Major–MAJOR–bombshell at the Hampton city council meeting.
“Before we begin, I’d like to deviate from our normal agenda,” Mayor Donnie Tuck abruptly announced. “Vice Mayor, would you please read?”
“A motion to deviate from the order of business to evaluate the benefits of moving the public comment,” read Vice Mayor Linda Curtis from her notes.
Move the public comment? To where, North Carolina?! Please explain, Your Honor!
“We’ve looked at how we’ve done our public comment section in the past. There’s been a time when it was before the meeting started, then it was moved to the end of the meeting.” The mayor folded his hands.
“What we’ve decided to do was to move it to a point in our meeting where we have our public hearings–following THAT we will have public comments.”
This is madness. Insanity. I’ve never felt more scared…AND MORE ALIVE.
Now the fun part: “Would the representatives of the Bay River Rumble 12-and-Under Grey Softball Team please come forward?” the mayor asked as the young athletes marched down the aisle.
“These ladies recently returned from Buffalo, where they won the NSA World Series Championship for girls fast-pitch softball.” He grinned from ear to ear. “We have some backpacks for you.”
After passing out the souvenirs, the mayor again broke into a smile so contagious that Olympic athletes aren’t allowed near it. “I hope my fellow council members will pardon my exuberance but I invited another group to come down”–a summer camp for English language learners.
“We had a wonderful time,” the camp’s director told the council, surrounded by her campers. “Mayor Tuck, I just want to thank you again for inviting us–” she looked to the dais, but His Honor was already sneaking up behind her. “Here you are!” she laughed as he ambushed them with more gift bags.
Finally, time for high-risk, high-reward: public comment…IN THE MIDDLE.
Guinea pig #1 was an older man who slid on his glasses and opened a red folder. “I wanna congratulate Mayor Tuck on his sex–successful election,” the commenter complimented the new mayor–and the mayor’s wife, apparently.
He took aim at, surprisingly, the public comment period itself. “I feel speakers should be heard at the beginning of the meeting. Also, they should be allowed five minutes to speak because at times you have got more to say and three minutes is not enough.” Ironically, this was not one of those times–he finished in well under three minutes.
Next up was a beefy guy who skipped congratulating the mayor for his sex and went for the jugular. “I’m in agreement with the public comments back to the beginning and I’ll tell you why. You got families with kids, you got elderly people, and you have handicapped people. To put them through two or three hours to save them for the end is just wrong. It’s ‘we the people,’ not ‘we the Hampton city council.'”
(It’s true. I’ve read the Constitution and nowhere does it mention the Hampton city council.)
This Sage of Southeast Virginia left the council with a final deep thought: “the bricks out front, you need to regrout ’em.”
Final thoughts: I give 10 out of 10 stars to anybody who pays attention to the grout at their city hall.