I was like an alien dropped in from another planet last night at the Burlington City Council meeting. I've read about Burlington city business for years, know a bit about the three-way Progressive-Democratic-Republican tug-of-war that goes on, but there's nothing like seeing it in person.
With City Hall reporter John Briggs on vacation, I covered the special City Council meeting focused on Burlington Telecom finances. Fascinating labyrinth of a story, the Telecom issue. In a nutshell: they borrowed $17 million from the city over a longer period than their state license allows, and they didn't tell a whole lot of people about it very quickly.
All that is intrigue enough, but Tuesday night, city councilors had their chance to say their piece. Karen Paul was teleported in from Italy, following the meeting by video connection (via Burlington Telecom on this end) in the middle of the Italian night. Marrisa Caldwell was following by phone from home where she was under the weather. The rest of the 14-member council pitched in in person.
Here's an indication of how cohesive this bunch is - or not: When the clock crept toward 10:30 p.m. (that's 3.5 hours of meeting time), Councilor Ed Adrian pointed out that they were about to hit the time when their own rules require them to stop unless they vote to continue. (A fine, fine rule, I might point out). But they couldn't agree on whether to adjourn without a flurry of close votes, which were a tad hard to follow for the alien from the other planet. But then everybody got up to leave, so clearly the adjourners won.
Every entity has its own dynamics.
- Terri Hallenbeck
Labels: Burlington City Council, vermont politics