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North Country News

Plattsburgh Common Council Approves New IT Contract And Hears More Comment On Zoning Decision

Plattsburgh City Hall (file)
Pat Bradley/WAMC
/
Plattsburgh City Hall (file)

The Plattsburgh Common Council had a number of resolutions on its agenda and worked through them quickly during their biweekly meeting Thursday evening.
Some of the resolutions pertained to regular business items such as approving weekly payment of bills and payroll.
Only one person spoke during public comment.  Plattsburgh Zoning Board Chair Ron Nolland followed up on comments he made during the last council meeting to criticize the method by which public comment is conducted.  “When a member of the public speaks either during a public hearing or a public comment period the councilors are allowed to respond but then the public cannot respond back. So what I’m really trying to do is ah, you know the councilors sort of get the last word, and the only way for me to create a dialogue is to come back to the next public comment period and continue the conversation.”

Nolland reiterated his concerns about the council’s refusal to appoint a new zoning board member.  “The original resolution to appoint was sent to the Public Safety Committee. There is no public record of that meeting and if the meeting information was available the public might have had an inkling as to why the committee rejected an excellent candidate.  I am told the decision was made by an email poll of the councilors who were unanimously opposed the forwarding of the appointment to the entire council. Although I have been assured that this polling meets the Open Meeting Law requirements the secretive nature of the vote makes it at least difficult for the public to even know the existence of matters that are decided this way if not approved. And despite the councilors statement to the contrary at the last meeting councilors should be required to provide the reasons they vote to approve or oppose a public issue.”

There were two resolutions related to the city’s IT management contract. One allows the mayor to sign a contract with ClearGov and the other authorizes a $9,000 payment for the data processing services. Ward One Independent Jamie Canales was enthusiastic about the city’s contract.  “I thought this is one of the most robust systems that any government agency could possibly acquire. I’m excited for us to have this.”
Councilor Gibbs: “Yes I agree with Councilor Canales. I’m looking forward to the implementation of this and accessing it and having information available to the public to view as well. So I think this will be a really good move for us.”

But Ward Two Democrat Mike Kelly disagreed with Canales and fellow Democrat Elizabeth Gibbs of Ward Three.  He cast the only no vote on both resolutions. Kelly says the city is repeating a mistake.  “The city a few years ago invested in a program called OpenGov and as it turned out it was never properly implemented and wasn’t maintained over any length of time. So now OpenGov is useless. This time I can’t make the same mistake. I can’t say that ClearGov’s going to work any better for the city than OpenGov. Because they both require a lot of input and unless that is done, unless the numbers are taken from the budget system that we have then ClearGov’s going to no more useful than OpenGov was.”

Kelly is a retired software engineer.  “To me the old expression throwing good money after bad comes to mind here because there hasn’t been anything done to prevent the same problems with OpenGov that we will have with ClearGov. I think the smarter thing to have done would have been to see if we could resurrect OpenGov and get it to work for us. But we didn’t go that path.”

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