Sometimes it feels like everyone’s a critic. But in the Scranton council chamber, literally everyone who showed up had some beef with the five councilmen.
“I actually have to grab the speaker list,” Council President Pat Rogan admitted with a sly grin, excusing himself from the dais while a dozen pairs of eyes followed him out of the room.
Sitting down with the paper, he brandished it with feigned surprise. “So there’s nobody on the speaker list–” Rogan deadpanned before calling up the first in a series of aggrieved complainants.
“Comcast, okay? They are a monopoly. In the United States of America, a monopoly is illegal,” ranted a man in a black “Brooklyn” baseball cap and thick New York accent.
“They don’t want to give a senior citizen’s discount! I come from New York City, okay? Five boroughs–not anywhere in the five boroughs will you find that they will not recognize what senior citizens have done for this country,” he pounded on the lectern. “I have five major credit cards! I have seven different department stores!”
He waved his arms. “How can any one of youse here allow this to happen?”
“We don’t set the rates for Comcast,” President Rogan responded plainly. “Comcast is a private corporation.”
The commenter was replaced by another middle aged man with a pair of reading glasses on his nose and sunglasses on his forehead. He emitted a deafening sigh into the microphone.
“I don’t even have a computer and I apparently know more about what’s going on in the city than you five, the mayor’s two hacks, and the mayor.”
Okay, let me stop you there. In the interest of time, let me annotate this testosterone-fueled grudge-fest to just the most cantankerous of grief mongering. The three wordsmiths here are:
-A strident elderly man in a yellow Polo (Y)
-An affable college student with half a mohawk (M)
-A woman with pinkish curly hair (C)
Ready? And go:
Y: You’re an elected official and the forum here is for the issue of debate. And if you can’t answer, then I ask you to resign.
M: The reason that people my age leave this area is because we don’t have faith in you guys.
C: Mr. Donahue, when speakers are up here, you have your head down and you are writing what they are saying? You could look on YouTube.
Y: You are a liar and should have resigned and maybe there’s litigation that will remove you.
M: Two of you keep looking down–aren’t even looking at me.
C: When speakers are speaking, you should–okay, you’re shaking your head.
Y: When I brought up the word “despicable” last week, it was mild terminology for what’s going on here. I’d like to put it in real words, but I might burn this microphone.
C: I’m disappointed. I voted for you.
M: This city council has lacked the competence needed to bring Scranton back on the map like it used to be. (A siren goes by in the background, as if on cue.)
As yellow-Polo-shirt man walked away from the microphone bellowing for Council Member William Gaughan to “resign, you don’t belong here,” Mr. Brooklyn Hat began yelling from the gallery. That, in turn, prompted others to start yelling.
“You’re both out of order!” pleaded President Rogan.
“This is a sideshow,” murmured the next commenter at the mic.
It was. Although I sense it’s also a regular Monday night in Scranton.