name; lately it has seemed more like the Naugatuck Republican-American. At least they remembered to send a reporter to cover the Waterbury hearing.

Most of the taxpayers who spoke tonight have spoken before on the subject. Some have spoken numerous times on the subject. Unfortunately, it sounds like the Independents want to waste more money with another referendum. A referendum costs $40,000 and a minimum of six months time. The longer it takes to get going with the project, the higher the costs are going to be. All aspects of the decision-making process have been open to the public. It seems like everyone agrees that we need to move forward with either Option 4 or Option 5 (view full details at

The city taxpayers have had plenty of opportunities to let the aldermen know what they think. Now it's time for them to make a decision.

The hearing ended with a little bit of confusion. In 2005, the Board of Aldermen voted that public speaking at public hearings would be limited to 5 minutes per speaker. DePillo wanted to be able to speak for as long as he wanted. He wasn't willing to say how much time he wanted, but it sounded like a minimum of 15-30 minutes. He asked for more time when he got up to speak, after an hour of other speakers. Alderman Penerewski did a quick check of the rulebook and found that DePillo could be granted more time if the Board voted unanimously in favor. The vote was 6-4 in favor, so a majority, but not unanimous. Alderman Booker and several members of the public did not know what unanimous meant. I can understand the general public not knowing that word, but an Alderman should be familiar with the term, especially since he was on the Board of Aldermen when that rule was established.

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