Tragedy plus time equals comedy. But how much time is needed?
Well, if you’re the mayor of Maumelle–not a lot.
“I’ll need to let you know that Council Member [Rick] Anderson will not be here tonight. He is in the hospital,” Mayor Mike Watson blurted out at the top. Without missing a beat, he added dryly, “I think that’s a valid excuse. I don’t know if that’s what I’d pick for MY excuse. But he can do that.”
While my imagination wandered to what, exactly, the mayor might think up for his excuse, Council Member John Vaprezsan invoked Anderson’s name in the pre-meeting prayer. Pointing to the victims of wildfires, shootings, and hurricanes, he concluded ominously, “we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few minutes.”
With all this talk of death and infirmity, it was about time for some goods news. And it came from a surprising place: the bank account.
“Our financials look better this month. We’re right at budget,” an employee at the lectern gestured to a colorful graph on the wall. “The yellow is–okay, first of all….” She paused and was clearly battling mixed emotions about the yellow portion of the chart.
“I revised all these charts because somebody didn’t like the colors and I didn’t really like the colors either,” she vented to the council members, who squinted their eyes to better comprehend her predicament.
She inhaled and got back on track. “As you can see, we’ve got $5.5 million [cash on hand], so we’re well covered.”
The mayor abruptly swiveled in his chair and reached down for a few well-covered things of his own.
“We’ve got the budgets here.” He lifted a stack of binders, sliding them down the dais. “Take the one that’s got your name on it. Don’t take somebody else’s just to be ornery,” he scolded preemptively.
“I was still making changes after lunch today.” He let out an exhausted chuckle. “It’s not an excuse, but I’ve looked at it so much, it’s hard to catch mistakes in it now.”
Mayor, if you need someone to proofread the budget–and clandestinely add some puns and emoji–send it to me. My fee is a tiny $5.5 million in cash on hand.
Council Member Steve Mosley leaned forward like an intrigued professor who just thought of a reason to reference some fascinating new research. “I don’t know how many folks saw–this doesn’t have anything to do with us.”
He opened a newspaper. “It talks about Farmington, Arkansas. They recently found that they had some embezzlement going on for $1.5 million over seven years. He was basically taking money home. All they noticed was that traffic ticket revenue had gone down.”
He folded the paper and let the damning accusation settle in.
“Things can happen. So everybody has to stay alert.”
Not to be outdone in the field of literacy, Council Member Vaprezsan gestured to his own magazine.
“I got the City & Town. If you haven’t had the chance to look at it, it’s pretty neat.” Not at all subtly, Council Member Jess Holt reached across and snatched the publication.
“Council Member Holt’s picture is ALSO in the magazine,” noted Vaprezsan as Holt flipped through it with fixation.
“So is Council Member [G.K.] Timmons and City Clerk Tina Timmons!” exclaimed Holt.
Whew! Maumelle made the news without a scandal.