I wish I could say the Baltimore city council meeting was all lollipops and kittens. But it wasn’t. Oh, no–it wasn’t at all. Maybe there’s a bug going around, because some council members contracted a case of butthurt.
Right out of the gate, people were peeved: the mayor vetoed the council’s two charter amendments that would have curbed her power. Now, some council members wanted to give Her Honor the collective middle finger.
To bypass the veto, almost every single person would need to vote yes. Would they stick together?
Yes…yes…no…yes…no…the clerk went down the list.
It failed, 9-5. Round 1: the mayor.
They moved on to the second amendment. Midway through the roll call, Councilman Pete Welch stood up. “On the last vote, can I change my vote?”
“I think you can,” Council President Jack Young started, but was drowned out by murmurs from the council members. “Only by unanimous consent,” he corrected himself. They would take care of him after the vote.
Final tally: 8-5. Match: the mayor.
Back to Councilman Welch: “Do all council members agree that he can change his vote?” the president asked. Titters of objection percolated on the floor. “Remember, when you all wanna change your vote, it comes back to haunt you,” the president warned, growing visibly irked.
The clerk called out Councilman Brandon Scott. “Are we voting to allow Councilman Welch to change his vote?” Scott asked peevishly.
“Yes,” President Young responded.
Scott leaned waaaaaaay back in his chair. “No.”
Someone chuckled. Others rolled their eyes.
“You can’t change your vote. It’s not unanimous,” the president shrugged at Welch. A devilish smirk crossed his lips. “So just remember that.”
He had a few choice words for the people who took the mayor’s side earlier. “We holler we’re a democratic society and we want our constituents to voice their opinion, and yet the council says no,” he ranted, while the clerk standing next to him put on a solid poker face. “This is not about the council president. I think we have failed the citizens tonight. We just laid down on this one.”
Councilwoman Rikki Spector rose for a rebuttal. “I understand your frustration–”
“I’m not frustrated,” the president snapped, not hiding his frustration AT ALL.
Councilwoman Spector reminded him that she also wanted a charter amendment once, but the council voted her down. “It would have been an opportunity also for this democratic process to work. I understand why you’re frustrated,” she said, adding sarcastically, “well, you’re not frustrated, are you?”
Picking up his mic, Councilman Bill Henry gestured to the back of the room. “We have some guests in the audience today. We have fourth and fifth graders.” Jesus, why would you invite children to watch council members be catty to each other? Is this the Real Housewives School of Too Much Drama?
“Now I get to go in there and explain any questions they might have,” Councilman Henry chuckled, with a hint of regret. Question 1: “Why did that guy yell for five minutes if he wasn’t frustrated? Does he know what ‘frustrated’ means?”
Final thoughts: I think the lesson here is, it’s good to be mayor! You really get to push the council’s buttons, and you don’t have to be in the room with them! I give this meeting 2 out of 2 vetoes.