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Councilmania

Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Daniel Haggerty | Posted 5/31/2006

On the Council Agenda April 24

This week’s Councilmania contains information from City Council meetings held on May 8 and 15, meetings that took place while City Paper was in the heat of producing its annual Sizzlin’ Summer issue, which hit the streets last week. For those of you who want to know what the council was up to while we were busy, here are some highlights from the meetings we missed.

Resolution 06-0180R Energy Assistance Program (introduced May 8) Requests that the city contribute funds to the Energy Assistance Program, a federally funded program administered through the state Department of Human Resources that provides financial assistance to low-income Maryland residents struggling to pay electric and utility bills. The City Council would like more funds to be readily available to needy residents this summer to combat soaring electricity rates.

Public Interest Grade: C+ Good concept, but resolutions are not bills and don’t have any power. Plus, the resolution is weak on details, including how much the city should contribute and exactly whom it will benefit.

Bill 06-0440 Baltimore City Veterans’ Commission (introduced May 15) Would establish a Baltimore City Veterans’ Commission to serve three main purposes: 1) provide community outreach to city veterans and their families; 2) act as an information resource for the mayor and City Council; and 3) increase community awareness on a variety of veterans’ issues.

Public Interest Grade A Such a commission would serve as a vital resource for the city’s 55,000-plus veterans and their families. Similar to existing state and federal counterparts, a Baltimore City Veterans’ Commission would act in conjunction with local authorities to offer essential services to citizens who have served in our armed forces—something we’re certain will be in increasing demand as the war in the Middle East drones on.

Bill 06-0442 Retirement Systems—Travel Expense (introduced May 15) Imposes certain requirements for travel reimbursement to seminars, conventions, and other events for the members and staff of the boards of trustees of the Employees’ Retirement System and the Fire and Police Employees’ Retirement System.

Public Interest Grade: B+ Oversight and accountability of the use of taxpayer dollars is essential to establishing and maintaining the public trust. Recent “outings” by various members of the city’s public pension fund highlights the necessity of such regulations. (See City Paper’s April 12 Nose: “Exotic Ethics.”) Although we hear it is nice this time of year, we think the city’s taxpayer dollars would be better spent in places other than Monte Carlo. Baltimore, for example.

City Council Fact of the Week

This installment of Councilmania covers the events from two City Council meetings, held May 8 and May 15. In contrast to its regular schedule of alternate Monday evening meetings, the City Council recently convened for four consecutive weeks, beginning on Monday, April 24, and continuing through Monday, May 15. During the month of June, the council will meet twice—June 5 and 12—but during July and August, it will only meet once per month. The council will resume its twice-a-month meeting schedule in September. For a master list of all City Council meeting dates, in addition to legislation and information on other council activities, consult www.baltimorecitycouncil.com.

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