#73: Millbrae, CA 12/13/16

‘Twas the season of change at the Millbrae city council meeting. A time to remember the departed and toast to new beginnings.

While I was popping the Champagne at home, a string quartet was popping off the holiday classics in the meeting room–“Joy to the World” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Wow, live entertainment at a council meeting! What a refreshing change of pace!

That being said: once in 73 council meetings was enough. This isn’t “High School Orchestra Chronicles,” so I won’t review their performance. But let’s just say, I was very, very happy for this city council meeting to start.

“I’m very, very proud of these young people. They’re go-getters,” Council Member Wayne Lee rhapsodized. “Michael, I understand you’re going to Yale, which is exciting!”

The chamber roared for the violinist. One of the staff reached over and high fived him.

Boo yeah!

But as Michael moved on, another dear leader moved out.

“I want to share a short story,” smiled Mayor Anne Oliva, who in a few brief minutes would be relinquishing her gavel. “I did not get elected the first time around to our council. I missed it by 17 votes, and I was beaten out by Robert Gottschalk.”

Every head turned to Gottschalk, who was sitting stage right. J’Accuse!

“I ran with my father by my side, even knocking on doors every Sunday afternoon asking for support. When my father died a few months later,” the mayor gently winced, “I had no idea how much I would miss him. Especially when I was unable to share small victories, such as my next run for council–which I won.”

She bit her lip and tried not to tear up.  “I leave you in the hands of your new mayor, who I know will be a success. I wish my dad were here. But perhaps he’s looking down…Thank you all so very much.”

Everyone leapt up to give Her Honor the ol’ Hip-Hip-Hooray. Heir-to-the-throne Reuben Holober handed over a gift.

“This is amazing!” she exclaimed after pulling out a necklace. She fingered the trinket attached to it.

“It’s a gavel with a little A on it!”

The audience nodded approvingly.

She held out the necklace she was currently wearing. “When my dad ran for mayor, he gave this to my mother when he won.”

“Awwwwwww,” everyone murmured in unison.


The council unanimously elected Holober as the next head honcho. As Oliva and Holober stood to swap seats, Council Member Lee pumped the brakes.

“Whoa, whoa, you gotta take the oath! You don’t get the gavel till you take the oath!”

Mayor-elect Holober strode down to the podium. Lee, playing the role of red carpet commentator, announced who was doing the swearing-in.

“Reuben’s lucky fiancé!” he boomed as the two lovebirds raised their rights hands and sealed the deal.

“I do.”

Mayor Holober took his seat at the head of the dais. “Thirteen years ago, I entered this room to watch my mother take the oath of office as mayor. I never thought that one day, I would be sitting in this very chair.”

He stared at the room of supporters. “While my mother is no longer with us, I know that her passion for the city of Millbrae is alive in all of us.”

Ex-mayor Oliva led the standing ovation for him. While this is all very sweet, does anyone find it odd how Millbrae is killing so many city council members’ parents?

Final thoughts: First council meeting with a string quartet AND first council meeting with TWO MAYORS! 10 out of 10!


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