Ward 25 Alderwoman Ina Silverman opened Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting by reading quotations from Martin Luther King Jr. she deemed relevant to her fellow city legislators.
“Life’s most persisting and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” Silverman asked, quoting King.
Considering the pace at which the 15-minute meeting moved, it was hard to establish a concrete answer.
Commission assignments, an amendment on collective-bargaining negotiations and an amendment to expedite funding to New Haven’s empowerment zone were the highlights of the meeting’s agenda. Also approved during the quarter-hour session was a proposal to grant the New Haven Police Department the use of a bait car for combatting auto theft, which has been on the rise.
Commissions, which comprise both aldermen and members of the community, address issues that require active community input, such as cultural affairs, parks and food policy. At the meeting, the aldermen announced assignments to 23 commissions for one- or two-year terms.
Newly elected Ward 1 Alderwoman Rachel Plattus ’09 joined her first commission with Ward 26 Alderman Sergio Rodriguez — the city’s new Youth Commission.
In a lighter moment, Board President Carl Goldfield mistakenly called on Alderwoman — no, Alderman Sergio Rodriguez.
“You just looked so beautiful,” Goldfield quipped after realizing his mistake.
Rodriguez then introduced an amendment drafted by Silverman that extends the required advanced notice of collective-bargaining agreements for city labor contracts to seven months from the original six.
Silverman said the extra month would give the Board time to look at the agreements before actual negotiations begin. The Board unanimously approved the amendment.
Ward 4 Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks proposed an amendment to a resolution aimed at physically expanding the boundaries of the empowerment zone in New Haven by applying for approval to do so from the federal government. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development designates certain disadvantaged neighborhoods “empowerment zones,” in which businesses are eligible for large tax breaks.
Various aldermen said they worried certain areas — called census tracts — are not included in the New Haven’s empowerment zone.
“What [the amendment] will do is allow every census tract in New Haven that has eligible people in it to be a part of the empowerment zone,” Jackson-Brooks explained.
Congress is currently considering legislation on empowerment zones. Jackson-Brooks said her amendment will allow any changes implemented by Congress — if and when they are enacted — to benefit more of New Haven more quickly than if the city waited until after Congressional action to expand the zone. Jackson-Brooks said legislation enacted by Congress may include changes to income guidelines for the program.
The Board also authorized a proposal that would authorize Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to ask Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company to loan a car to the NHPD for baiting car thieves. Under the proposal, the city will take responsibility for any damages inflicted on the car and will have to return the car to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company once the NHPD is done with it.