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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of March 19, 2013

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 3/5/2012 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

City Website has changed - Here is a link to the City of Hickory Document Center

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link: 

City Council Action Agenda - March 19, 2013 

A Note from the Hound: Sorry it took a while to get this out. I had other priorities and obligations that caused this to be delayed by a week. Just trying to make ends meet and get things done in my life. I am sure that most of you can understand that. My hands are full and tied most of the time. I appreciate those of you that read this information and even more those who act upon it.

Invocation by Rev. Bob Roach, Pastor, First United Methodist

Special Presentations -
(1:55) - Business Well Crafted Presentation Award, presented by Dave Paist to Alex Lee, Inc.

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
(6:15) - David Crosby speaks against Video Presentations of City Council Meetings. (You can read my comments about Mr. Crosby's comments below.)

Consent Agenda: (10:15)
A. Request Approval to Issue a Pyrotechnic Display Permit at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC). - St. Stephen’s High School has requested to obtain permission for Zambelli Fireworks Company to provide a public display of pyrotechnics at CVCC after the graduation ceremonies on May 25, 2013. The North Carolina Fire Code requires a mandatory operational permit for the use and handling of pyrotechnic special effects material. The Fire Prevention Bureau shall review all required documentation and will also inspect the pyrotechnics display area prior to the event to ensure compliance.

B. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following requests were considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on March 5, 2013:

 Maudie Hewitt, 232 10th Avenue SE, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $15,000.00 for repairs to her house. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 20 year period.

Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2012 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

Each of the following applicants is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2012 Urgent Repair Program. This program provides qualified low income citizens with assistance for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,400.

 Z. Ann Hoyle, 628 South Center Street, Hickory,
 Lucille Griggs, 1073 20th Street NE, Hickory,

C. Special Event/Activities Application for Ignite Hickory, Charles Moretz and Christopher Harris, Managers of Ignite Hickory, Inc., for a Community Worship, on April 13, 2013 from 2:30 pm to 10:00 pm in Downtown Hickory Under The Sails.

D. Special Event/Activities Application for National Day of Prayer, Steve Clark, Chairman, Hickory Committee for National Day of Prayer, on Thursday, May 2, 2013 from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm on Union Square. 

E. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 15.

1. To transfer $15,544 of General Fund Contingency to the 800 Megahertz Radio
System Upgrade and Rebanding Capital Project. This transfer is necessary to
complete and close out the City of Hickory's project.

F. Capital Project Ordinance Amendment No. 3.

1. To accept a $15,544 transfer from General Fund Contingency to the 800
Megahertz Radio System Upgrade and Rebanding Capital Project line item. This
transfer is necessary to complete and close out the City of Hickory's project.

Informational Items (10:35)
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to the Mayor’s Meeting with Governor McCrory in Raleigh, NC on March 5-6, 2013 (Meals - $71.75; Mileage Reimbursement $189.84; Lodging - $101.48) (Exhibit X.A.)

New Business - Departmental Reports:

1. (11:10) Update on Council Chambers Audio-Video Improvements. - City Council directed staff to finalize recommended options and provide costs for certain additional improvements with the consideration of properly representing the City through a well crafted presentation.

The Hound is very much disappointed about the attitudes towrards video taping these meetings. That goes to Mr. Crosby's statements above, during citizens requesting to be heard, as well.  If these people haven't spoken to anyone who is in favor of videoing these meetings, then I suggest that they get outside of the little group they hang around with and listen to what the regular folks are saying.

This is about transparency. Mr. Crosby can talk about the waste of money and only 30 people listening to this. This is the same David Crosby that wanted to shut down members of the CEG from passing out materials at the Saturday Farmer's Market when the referendum was taking place. Once again the oldsters going about trying to shut down Democracy in Hickory when it doesn't fit their criteria.

