City Hall Reporters Notebook: Parking and Politicking edition
There was one question I couldn’t get answered in time for last week’s story on downtown parking.
The motion the Board of Aldermen unanimously approved, and Mayor Christopher Louras vetoed, was to support the “current” policy of enforcing the parking meter ordinance on Saturdays. If, as Louras says, there is no such current policy, wouldn’t that nullify the board’s vote?
Yup, said City Attorney Andrew Costello when I finally caught up with him.
“I think the only way for the board to exercise their authority under the ordinance is to explicitly vote on when to enforce parking,” he said.
The board’s vote was based on the belief that the ordinance gives the chief of police authority over when it is enforced and that the chief had, at some point, decided to enforce it on Saturdays. Louras has said the latter belief was incorrect and the product of a miscommunication. Costello said Thursday that the ordinance did not even give the chief that authority.
“Parking or standing a vehicle in a parking meter space, parking lot, coupon parking lot and/or street shall be lawful pursuant to such rates, times and schedules as the board of aldermen shall establish,” the ordinance reads.
The last time Costello could find that the board took action on the subject was Oct. 3, 1994.
Alderwoman Sharon Davis, the only member of the board then still serving (at least until John Cassarino gets sworn in tonight), reported on behalf of the Charter and Ordinance Committee, making a motion to set meter rates at 25 cents a half-hour in the short-term lots. Then-Alderman William Gillam moved to set the times of enforcement at 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays were explicitly left free. Both motions passed.
The public good
After last year’s vote on the board presidency, which was the first in some time, I paid careful attention to the committee assignments.
It would be hard to make a case that payback played any role there. William Notte, who opposed David Allaire for the seat, retained his committee chairmanship. Charles Romeo, who nominated Notte to run against Allaire, received his first chairmanship. It was reassuring to see no sign of the politics of vendetta in Rutland.
This year, Notte is challenging Allaire again, and the contest looks somewhat more contentious than last year’s. An outgoing alderman has blasted Allaire for breaking a pledge that he would not run again while Notte sent the Herald a commentary in which he declared, “The people of Rutland City do not deserve a president who clearly views the job as Plan B.”
Allaire has been relatively quiet, at least publicly.
Whoever wins, it will be impossible to say for sure that payback played a role if members of the losing side find themselves stripped of their previous assignments, and if it did, I certainly wouldn’t expect the victor to admit as much. We will all just have to watch what happens and draw our own conclusions.
Going for gas
The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce joined REDC on Thursday in calling on the Board of Aldermen to support extending the Vermont Gas pipeline to Middlebury.
Like REDC, the chamber wants to see the pipeline eventually extended to Rutland and executive vice president Thomas Donahue noted the Middlebury project will bring it “17 miles closer.”
“I just don’t see a downside to it,” Donahue said, echoing comments from REDC executive director Jamie Stewart that natural gas would benefit businesses large and small as well as homeowners. “It’s one of those large, big-picture infrastructure improvements that we can make to really stimulate this economy.”
Rutland is one of 11 municipalities to get money from the Vermont secretary of state’s office to make polling places more accessible.
A grant of $5,000 will help pay for sidewalks and sidewalk ramps outside Christ the King School, where voters in the Southeast ward cast their ballots.
The Board of Aldermen meets at 7 p.m. It is the reorganizational meeting, featuring the aforementioned election of the board president.
Tuesday, the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce holds its March mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. at the College of St. Joseph.
Wednesday, the Rutland Business Summit starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Franklin Conference Center.