State of the City: Unchanged?

For the last three years, Iíve been covering Norwich City politics and watching all of the achievements that the city has made since I began working here.

There really have been some major accomplishments that have been made. The efforts of Jason Lawrence as Code Enforcement Officer has made the city a nicer place to live. Several of the generally dirty areas have been cleaned up, issues with multi-family dwellings are being addressed and you can see the difference.

Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo is working to reduce expenditures at the firehouse by consolidating vehicles and the station is opening its doors for more events.

Police Chief Joseph Angelino has drastically reduced overtime and has worked to keep the city safe while still keeping an eye on the departmentís budget, and Department of Public Works Superintendent Carl Ivarson is currently working on a huge repair project at the Waste Water Treatment Plant that will reduce the contaminants released into the environment and help the plant handle an increased future capacity.

The city has received grants and addressed issues and worked hard to keep tax increases to a minimum in economically difficult times.

The changes the city has seen have been substantial, but reading Mayor Joseph Maiuranoís State of the City address, you might not see all that.

I mean no disrespect to the mayor, who has also worked over the last three years to lead the council in an efficient manner, but when I read the 2009 State of the City address Monday, I couldnít help but notice something that wasnít quite right.

The report sounded familiar. So familiar that I fished out the last State of the City address (not a difficult task, since that report is still on the cityís web site). The last State of the City address was dated October 2007, and the two reports were virtually identical. I donít mean that they sounded the same or that they referred to the same issues Ė the two reports in most places were the same, word for word.

In the entire three-page report, only one paragraph had been added, and one paragraph was slightly altered, but the bulk of the content remained identical Ė including the quote from George Bernard Shaw that concluded the statement.

I know that running the city can be a tiring and sometimes thankless job, but if we fail to let people see the achievements that are really being made, is it any surprise that people think nothing is being done? I know better. I know how hard the department heads, the city employees and the mayor himself have been working to deal with the problems that need addressing in this city, but there are many who may not, and to them presenting the same address that was rolled out nearly two years ago is just going to prove that nothing has changed.

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