Despite the best efforts of one joker, the Gadsden city council managed to get a thing or two done on Tuesday.
I knew there would be trouble in the chamber when Council President Deverick Williams had his questioning about a run-down property interrupted.
“Brian, there was some discussion about whether or not this was rehab-able. Is there something we’re not seeing with the pictures?”
The city’s chief building officer started to respond. “We looked at all of them and, based on the tax appraisal–”
All of a sudden a newscaster’s distant voice crackled through the room.
“HERE ARE THE FOUR THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HURRICANE–”
Council Member Ben Reed leapt forward–or, more accurately, took his sweet time in reaching–to silence his cell phone.
President Williams froze. Then he turned back to the city employee. “I may need you to repeat that last part.”
The room broke down in laughter. “Sorry, it sounded like my voice changed there,” the man quipped in reply.
From here, the meeting segued nicely into a series of civic announcements.
“People think that First Friday ends in October, but let me stress to you: tell all your friends and your neighbors, we go until December,” the director of Downtown Gadsden pleaded to anyone within earshot. “We got the tractors this First Friday! Kings of Swing will be at Fourth and Broad. They’re always a big crowd favorite.”
But life in Gadsden isn’t all fun and games. Exhibit A: Mayor Sherman Guyton’s full-frontal attack on childhood lackadaisy:
“When kids get home, if they get past seven, eight years old and they can’t read and understand what they read, they start going downhill. They need to do a lot of homework and study when they get home. If they’re settin’ around the house, make ’em go to work.”
Then, at the end of the dais, it was Council Member Reed’s turn to speak. He brought up–what else–his outburst from earlier.
“I’m gonna apologize to the council and to the mayor for my phone going off,” he slowly drawled to chuckles. “But I’m gonna tell y’all–this is a fact–I put it on vibrate. I put it on mute. FYI, when you touch the Weather Channel, that baby’s comin’ on.” Yeah, likely story.
President Williams attempted to divert the council to a more serious matter. “October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Wear as much pink as you got. Some of us got more pink in our closet than others–” he said casually, glancing at Council Member Billy Billingsley.
Council Member Reed, the white-haired class clown, immediately pounced. “I wanna know about the pink clothes in Billy’s closet!”
After the snickers subsided, the council president patiently responded, “I didn’t say a word. I just looked that way.”
“Oh-kay,” Reed winked at the crowd.
Final thoughts: I give 10 out of 10 stars to Council Member Billy Billingsley. So what if the man has pink clothes? City councils could use more liberated males!