With eyes so steely they could’ve been smelted right here in Pittsburgh, city council president Bruce Kraus pounded his gavel from atop a kingly perch of wood, summoning the council members to feast upon the people’s business.
“Councilwoman Harris, we need you back in chambers please!” the bald-headed statesman pleaded, glancing at the long row of empty desks before him where a mere two council members sat.
The young Corey O’Connor rose first to offer a resolution declaring Friday “PACE Day,” whatever that is. Sirens blared by outside, leading the bespectacled and frat presidential-looking councilman to pause and joke, “it’s a busy day out there.” Were I present, I would have retorted, “It’s a busy day in here, too. Now get crackin’!”
The bearded Councilman Daniel Gilman next commended a group called the Snow Angels, which shovels snow for Pittsburghers. Also, he just said the inherently-funny word “Pittsburghers.” Are you thinking about a bunch of people walking around wearing giant sesame seed buns? I am. Gilman handed the commendation to one Snow Angel even more bearded than he. This hipster Paul Bunyan joked about moving from South Carolina to shovel snow, which got a big laugh. Are you taking notes, Councilman O’Connor?!
Council president Kraus opened the public comment period, giving concerned citizens three minutes to speak and vowing that “order will be maintained at all times.” There was little chance of a riot–the first testifier merely wanted to plug her new gospel song and the other speaker used the phrase “wind swirling snow crystals” while reading from his poetry.
Moving on to bills, Councilwoman Darlene Harris, having finally moseyed on in to the chambers, indicated she would be voting no on “the marijuana bill.” It’s a state and federal issue, she said and “I took an oath to uphold local, state, and federal law.” Councilman Ricky Burgess came back with “I do not in any way support the consumption of illegal drugs. The consumption of many legal drugs I do not support…I do not think people should drink alcohol.” Are these people trying to out-Puritan each other? Which council member is going to come out against pre-marital sex? Councilman O’Connor, I’m looking at you.
Councilman Burgess was wound up like a speeding freight train. Calling the effect of the drug war “worse than slavery,” he thundered that they hire white people in prisons “to make a living off of inner city black males.” He ended up voting yes on the “marijuana bill” and, like a true patriot, returned to fiddling with his cell phone.
After the drama subsided, Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith clutched her pearls and came out in favor of a year-round employment program for youths. Coincidentally, her teenage constituents came out with a consensus that “oh my god, we hate you, MOM.”
Council president Kraus closed out the meeting by requesting everyone come to tomorrow’s opioid addiction seminar for his big speech. He paused and stared at Councilwoman Harris, who was apparently causing some commotion.
“Is there something wrong, councilwoman?”
“No, Mr. President. Nothing at all,” she replied, sounding just a teensy bit sarcastic.
On a lighter note, for those of you not attending the opioid meeting, Councilman Gilman will be having a city vs. county free-shooting competition tomorrow also.
Final thoughts: coming in just shy of 90 minutes, with a relatively tame public comment period and good behavior by everyone except for troublemaker Darlene Harris, I give the Pittsburgh City Council meeting 7 out of 10 stars.