By: Diane Benjamin
For the second time in recent months Normal was incapable of live streaming with good audio. The posted video still has the same problem, luckily it was fixed almost 13 minutes into the meeting. About every 20 seconds the prior audio was replayed over the first. In another 20 seconds a third version was added.
The entire Liquor Commission meeting was played in a three ring loop which continued during the Council meeting including the Pledge of Allegiance. The problems coincide with Normal hiring a person with little experience in technology – Vasudha Gadhiraju. She is listed as the Director of Information and Technology. Previously she led the McLean County Regional Planning Commission. I remember hearing comments that it would take her 6-9 months to learn the job. Professional Staff?
Mayor Koos was not at the meeting, it was conducted by Kevin McCarthy. I really enjoy the mystery of people you elect not showing up and everyone on the Council pretends that’s okay. Evidently, once elected, it isn’t your job to represent the people who elected you. Of course we see that frequently anyway even when they do show up.
No one signed up for Public Comment. It would have been fun to see McCarthy throw people out because they didn’t speak to agenda items.
All three items that used to be automatic votes were pulled from the Omnibus Agenda.
The first item pulled was approving the minutes of the Work Session held on December 6th. It was pulled by Stan Nord. The Work Session occurred right after the Citizens Summitt and incorporated many ideas from citizens. The facilitator hired by Normal, Lyle Sumek, is suppose to be compiling a report. The minutes say next to nothing. Stan wanted to know when that report would be available, he didn’t receive a real answer. The Town isn’t pleased with items like No Sports Complex, No Underpass, sublet the 2nd floor of 1 Uptown Circle, Uptown parking management, Trail East, empty space at 1 Uptown Circle, and No Uptown 2.0. Let’s see how long they try to hide the report.
The next item pulled, also by Stan, was bills. He questioned the Uptown Business Association contribution of $10,000. He wanted to know how much other members contribute, Pam Reece didn’t know. Stan asked if Normal contributes to other business associations, the answer was no. Stan wants the Association to support itself eventually.
McCarthy responded by recapping Bloomington’s DBA history, he thinks Bloomington hired the former association staff because they realize the importance of promotion. Actually Kevin, the downtown businesses did not provide financial support. The two employees got a stable income, benefits, and pensions by becoming City employees. Meanwhile, CVS either moved out or is moving out.
Next Stan questioned why the Town is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and paying them for it. He thinks there is a conflict of interest with government being a member of a business organization. The Town recently funded their Work Force Development plan. Pam Reece explained they have a long history and it doesn’t conflict as long as the money isn’t used for political purposes. She also claims Normal is a significant employer and finds value in the membership. No one explained how the Chamber raises money for their PAC. Karyn Smith stated unions divert part of dues, she didn’t get clarity on how the Chamber is different.
The Cottage Avenue final development plan was pulled by Karyn. She was concerned about the availability of units for person with disabilities. A staff person explained the units have no steps, but code doesn’t require any special accommodations.
27:00 Karyn Smith – Leaf pickup is over. January 16th is an all day Budget Work Session. This session will be lived streamed and archived on the website. Maybe audio can be clear this time.
28:20 Stan Nord read a letter from a citizen who attended the Citizens Summit. If you watch nothing else, just hit play below to hear it. Pam Reece didn’t appreciate Stan’s points, she stated many other priorities will be in the report too. Kathleen Lorenz chimed in on the same letter, she also was in contact with the letter writer. She responded to that person with a detailed email. She didn’t say if the person responded to her again.
A formally 5 minute meeting stretched into over 30 minutes. The Liquor Commission meeting was barely audible, but it sounded like “staff” handles enforcement. Council merely gets a report.