Friday, April 18, 2014

Misconception

Video of the Columbus Common Council 

Video of the  Committee of the Whole (COW) 

I don't want to dwell on the workings and thought process of the council because all I know about are MY personal feelings but I do want to clear up some misconception's.  The one thing I have seen in the last few years is that no one knows the back story on why things happen the way they do in council which in turn sparks wild speculation and wrong assumptions and I want to make things clearer.  

It has also come to my attention that the developer of the Commerce Center has been calling people telling them that the council does not want new development and spreading other rumors when perhaps he does not know all the facts.  That's fine, its a free country and he can do what he wants but he is 100% wrong.

The whole controversy of approving the agenda at the beginning the Common Council could have been avoided.  At the last council there was a request to have item 6 concerning the Conditional Use Permit put on the agenda for the COW.  This would have given the new members of the council more time to wrap their head around the intricacies of this request.  What get's approved for the Commerce Center effects the entire city, not just that one area.  We could have asked questions and had more time to try to understand all that was going down. One weekend is not enough time to be thrown into the fire with all the issues we were looking at.

This request was ignored because I assume they wanted to rush it through and thus a measure was taken to give us more time.

I can totally understand that the developer wants to put shovels in the ground, he's doing his job. That area needs a commercial anchor.  But as a council member I personally have a responsibility to the people of Columbus and I don't want to be rushed into making a decision before I'm ready. That is MY job. 

As you can see by the very first vote of the new council we are NOT a team and that is good! I don't want to be on a team. The Council should NEVER have a team.

There are many things that sometimes people do not understand when it comes to politics and rules.

For instance, at the School Board meeting concerning the purchase of that house near the grade school.  A question was asked "Have any of you even gone and looked at the house, raise your hand".  And not one person raised their hand.

To a normal citizen (like me) I was shocked.  But then I learned that they are not allowed to respond and ALL of then had toured the house.

Just like that first council vote. There was a real reason for wanting to put off voting, NOT because the council was anti business but because the new members needed more time to gain knowledge. Should we just blindly vote without really knowing all the ramifications of what happens down the road?  Is that what the citizens of Columbus want?  I would hope not.


My personal opinion
Rod 
      






Thursday, April 17, 2014

16/60 Reconstruction, Carlo Gomez

I want to draw your attention to the right side where it says "The needed words". 

I was reading guidelines for Social Media that Municipalities should know about, PARTICULARLY Facebook and blogs and how Municipalities with Facebook pages need to be concerned with open meeting laws, you don't have to have a quorum to get in trouble because there are such things as "walking quorums".  (Maybe a new show on AMC?  The Walking Quorums).

OH - did y'all see that a card (10 of spades??) picked the winner of a alderperson race in Baraboo? Seems two candidates were tied so it came down to picking a card.  I wonder if Columbus has a contingency plan for ties.

One thing I want to stress about the new Grocery Store - the council members that voted to wait on passing the zoning thing are NOT against the store.  All we want is to make sure everything is done correctly.  If we would have voted to pass it might have had ramifications throughout the town causing other problems in the future. (I'm talking out of semi-ignorance at the moment - still learning).

My view is if the problems are not fixed and not on paper that have been fixed, then they have not been fixed. Promises don't hold a lot of water in court.  Do you want a gentlemens club in that area?  It's a Industrial TIF area that is being used for commercial at the moment. This is fine as long as there is control of what "commercial" actually means.  Strip clubs are commercial, adult book stores are commercial - just sayin'.
     
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Carlo Gomez and the Brewers.

If you look back a few years you will probably find that I'm been a Carlos fan from the very beginning. When he was traded to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy the one thing Minnesota people said was he was a human highlight reel in the outfield.

So I was looking at numbers and metrics yesterday and saw a few things.

Carlo Gomez, hands down, is the best CF in the majors defensively (and maybe offensively now).  Last year he led the majors in robbing Home Runs with 5 which by itself accounted for 8 runs saved, the next best was 2.  In the last 10 years since those records have been kept he is #2 in the majors (Tori Hunter has 1 more) at robbing home runs.

But wait - there is a metric introduced by John Dewan in The Fielding Bible that has "Defensive Runs Saved" which combines 7 other metrics which I won't go into because I don't really understand them . . . . yet.

Last year Carlos saved 38 runs on defense (0 is league average) leading the majors and in the last three years he has almost doubled the  amount of runs saved from the 2nd place dude Austin Jackson.

