One hot topic was the parking lot in front of the Ocean Club and Dockside restaurants on the harbor. I came a little late to the meeting but it looks like the police department will begin enforcing a two hour parking limit for about 30 spaces. I have some advice for everybody:
- Don't park there if you're a commuter as you'll get a ticket or get towed.
- Make the fine substantial because most of the people riding the boat would gladly pay a fine or have their butler pick up the car from the towing company if it's the difference between missing the boat and making thier bling on Wall Street that day.
The Harbor Commission was under fire on few topics. The first was the allocation of thier budget. Apparently the Commission keeps a line item for miscellaneous. Understandable. But $186,000? That's a whole lot of miscellany. The Finance Committee is trying to get the Commission to more accurately define what short and long-term capital improvements are necessary and to budget accordingly. I think this is a reasonable request as $186,000 hanging out for "I dunno" is not adequate fiscal management.
The topic was also raised about the Harbor Commission's "mission." Does it have a "mission statement," what are its long-term goals, how does it support the overall town vision and master plan, what kind of metrics can be designed to measure the success or failure of its goals and objectives? Pretty valid points in my opinion. People in town and at Council meetings talk about the Harbor Commission like it's some separate entity to the town government. The harbor is the town's single greatest assest - besides all the charming characters and the fantastic tequila selection at Copper Canyon - and needs to be run efficiently to provide maximum benefits to taxpayers. Transparency is the name of the game these days. Tossing $186,000 into a slush fund for whatever doesn't cut it.
A comment was made that the Harbor Commission does have a "substantial mission statement," which was written in 1947 by the Lion's Club. I may try to look this up via the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society but regardless, an updated mission and long-term strategic plan need to be put together and the Commission, as well as the Council, need to be held accountable for achieving the goals laid out.
A great idea was presented by the publisher of the Atlantic Highlands Herald, Allan Dean. Mr. Dean suggested that when the town re-enters negotiations with Comcast to, I guess renew its monopoly, that we request some dedicated time on one of the local cable channels to broadcast council meetings and other events in town. Mr. Dean also suggested that students from Henry Hudson Regional High School tape and edit the meetings for broadcast. I say do it and make Comcast donate the equipment. I guess I'd feel a little better paying my outrageous cable and Internet bills each month if I knew some local kids were getting a chance to explore communications technology, media, production, etc. and build real experience for college applications and jobs. Plus, this way I could watch the Council meetings from the comfort of my Lay-Z-Boy with my popcorn and cold brewskis. I could even tape, or better yet TiVo them for posterity. You never know when there's going to be a wardrobe malfunction at a Council meeting.
Something that may have been addressed but I missed was the absence of the Borough Attorney Janice Miller. There was another lawyer from her firm at the meeting and he said something to the effect that he "would bring the concerns re: Mrs. Miller to his office on Monday." Specifically he cited the concerns of Councilman Fligor, Councilwoman Spatola and Councilman Archibald. Developing.
Speaking of Councilman Fligor, I had an opportunity to meet him last night. I've been impressed with his knowledge of seemingly every issue brought up at Council meetings, especially the ones when you have to roll up your sleeves and really dig in to figure it out, i.e. the kind of things I like to avoid. In fact, we've introduced a new verb in my household - "Honey, the shower is leaking again and the bills are due, go Fligor it out." There's definitely a campaign slogan in there Councilman.
And lastly, everyone, please help me in welcoming to the AH Herald, The Beer Man! Mmmm....beer.