#69: Laurel, MD 11/28/16

It’s the holiday season, so you know what that means: the eggnog is flowing, the mistletoe is hanging, and city council members are bragging about how THEIR winter festivities are the best thing since sliced gingerbread.

“I’d like to welcome everyone back from the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope it was a healthy one,” Councilmember Frederick Smalls warmly greeted the room. “I will say, however, that I did try a new recipe. It’s Brussels sprouts with Gruyère cheese.”

He added a lackluster, “Mmmm,” as he glanced sideways down the dais.

Councilmember Donna Crary picked up on the signal.

“I will disagree,” she pursed her lips, “with Mr. Smalls. That Brussels sprouts recipe was given to me at the same time. It’s not healthy.” Councilmember Smalls loudly guffawed as the sign language interpreter mimed laughter.

“Do you know what’s healthy? That weak-ass tea you’re serving.”

But enough about Thanksgiving. It’s almost Christmas! Your Honor, when will we all get to meet Santa?!

“On December the 10th at 9 a.m. sharp, Partnership Hall will be holding the Breakfast with Santa,” Mayor Craig Moe read from his notes in a non-festive monotone. “Any tickets left?”

“Sold out!” someone yelled from the audience.

Mayor Moe looked into the camera–right into my disappointed eye holes. “Cancel that. We’re sold out.”

Whatever. I’m not disappointed. I’m not crying. These tears are just me being allergic to PEOPLE WHO GET MY HOPES UP.

“The holiday decorating contest will take place as well,” the mayor tried to reassure me. “If you’d like to nominate somebody or yourself, you can dial 301-725-7800. Or you can let my office know. We encourage you to get your decorations up and submit your nominations.”

Hey, mayor: stay in your lane. Laurelites, if YOU have a nomination for best holiday decoration, send it to City Council Chronicles. I’LL be the arbiter of taste around here.

This is my nomination for deadliest stare.

That wraps up the yuletide news: it was time to do the People’s Business. “Ordinance number 1894,” announced Council President Michael Leszcz. “An ordinance amending the Laurel city code Chapter 17, ‘Traffic,’ Article III: ‘Stopping, standing, and parking.'”

He looked to either side. “Any discussion?” Nope. “Call the roll.”

As the clerk went down the list, something bizarre unfolded. Mayor Moe leaned back in his chair and caught the eye of Councilmember H. Edward Ricks at the far end of the dais.

NO. VOTE NO, mouthed the mayor.

All of the other council members were glancing at their papers, completely unaware of this not-so-secret communication.

“Mr. Ricks?” the clerk called out.

Ricks gave a pause. “Yes,” he slowly said, sounding beleaguered.

The mayor stared daggers at Ricks.

How is she going to translate this?

“Mayor Moe?” the clerk said.

He did not respond. Council Member Ricks stonily eyeballed the mayor. The pause was so pregnant, some of the other council members stopped shuffling their papers and glanced at Moe.

“Concur,” muttered the mayor at last.

“That concludes the normal agenda,” President Leszcz continued, blissfully clueless about what transpired.

At this point, His Honor broke into a grin and chuckled. I have no idea if this was a playful joke or if the mayor was genuinely pissed. He’s a more wily character than I gave him credit for.

All I know is this: Santa better watch his back in Laurel.


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