Of note is Rickie Weeks.  In the last 3 years Weeks is the worst second baseman in the world defensively letting 50 runs go past his glove. Dan Uggla is 2nd worst with 28.  Oh, Prince Fielder you ask?  Worst full time 1st basement. 

Of course we all know that Baseball Prospectus said that last years Brewers 1st base combination, offensively AND defensively was the worst "IN THE RECORDED HISTORY OF BASEBALL" (well, since 1900).   

Oh yea, Aramis Ramirez is the 3rd worst 3B in the last 3 years.

Interestingly enough the Brewer outfield was REALLY good.   Braun is 6th best in the majors, Gomez is THE best and Norichika Aoki was 5th best in the last 3 years. And one more thing is Martin Maldonado, 7th best defensive catcher in the majors.

A sidelight is range. A guy can have a GREAT glove but no range. 

When I played my 25 years of softball in the #2 league in Madison (small brag there, reminiscing, sorry) our 3B had a GREAT glove, but zero range.   Ricki Weeks, by far has the least range of all 2Ber's.   I almost forgot, Derek Jeter is the worst SS defensively. And if you are wondering Alcides Segura is  . . . . better then average (+4).

For my Phillie friend, Chase Utley is worse then average (-4) 2B, Jimmy Rollins is horrible, almost the worst (-15) Domonic Brown (-7) , Carlos Ruiz (+3).

Brewers regulars Weeks (-15), Segura (+4) Gomez (+38) Aoki (+13) Lucroy (-2)
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16/60 Reconstruction

I attended the 16/60 Reconstruction and was sort of amazed at the scope.  I don't think a lot of people understand how BIG (and expensive - not covered last night for home owners) this is going to be.  It ain't just the highway going through town. No no.

The entire area around the KwikTrip is changing, hopefully that driveway to get to Pic-N-Save and KwikTrip will be a thing of the past  by moving that entrance down further.   The stop lights and lanes will change around Walgreens once a road is put in (yea, no roads there for a while).

Another section getting a overhaul is the Manning Street area shaded below.  This is going to be a contention point as some want that closed off completely and there are 4 different plans for this intersection.    


One thing I chuckled at was when the people from DOT were talking about all the trees along the corridor that were "in danger". 

In danger?  You mean they will be cut down right? Don't fall in love when your trees as they will soon have a big orange X on them.

The city will get a good amount of money to replace those trees.  For every tree chopped down we will get some big bucks to replace.  So if anybody wants to, now would be a good time to plant some fast growing trees.  >;-)

I'm on the task force for the strategic plan so if you have any comments, bring them in.  Once my new email address is running I can respond officially.  We really want feedback.

OK - I gotta drive walk to Beaver Dam for a new drivers license.  I realized last night that mine seems to have expired a month ago,  never got a letter or anything.

See ya

Rod   

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

I suppose there will be more readers today after the Council so I'll try to be politically correct ( or at least I will attempt to be, it's so so hard).
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When the city attorney proclaimed at 9:30 that we should table the final closed session meeting because of the time I was actually disappointed.  THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN!!  Seriously.  I loved every second.  I was not ready to quit, I still had a good hour left in me. One member to my right was ready to leave an hour earlier I think  LOL

It all started with a BANG and after 5 minutes I suspect some people were a little startled.  This city council was not like the councils of the recent past.  Not that there was anything wrong with past councils but a major altercation concerning the approval of the agenda sort of made people sit up and take notice.  Yikes, we're here to play ball.

The crux of the problem was with the Commerce Center and Aldermen Clark wanted to table the conversation because the Commerce Center did not have all of their ducks in a row yet.  Why should we vote on something NOW when all of the listed problems had not been worked out yet.   

And I agree.

It was sort of a shot across the bow to developers, get your papers in order and THEN come to the Council for permission.  Let's not agree to things that have not yet been completed.  We are not going to rubber stamp something on a promise.   HOWEVER - there were representatives from True Value/Sentry Foods and Ace Hardware who wanted to meet and greet.

The vote for NOT letting them talk and tabling was Thom, Royem and Clark and the vote for letting them speak was Adams, Melotte and Bomcamp with The Mayor voting for them to speak.  The key was that even if we talked about the recommendation we did not HAVE to vote.

And that was the very first action of the new Council.  WHEW!  Game on!