I've seen some nights over the last few years that certainly deserved video coverage. A few examples would be the nights when the battle over the pools were taking place. There were also a couple nights that involved moving the Farmer's Market from the Depot Parking Lot to Union Square. And of course there was the fiasco surrounding the structure on Union Square where they made it a Departmental Report so that Citizens couldn't speak. And there was the night when representatives of the CEG, with the help of Rebecca Inglefield, had items removed from the Consent Agenda and this is in my opinion is why the City hasn't dropped charges on Rebecca related to the incident at City Hall when they didn't want to be forthright about the cost figures related to the structure on Union Square.

You can go on and on. Yeah 30 people might start out watching it, but I can tell you that the number is more than that already. And if these meetings are televised, and something like what I pointed to above does happen, then there will be many more people paying attention.

Danny Seaver says "if they aren't going to be live, then what good are they." Well the deal is that they will be archived. On the Hound I have people looking at the old Newsletters related to what happened at City Council meetings back in 2008 and 2009. They are history and references and I would think a school teacher that I have heard so many people show appreciation to would understand such a concept. Mr. Seaver talked about by the time this is released it is old news and already been in the paper. God Bless Larry Clark and the HDR, but the limited articles produced in the Record do not convey what is happening at these meetings. I learned that when I started attending these meetings. Sometimes you need to eyeball some things yourself. It is all about checks and balances. The people are the government. They deserve to know what is going on.

The comments above were highly disappointing, but they are entitled to them.
I appreciate the information provided by the City Inc. related to this video recording process and I think it is a great basis for the conversation moving forward. I personally don't think the Mural of Downtown needs to be removed. You can see the video above I have made and it is laughable to say it detracts from anything. Better sound is needed definitely. Better lighting? The lighting seems fine to me and my little ole camera has no lighting enhancement, but we can give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. So, $14,000 for the system put forward by Hickory Inc., but personally I don't care if you set up a camera with a tripod. These meetings should be recorded and broadcast and there are no excuses just a whole lot of subterfuge. We don't have to have the bells and whistles. We need to get to the 21st Century first.

This is very important and if we have hundreds of thousand of dollars to spend on a glorified tent on Union Square and the other "priorities" I have seen over the past years, then we have a few thousand dollars to spend to have transparent and open government brought to the people. Mr. Crosby might want to take us back to 1938, but most of us understand the evolution of this world and trying to hold these realities back is hurting Hickory. The people like this are never going to get it. We will continue marching forward.

2. (31:10) Approval of an Offer to Purchase and Contract from Habitat for Humanity of the Catawba Valley, Inc. to City of Hickory to Purchase Property Located at 159 12th Street Court SE, Hickory, in the Amount of $54,000 (Lot 16, Plat Book 48 Page 184, Catawba County PIN 3713-18-30-3145) - This property purchase offers a creative way to advance the city’s Community Development Block Grant Housing Rehabilitation and Purchase program. The home is located at 159 12th Street Court SE, and contains roughly 1200 square feet with four bedrooms and two full baths. It has been appraised at $54,000. Habitat for Humanity of the Catawba Valley obtained the property by taking a deed in lieu of foreclosure. If purchased, the home would be renovated for occupancy by a low to moderate income owner occupant. Purchasing this home for rehabilitation will enable the city to continue to advance its Consolidated Plan goals of protecting the city’s existing housing stock and advancing single family home ownership while also advancing the city’s continued partnership with Habitat for Humanity of the Catawba Valley.

The city’s purchase of the property will allow Habitat to leverage their rehabilitation funding and increase the number of existing homes renovated for low to moderate income homeowners. It is estimated that the city purchase of this home will free up enough funding to enable Habitat to rehabilitate three additional homes for low and moderate income homeowners. In addition, Habitat has agreed to assist the city in finding a family to occupy the home. The sale of the property will generate program income that will be used to advance future community development projects in the city. Staff hopes to have a family placed in the home within one year of purchasing the property.

The Hound has no problem with uplifting these areas and can see the benefit of such a program, but let me ask about the priority. We've got this money to invest in this property, but we don't have a few thousand dollars for a video system to show how our government works? And to bring transparent government to the people? leaves one wondering about what some are trying to hide here, doesn't it?



*** Larry Pope asked to speak at the end of this meeting. Danny Seaver made the motion to allow Mr. Pope to speak, but it was not seconded.

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