Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Newburyport City Council Highlights August 12, 2013

This is a quick recap of the Newburyport City Council meeting from last night August 12, 2013.

Councillor Derrivan was absent.

Two people gave public comment-Paul Bertrand regarding his appointment to the Newburyport Trust Fund Commission and Roseanne Robillard regarding the St. Vincent Di Paul Walk for the Poor on September 28.

The consent agenda was approved by a 10 to 0 vote. This agenda included some routine transfers of funds from one account to another and a number of parties and events which were referred to committee or approved.

Two important new agreements were referred to committee: a municipal agreement for veterans services with Amesbury and other local communities and an intermunicipal agreement for animal control services with West Newbury.  The thought behind these changes is to get better services for Newburyport by pooling capacity, staff, revenue with other cities and towns.

In the regular agenda the WNBP radio annual Classic Car event on August 15 was approved.

The appointment of Harbormaster Paul Hogg to additional duties as Newburyport Shellfish Constable was tabled.  Because the State Division of Marine Fisheries will be opening 250 acres for shellfishing between Joppa Flats and Woodbridge island, a moderately contaminated location, the State wants to make sure that any harvesting is done properly and processed at the Shellfish Purification.  So the City needs to designate someone to oversee this.  There is a concern that the Harbormaster is busy with other duties.  Tabling means that the order will be reviewed again by the full Council at the next meeting, hopefully with more information, so a decision can be made.

Maurice Southworth was reappointed to the Fruit Street Local Historic District Study Committee.

Donna Scott was reappointed to the Committee for Diversity and Tolerance.

Jeanine Murphy was reappointed to the Atkinson Common Commission.

An order to amend Council rules regarding the mayor speaking at future Council meeting was referred to the Rules committee.  The new charter gives the Mayor the ability to speak before the Council subject to Council rules.

An order about “branding” of the city name was approved by a 7-3 vote.  The wording of the order reads:

That the City of Newburyport hereby refrain from allowing the use name “City of Newburyport” or any similar expression, term or name that may represent or appear to represent City of Newburyport approval, endorsement or support to plans, events, or organizations without the endorsement of the Newburyport City Council by majority vote.

I voted against this order.  The single instance of inappropriate use which was referenced during the ensuing discussion was that Union Studios, which is working on behalf of the NRA, used the city seal on its presentations on the waterfront.  Other hypothetical possibilities of inappropriate use such as a hotdog shop using the city seal were also mentioned during the discussion.

While I agree that the city seal and city "branding" should only be used for municipal purposes only, this order in my opinion is too broad and is in attempt to solve one minor problem with an unnecessary solution.  If the order had been simply to require that Union Studios not use the City seal on the NRA presentation, I’d have been fine with it.  Seven Councillors voted in favor and three voted in opposition including myself, Councillor Connell, and Councillor Heartquist

Further Council business included approving a handicapped spot on Boardman Street, and approval of various committee items including the passage of a resolution to the state legislature to combine the Water and Sewer Commissions into one Commission.  This had been reviewed by the Public Utilities committee a few weeks ago.

Thank you,
Ed Cameron

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