Impressions on the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress

Last night I attended my first meeting of the WNC. Because I had another commitment on Tuesday nights, I couldn’t attend any of the original steering committee meetings until tonight’s edition, which I believe was the fifth or sixth.

Tonight’s meeting started out on the topic of incorporation, with some of the twenty or so participants for it and more seemingly against it. Because they couldn’t reach a “consensus” one way or the other, the subject was tabled.

Or was it? Seems that the WNC has no by-laws to speak of yet. There were two competing sets of by-laws vying for acceptance. One of these apparently was brought up early on by Rocky Burnett, and is essentially based on those of a similar group in Greensboro, NC. The other was written more recently by Mike Pretl (former District 3 County Council candidate) and talks about distributive justice, incorporation as a 501.(c)(3), etc. etc.

To put it mildly, I was quite disappointed that the group had bogged down in such a way. First it was the diversity question and then this. (By the way, there were only 2 or 3 minority members in the room anyway, and Shanie Shields was a no-show as was Debbie Campbell.)

As I understood the purpose of the group, and the reason I volunteered to join, it was going to be a collection of people who were neighborhood advocates. They would get together on an occasional basis to exchange information and ideas regarding problems in their neighborhoods. For example, if my neighborhood has a problem with x, it’s quite possible that someone in Delmar has had that same problem and it was solved in a particular way. Conversely, if Sharptown’s person has a problem with y and my neighborhood figured out a solution, I could share that with him or her. If an elected official wanted to sit in and interact, it would be wonderful but not required.

I guess that if I had a magic wand and could turn back time to a period when this was being formed, I’d have suggested the following:

  • Adopt Greensboro’s by-laws essentially as written as a temporary set of by-laws, with the addition of adopting Robert’s Rules of Order as a method to run meetings.
  • Appoint a chair pro tem until formal election of officers (90 days).
  • Appoint five to seven people as a By-Laws Committee, to report back in 90 days with revised by-laws for the membership to vote on.
  • Figure out a place to meet every month, and start getting feedback from the citizens in each neighborhood.

Instead it appears that the WNC tries to reinvent the wheel every week. And I was told that this particular meeting actually got quite a bit done in comparison to the others, which scares me no end.

All I want is a time and place for those who are interested in the betterment of my adopted home county to meet. Is that too much to ask?

Because I can’t be at the next meeting, either, I’d love to have plenty of comments. I am on the e-mail list to receive the info, so this can be a forum to suggest improvements from some of my (growing!) readership. I’ll just make it into a nice bundle, add any other suggestions I think of in the interim, and ship it off. I know several of the people on the steering committee already (a benefit of having monoblogue, I must say) so what I say just might have a touch of weight. If not, at least I gave it an effort.

But I do hope we get this back in the right direction. I want a WNC that I can point with pride to and happily claim membership in as I attempt to build a neighborhood organization on the east edge of Salisbury.


Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

3 thoughts on “Impressions on the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress”

  1. Hopefully, now that Pretl and Maloney (Shanie’s kidekick) have turned this into a political agenda- driven circus, that informal neighborhood group (“SINA”) that kept the Dream Team from completely gutting the 4 to 2 law will get going again.

  2. Incorporation of this group has me baffled. Some said it is a veil of protection from being sued. What does this committee intend to do that they could possibly be sued? Applying for 501(c)3 status is another questionable act. Why do they need to raise money if everyone is a volunteer from their various areas of the county? It is quite possible I don’t have a view of the big picture, at this point, I don’t see the need to go to the expense of incorporation or spend the time to file for non profit tax status.

    Then there is the defining of “neighborhood” and “individual”. One gentleman hit the nail on the head when he asked how do you define rural neighborhoods that don’t have but a few houses in a several mile stretch? What if you are a farmer living on many many acres, the nearest house could be miles away, are they an individual or are they a neighborhood? It was suggested by Mr. Hooks that individuals be excluded. His reason was a consensus would never be reached. If the individuals are to be excluded from having a voice in whatever this project ends up being what is the purpose of the WNC? Having said his piece Mr Hooks of course did not want to argue, as he put it. It sounded to me like he didn’t want to hear anyone elses opinion on the subject.

    These folks have their work cut out for them, I don’t envy them a bit. The smartest thing I heard stated at that meeting was “Salisbury is in Wicomico County, Wicomico County is NOT Salisbury.” I hope these folks on the steering committee remember those words as they work to develop and establishing this Congress.

  3. Thanks for coming to the meeting and thanks for asking. What do they need the money for? No one is getting paid. Stamps, envelopes, paper, flyers, copies of agendas, documents, etc, placement of newspaper ads–these are minor things, but certain committee members pay for these things out of their own pockets.

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