To keep you engaged while saving you time, I Vote Madison is now bringing you some of the highlights from City Council meetings. The videos displayed below each recap highlight will take you to the exact moment where the topic listed is discussed.
1. Calls for more transparency and accessibility
I Vote Madison and citizens called on City Council to provide more transparency and accessibility.
Here is I Vote Madison’s written statement:
(note that we can’t always fit our written statements into the 3-minute comment period and spoken comments can sometimes stray from written statements)
We thank you for now recording and archiving regular city council meetings and planning meetings, but more work toward accessibility and transparency is needed. We will focus on work sessions tonight.
The lack of transparency with work sessions, especially as it pertains to the Board of Education appointment and what occurred on September 7th as described by a resident already, and the lack of work sessions being held in general is concerning.
If the citizen in attendance on Sept. 7 had not been told definitively that Council would not return after that executive session, I Vote Madison would have a recording of the BOE discussion and would have shared it with Madison residents.
We think this is a serious blow to transparency.
At the very least, it gives the appearance of Council trying to hide things from citizens. Council knew citizens wanted to be privy to the process, policies, and actions of their representatives related to the school board appointment, but you chose, voted on, having that discussion without any citizen present and without any documentation save for a line in the minutes stating that the appointment was discussed.
The small amount of work sessions this year is a cause of concern for citizens. September 7th was the first work session since March. There were 9 work sessions by this time last year.
Business is undoubtedly happening, so with so few work sessions, it's natural for citizens to ask when and where discussions about city business are being discussed, but also who is having them
Last week citizens were only given a little more than 24 hours' notice of a work session. From our understanding, the city legally only has to make the announcement 24 hours in advance, but we assume this wasn’t a work session that was planned last minute because it deals with big changes and tens of millions of dollars. And more than one guest speaker was present. Again, appearances. We request that the city makes an effort to alert citizens sooner. The meeting can simply be canceled if a guest speaker can’t be present, for example. Citizens are interested. I Vote Madison’s recording of that meeting has 100 views.
Tonight you have the opportunity to vote on whether to release the city’s video of that last work session to the public. We request that you make it available for citizens and archive it for at least 4 years. We request again that the city livestream, record, and archive all work sessions. When the city can pick and choose which work sessions citizens have access to, there is once again the appearance of hiding information. And a vote requires citizens to wait almost a week before accessing the information from work sessions. We are filling that gap for residents now, but we want you to value accessibility and transparency as well.
Microphone use was also addressed. I Vote Madison noted that Council has made them more available but said that speakers need to be reminded to use them.
First citizen's public comments:
Second citizen's public comments:
Third citizen's public comments:
I Vote Madison's comments:
2. Mayor Finley asks Madison citizens to vote "yes" on Amendment 1
During his comment period at the City Council meeting, Mayor Finley asked citizens to vote "yes" on Amendment 1 (Aniah's Law) on November 8, 2022. He met with the other Alabama Big 10 Mayors recently, and they are collectively asking Alabama citizens to vote "yes." View the text of Amendment 1 and the other 9 amendments that will be on the November 8 ballot here.
In the news:
3. Publix annexation and Town Madison infrastructure
Council had the first reading of two legal items:
The possible annexation of Clift Farms Publix into Madison City
The possible ratification of the funding agreement for the infrastructure of Town Madison, specifically as it pertains to the funding of a flyover (overpass) into Town Madison from I565 West.
Both of these legal resolutions will have a second reading and be voted on during the November 14 City Council meeting.
At the work session on October 19, 2022, discussions took place about how the tax revenue from the Clift Farm Publix could be used to help fund the flyover into Town Madison from I 565 West. Publix is the only business at Clift Farm that would be annexed into the city of Madison.
The developer of Town Madison, Breland, is no longer going to fund infrastructure, including the overpass into Town Madison from I 565 West. Citizens have expressed concern over the added debt and questioned whether the overpass is needed considering traffic flow at the Trash Pandas games has gone smoothly.
In The News:
4. Bouldering at Rainbow Mountain
City Council approved a partnership between the city and Southeastern Climbers Coalition so that bouldering/rock climbing can be managed at Rainbow Mountain. The “no rock climbing” signs will come down and the city and Southeastern Climbers Coalition will work together to maintain trails, climbing areas, and safety.
5. Playground Updates
Parks and Recreation has allocated a little over $300K for playground updates. They allocated a similar amount during the last fiscal year to upgrade local parks. Council approved plans to add a playground to the Palmer Park extension. It will have an inclusive/accessible surface. Two small parks will receive upgrades, including new playground equipment: Hardiman Place and Silver Creek.
Signs in Roundabouts
District 1 Councilperson Wroblewski asked that citizens not place signs inside roundabouts, saying they are a driving distraction. View her comments here.
Madison’s American Rescue Plan Money
Madison received a little over 5 Million dollars from the American Rescue Plan. Council Representative Bartlett said at the finance committee meeting that Chief Bailey and Chief Gandy discussed a need for a fire and police substation on the south side of I565. The reason they gave for needing a fire station and police substation out there was to improve response times. The growing Town Madison area plans to make Town Madison an Entertainment District so the fire station would need to be big enough to hold three bays and a second ladder truck according to Chief Bailey and Chief Gandy. They stated that a substation for police would have Madison’s officers on bikes in the Town Madison area. The finance committee plans to have a resolution for the Council to consider during the November 14th meeting. View her comments here.
I Vote Madison is concerned about the lack of outreach to the residents of Madison when determining how to spend these funds. Many cities around the country have taken a much more inclusive approach to this process through surveys, town hall meetings, etc. We understand that residents may contact their council representatives with ideas, but we think soliciting ideas and feedback from citizens should be a key part of this process.