It’s a Thursday like almost any other. I get out of bed, begin brewing my morning coffee, review my long list of enemies (both current, soon-to-be, and undecided), and look forward to an otherwise pleasant day ahead. But I’m unable to sit easily, for I know what’s to come. While the day may be fine, an evening of displeasure is sure to be had. What sets this Thursday aside from every other is what happens at 5 o’clock.
City of Ely Council Meetings, as we all know, occur every two weeks at 5 o’clock on Thursdays. For the uninitiated, these meetings are… how do we say… boring as hell. I honestly can’t tell you why I still go to them. Gets me out of the house, at least.
As 5pm draws closer, I take my time getting there. I personally don’t believe in punctuality. Punctuality, to me, is a major red flag. Only psychos are punctual.
Consider: A person on time is a person with nowhere better to be. A person with nowhere better to be is clearly not wanted anywhere else. And how can I trust someone who’s not wanted anywhere else? Furthermore, if you’re not wanted, then why are you here? I probably don’t want you either, and being on time only means I’ll have to see you more. And God help me if you’re early! I digress…
I finally arrive at the Ely Volunteer Fire Hall, where all City Council Meetings are held. To my surprise, there’s more than a litter of cars outside. There’s actually a bunch, maybe even more than that! I counted like… maybe seven? Heck, there could have been 30. I’ve never been good at estimation.
But I am good at assumption. And I assume there’s only one reason why so many citizens would show up at a City Council Meeting: they want their voices heard, they want their voices represented, and there is likely a specific issue they are either for or against.
I’m unaware of what the issue is, of course. I never look at the agendas beforehand. Life is a game, and I enjoy mystery.
Once inside, I look around. The Hall is most certainly packed, as a sea of people is already crammed in. I’m quickly swallowed by the waves and am now somewhere drowning in the middle. Years and years of city debate, and not once has someone solved the issue of what we do when the Fire Hall becomes too small of a location. There’s a new courthouse and parks pop up all the damn time, but we’re reduced to standing with barely enough space for George and his camera. Again, I digress…
As Mayor Robertson is about to call the meeting to order, he’s interrupted.
“Miner’s Special? I have an order for an Extra-Large Miner’s Special?”
I attempt to turn towards the door. I see some sore-faced young man from Hometown Pizza has entered the room. This shoulder-to-shoulder environment is apparently quite appetite inducing. Someone had made an order, expecting that the meeting would go late. Unfortunately for this pizzeria delivery boy, he too is swallowed by the crowd upon entrance. He is now a part of this meeting whether he likes it or not.
Mayor Robertson opens his mouth in another attempt to call the meeting to order but is once again cut short. This time, it’s by Council Member Alworth.
“Before we get started, against the advice of legal counsel, there’s something I’d like to say. First of all, I’m always very punctual…”
After the start of his statement, I tune out for the rest of his speech. I’ve learned from hard experience that any sentence which begins with “against the advice of legal counsel” warrants no further listening. I treat it much like I do any song featuring Pitbull. As soon as I hear “Mr. Worldwide” shouted, the song is dead to me.
I must be very good at tuning things out. I don’t mentally come back to the meeting until much later into the agenda. Maybe it was Jim, maybe it’s the lack of oxygen in this room due to the amount of people, maybe it’s Maybelline. All I know is I’m only now checking back into the evening and it’s in the midst of the council voting. I’m not sure what’s going on, but the room feels tense.
I seem to remember some passionate arguments made during public comment about an agenda item, which appears to be the one they’re voting on right now. Frankly, it looks like everyone in this room has been here before and is none too amused that they’re back.
Council Member Williams-Harper definitely looks like she’s having a difficult time.
Sure enough, she says, “I just don’t know… How about you? Can you vote on this issue for me?”
She gestures at the Hometown Pizza boy. He’s quite perplexed, for multiple reasons. He wants to know why the City Council Member wants him to vote instead of her, he wants to know where his car keys have gone, and he really wants to know where the pizza he came in with went.
Following an awkward pause, Mayor Robertson briskly reminds Council Member Williams-Harper of her duty by saying, “No Jerri-Lynn, Hometown Pizza employees are not voting members, you’ll have to vote yourself. No, I can’t vote for you either.”
I don’t know how much more of this I can take. It’s time for me to leave.
By some miracle, I squeeze out of the Volunteer Fire Hall onto the street. For some reason, I feel quite exhilarated by how this whole evening has gone.
I’m suddenly reminded of why I continue to go to City Council Meetings: I don’t have a TV. And with a City Council such as this, I’m not sure I’ll ever need one.
In one hand, I have an Extra-Large Miner’s Special pizza. Must be my lucky day, I didn’t even make an order. With my other hand, I open the door to my new (slightly used) automobile. Interestingly, this car has a yellow triangle sign on the top, almost like a taxi. Well, at least I’ll know which car is mine!