The walkway around the “Spirit of Rockville” fountain at the Red Brick Courthouse is undergoing a facelift, thanks to a recent commission from the Cultural Arts Commission. Artist Diedre Saunder and craftsman Peter Tabri are installing a huge mosaic carpet around the fountain. The colored tendrils are made of smalti (pieces of brightly colored glass) while the field is commercial floor tile broken into random pieces and set in a bed of latex adhesive. They’re about 75% finished and it’s slow back-breaking work, but portions are already grouted so you can get a sense of the final appearance. I expect it’ll be finished in July, but in the meantime, stop by and get a preview.
If this work looks familiar, Diedre and Peter also worked on the snake that envelopes the Elwood Smith Recreation Center as well as the entry wall at the Croydon Creek Nature Center.
Along with the City Council, the City of Rockville has 23 official boards and commissions to study, advise, and decide on a wide range of issues, from city planning to cultural arts, from human services to animal matters. In addition, there are at least ten other unofficial task forces or committees. All of these boards and commissions are composed of volunteers, usually residents (some include property or business owners who live elsewhere) and most members are nominated by the Mayor and appointed by City Council (a few have members elected in other ways, such as RSI).
Rockville has always encouraged and supported citizen involvement in its government, and used these board and commissions to keep the residents informed and part of the decision-making process. But how well informed are its citizens? All commission meetings are open to the public (I’m going to call them all “commissions” to keep things simple), but only three commissions–Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, and the Board of Appeals–have meetings that are regularly broadcast on Channel 11 and the City website (most likely because the City Council has granted them exclusive decision-making powers). For the other commissions, to find out what’s happening you have to attend the meeting, talk to one of the commissioners, or review the minutes. Obviously, the most convenient way is reviewing the minutes or notes of the meeting, so let’s see how we’ve done.
On January 20, 2012, I tallied the number of meetings and minutes posted on the City website for 2011 (cancelled meetings don’t count). By dividing the number of minutes by the number of meetings, I calculated a “public information score.” So if a commission had posted 9 minutes for 12 meetings, that would earn them a Minutes Score of 9/12 or 75%. The higher the score the better, and here’s how they fared: Continue reading →