If you didn’t have a big old smile on your face from 6:00 to 6:10 p.m., you must not have been watching the Hardeeville city council meeting.
“Dear Lord, please continue to guide this council,” Mayor Pro Tem David Spisso began conventionally enough, adding: “Please inspire the Apple Company to bring an Apple Store to Hardeeville. Amen,” he concluded, earning an amused glance from Council Member John Carroll.
An elderly man in a baseball cap quietly introduced himself. “My wife was well-known around here. Nobody hardly knows me,” he admitted humbly. “But she died last month.”
“My sympathies, sir,” Mayor Harry Williams replied.
“She was always complaining to me to come here and see you people. I hate to do this, but the neighbor we have refuses to take his garbage off the street. He leaves it there seven days a week.”
“We’ll have code enforcement take a look,” the city manager assured him.
While another citizen might have declared “Mission Accomplished” and returned to their seat, this sprightly nonagenarian had one other news bulletin for the crowd.
“I’ll tell you something else!” he waved his finger. “[My wife] talked me into getting in the bake-off contest this year. I got first place on the cake AND the pie! Ninety-one-year-old beatin’ out all of them women!”
Council members applauded wildly as onlookers cackled with well-intentioned laughter. The man gestured to the cacophony he had created.
“I’m going home!” he hollered.
As it turned out, he made the right choice.
Mayor Williams gave a slight frown as the Parks and Recreation director slid behind the microphone to discuss the troubled Hardeeville Recreation Complex turf project.
The director gestured to the screen. “We have a video here of the progress. It’s a minute long.” An excruciatingly slow slide show cycled silently.
“I’m on my edge of the seat. Is this really necessary?” the mayor heckled impatiently.
At last, stationary photographs of the field flashed onscreen. The director described the current situation: “The plan is to get that [soil] dried out so they can put down a geofiber fabric over the soil that is unsuitable.”
The mayor stared down at his paperwork and clenched his fist. “So we ALREADY added $4,900 to the original plan. Now we have ANOTHER $49,000. So we’re $53,000 over budget.”
“We’re still under budget for the project,” the director protested.
“No, we’re not,” the mayor shot back in his thick New Jersey accent. “Let’s make that clear.”
Throwing up both hands, he vented savagely. “I have a real problem. We’re coming back at the eleventh hour asking for another $50,000–which is ten percent over budget and six months late. I don’t find that to be an acceptable performance!”
Barely hiding his contempt for the contractor doing the turf work, Mayor Williams ticked off his complaints. “Didn’t get permits on time. At least a week late and counting. If they’re here,” he glared across the room, “NOT a good performance.”
Putting on his glasses and sighing, the mayor initiated a vote to approve the extra money.
“This is something I wanted in the city for a long time. I want it to be right,” Mayor Pro Tem Spisso announced, voting in favor.
With all other council members as a yes, the mayor voted his disgust. “I supported this. As a protest to the performance of the company, I’m gonna vote no.”
On that dour note, the matter was closed.