Tuesday, May 15, 2007

RTM Budget Meeting

Last night saw the annual Town budget marathon, which ran from 7 pm until almost midnight. As usual, there was much heat (why don't they air-condition the CMS auditorium?!) and less light (they kept flickering up and down as careless delegates seeking cool air hung out by the back door and rubbed their backs up and down against the switches). If one walked out onto the stoop and then came back in a few minutes later, it felt as though as all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room, no doubt a result of the endless speechifying.

Most of the budget proposed by the BET was passed without comment, but the body balked at the $350,000 "masterplan" for the downtown area (incomplete and premature) and the proposed $560,000 for stoplights on Greenwich Avenue (an expensive and unnecessary eyesore). So we saved you the better part of a million bucks, dear reader, although in the context of the other $365 million we passed, it hardly makes a difference.

Perhaps the most disappointing moment of the evening came towards the end, as we were all anticipating getting out of there and heading home. But no - Doug Wells, chairman of the Legislative & Rules Committee, came out of left field and moved (as an individual) that we chop the $7.6 million bonding proposal for "Project Renew Witherell". Given that just last month the RTM had supported the Witherell and its new board with a resounding vote of confidence, most of us were dumbfounded at Doug's rather graceless proposal. David Ormsby wearily took the floor to remind us, yet again, of all the reasons this town jewel merits our support, and Doug's motion was shot down in flames. Participatory democracy is a great thing, dear reader, but there are times, like this one, when one begins to wonder how much is too much....

Still and all, one of the great strengths of the RTM is its tradition of civility among its members, and even though there were audible groans at Doug's proposed cut (your scribe's among them), we believe in allowing all viewpoints to be heard and aired. And so we did, staying an extra quarter of an hour to stay true to our traditions. And, one hopes, to nail the coffin lid firmly shut on those few selfish and short-sighted detractors who think that our Town's century-old tradition of caring for our elderly - on land donated by Robert and Sarah Bruce, who also gave us the Bruce Museum, Bruce Park, and the Old Town Hall - is an unnecessary and wasteful expense. No doubt they would prefer to see the money spent on fancy-pants new traffic lights which will, of course, be totally ignored by the cellphone-chatting SUV drivers who already blow through all the other existing lights and crosswalks and stop signs around Town.

Well, if the reckless driving around this Town gets much worse, maybe we won't have an elderly population to worry about. There's a bright side to everything, dear reader.


Blogger ERiCA said...

Well, if the reckless driving around this Town gets much worse, maybe we won't have an elderly population to worry about.


Don't you hate that back-against-the-light-switches thing? Seems to happen at least once every time I go to a conference or similar. No clue how someone can not *notice* they just turned out the lights... =)

May 15, 2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

You're absolutely right, Erica. And the nuttiest part was that it happened not just once, but several times during the course of the evening. For a supposedly intelligent group, the Greenwich RTM can be absolutely clueless at times.

BTW, I was interested to read that Miami drivers are reputed to be the worst in the nation - running stop signs, tailgating, chattering on cellphones, texting at the wheel, putting on makeup (or shaving) in traffic, etc. But I doubt they'd last more than a few minutes around here, where driving while mentally impaired is a competitive sport. Reason: we have many more giganto SUVs and Hummers around here, which flatten (literally) the competition.

May 16, 2007 9:33 AM  
Blogger ERiCA said...

I have to say, Florida drivers in general... *shudders*

Although, in my state's defense, I blame it all on the tourists and the retirees. The latter for perhaps obvious reasons which I won't get into, and the former because I literally see them going 80 mph down the expressway with oversize highway maps open in front of their steering wheels. Aargh!

(I do have a friend who read Harry Potter as he drove to work, although he swears this was only at red lights....)

May 17, 2007 2:20 PM  

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