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The new store will be 30,000 square feet and will be the very first combined Sentry/Ace Hardware.  They will employ 50 to 60 people from the area with half the positions being full time and will offer insurance. I wanted to hear about the part time employees and if they would have insurance available because I found out that a department in Columbus purposely has one employee on 29 hours instead of 30 so they don't have to give this individual insurance,  I think this is abhorrent.

Once the presentation was finished and we were assured that the problems with this one area would be worked out in a few days the vote was taken and it was tabled.  

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Other actions of note were that Columbus might actually have our own street sweeper soon.

Presently we pay $13.500 a year to have our streets swept twice a year but we have a chance to picked up a 2001 sweeper with 5000 hours on it for $25,000.  This should last 10 years.  Aldermen Royem asked to have an oil analyses before we make the purchase and if the physical examination passes we should have our own sweeper.

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A small rewording to a position description for a part time Economic Development & Marketing Position was approved and applications are being accepted.

It doesn't sound like much for that took 1:45 hours

The Council of the Whole was next and this is basically new business.
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There was a review/recap of the intercity snowmobile trails.  This was the 1st year for this so in my view it was a learning year. You really don't know the problems until you see what happens.  There were a few glitches and adjustments will be made but it seems most people think it was a success.
 
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Parks and Rec want to put aside $100 for each rental agreement to put towards maintenance of the Pavilion and Rest Haven.  This came under fire from the Mayor who said that as of last year rental fees did not cover the cost of maintaining the building so putting aside money should not be an option.

On one hand I agree with him, HOWEVER, "we" (Parks and Rec) restructured our fees and I do not believe we will run at a deficit this year. Thom had an idea of instead of $100 per rental make it a percent and Crombi countered with a set amount.  For instance, since it costs $25,000 a year to maintain, any funds over $25K be put for maintenance.  The problem with this is timing of said funds at the end of the year.     

ANYWAY - Amy Jo will bring data to the next council showing that we should be making a profit from here on from rentals. I personally felt that we were a little  . . . . . contentious on this subject and somehow I feel we should apologize to Amy.  It's a great idea, we just have to work out the kinks and I personally thank her.
  
Seeing numbers and so forth will help on this subject.

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There was talk about an employment agreement for Loren Glasbrenner who runs the city pool that I personally do not understand enough about to have an opinion.  Questions were asked about job descriptions as the Pool and Parks and Rec have seemed to split into two entities with no clear job boundaries.  This will be discussed again.

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The creation of the CSS Task Force was discussed and the need for one and who should be on it.

The background on this is this.

This has to do with the 16/60 reconstruction which will kill Columbus downtown business for a summer, it will be horrific.  The DOT said "we need a strategic plan by late June".  And we just found out about this two weeks ago.

Being on the CDA we have been working on this but we knew we had at least a year and had just gotten estimates on how much things cost.  HOWEVER - now we have 2 months for an official document OR, the entire project could be moved back a few years.

Bomcamp then complains that Rod and Nathen should NOT be on the task force because we are on the CDA* which is totally useless and we have done nothing for two years.

I ignored his insult to whomever it was intended for and we moved on.

So the plan is to spend about $8K to hire a consultant that has done this before in Oregon, Sun Prairie Watertown, Grafton and a few other places.  He will be a facilitator  in charge with knowledge and the task force will tell him what we want.  We only get this chance once and I felt knowledge is a very important thing and we don't have a lot of time.    

This will move forward.

CDA* - here is the problem with the CDA.  I believe the CDA is sort of a think tank. But I believe a huge problem is where we meet.  The Council Chamber is a horrible place for ideas. 

Next time you have a meeting and are tasked to brainstorm and come up with ideas, have everybody put there chair against a wall so everyone is facing an empty room and no one can see anybody else and then bounce ideas around.   No one can really see anybody else, no facial expressions, no body language and when you speak you are speaking to an empty room and not the other members on your team. 

Do you think that is how Apple did it?

The Council Chambers is an idea crusher. 

Just my personal opinion.  Plus CDA meets only once a month.

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We are considering a subcommittee to review and come up with a website which, against MY judgement, a very nice site was voted down a few months ago (I was a web designer in a former life and did not see any real problems).

And then the sad word came up  adourn  :-(

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I believe the new council was great.  Lots of ideas, opinions and activity.  I felt like I personally was Council lite.  I'm not a construction person, more of a visionary but I feel each member of the council has certain things they excel in, it's a well rounded group that want to get things done correctly without just rubber stamping things.

I'm sure some will complain about "micro managing" but it's better then not managing at all.