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

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 10/1/2008

On the Agenda for Sept. 22

R 1222 Resolution on the death of Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr., July 17, 1963-Sept. 20, 2008 Council members eulogized their former colleague Kenneth Harris for an hour during the meeting, remembering his prankster spirit and fierce independence. Harris, who represented the northeast neighborhoods of the Fourth District from 1999 until last year, was shot during a robbery of the New Haven Lounge early in the morning of Sept. 20. He left a wife and two children. "We lost a very fine individual," Second District Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo said, choking back tears. He added that Harris was also known to page fellow councilman Keiffer Mitchell late at night and punch in D'Adamo's number.

"He was a grocery shopper for his household," said Eighth District Councilwoman Helen Holton. "He didn't shy away from being on the nonprevailing side. His life made a difference. It will continue to make a difference. His mark on this city will be lasting.

He was not just my colleague, he was my friend."

Words of condolence can be offered through a web site linked to the City Council's site: kenharrismemorial.wordpress.com

Bill 08-0208 Plastic Bags--Surcharge; 08-0209 Paper Bags--Surcharge Would impose a 25 cent surcharge on common grocery bags, the idea being to limit their use and encourage reusable bags.

The Read: These are detailed bills specifying bag sizes, exemptions, and even criminal penalties for noncompliance (six months in the pokey plus a $1,000 fine). The six-page bills are nearly identical, except one specifies paper and the other plastic, but First District Councilman James Kraft, who has pushed environmental proposals for years, did not co-sponsor the paper-bag surcharge.

08-0210--Vacant Structure--Requisites for Transfer Would require anyone selling or giving away a vacant building to either fix the basics--roof, gutters, doors, etc.--first, or to certify a "funded plan" to do so with the city's building official.

The Read: The problem is all too familiar to anyone who owns or lives in a rowhouse. As lead sponsor Seventh District Councilwoman Belinda Conaway says, these basic improvements are necessary "to keep vacant structures from ruining other people's properties." Of course, given that the city itself owns thousands of vacant, dilapidated structures (dozens of which still collapse each year), it remains to be seen how workable this proposed ordinance really is.

City Council Quote of the Week

"Still, I feel in disbelief that someone who had such a zest for life is no longer with us. We just shouldn't be here talking about him in the past tense." --City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 6 at 5 p.m.

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