Monday, March 30, 2009

TON Community Development & Purchasing

The next section of the Annual Report describes the activities of the Community Development and Purchasing Department, a department that most people aren't even aware of. This department has two primary functions: dispersing money from the Community Development Block Grant, and purchasing office supplies and equipment for other departments. The Block Grant money actually supports a variety of projects in Normal: a short-term, intensive program at the local community college that prepares "non-traditional" students for employment (which has been very successful); employment for developmentally disabled adults; a center for children in one section of town to go to and participate in various programs that they would otherwise not have access to; downpayment assistance for low-income people who are buying a home in town; street resurfacing in areas with at least 51% low/moderate income households; and assistance for low-income people to prevent shut-off of utilities.

You would think that the purchasing function of this department wouldn't include anything worth noting, but I think it's interesting that this is the department that handles the annual auction of (old?) equipment and "found property." They auction off vehicles and lots of bicycles. I've never attended the auction so I don't know how many of those bikes are adult-sized, but it sounds like a great way to get a bike at a reduced cost.

There's a section at the end of this report about the farmer's market, the arts festival, and the sweet corn festival (quick, name any town in Illinois that doesn't have a sweet corn festival!). I think this department helps to promote these events.

There you have it. An unrecognized department that handles some important functions in Normal.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

TON City Clerk Report

The "Town of Normal 2008 Annual Report" is organized alphabetically by department, followed by boards, commissions, and committees, so the first section is about the "City Clerk." This is a brief report (compared to other sections) but two things stand out: the Office of the City Clerk handles a LOT of documents, and one of their major activities in 2008 was handling early voting. The amount of documentation provides a nice example of how even a small community is so bureaucratized: minutes of meetings, legal notices, licenses, registrations, and records, records, records. They also have to officially destroy records (I learned about records destruction in a previous job and it's very regimented; not just throwing away papers.)

The "summary of activities" shows that the City Clerk handled 1,642 "Freedom of Information" requests. (The yearly number of these requests looks to have remained fairly steady at just over 1,500 since 2004.) The activity that came in second-place was early voting, with 1,031 people voting early for the November election and 213 people voting early for the Spring election. The report includes pictures of people waiting in line for early voting. People in Normal do vote early (but hopefully, not often)!


I've heard about others who have blogged their thoughts and reactions as they read through a lengthy document and I thought that I would do the same. It should help motivate me to read the document and it might be of interest to others (although I realize that chances of that are slim). Thus, I begin my blogging as I read through the "Town of Normal 2008 Annual Report" (the "Normal" refers to Normal, Illinois). (I may add posts on other topics as they come up.)

Thanks for stopping by!