The theme of this week’s Corpus Christi council meeting was simple. Straightforward. Short enough to fit on a baseball cap.
Make Corpus Christi Clean Again.
“All right, it’s party time!” Mayor Joe McComb murmured excitedly, cradling a handful of honorary proclamations. Most of them were “feel-goods,” celebrating Juneteenth and women veterans. But the mayor frowned after scanning the page marked “National Garbage Worker Week.”
“We oughta quit trashing our city,” he blurted out unprompted. “Put a bag in your car and put your trash in there and empty it when you go to the gas station.”
As the sanitation workers filed down to the front for a group photo, the mayor was rolling with the cadence of a Baptist preacher. “These people do a great job, but there’s a whole lot more of us than there are of them. So you can figure if we’re in a battle, we’re gonna win if we wanna be trashy. And we don’t need to be trashy.”
After the photo op, the applause, and the obligatory handshaking, Mayor McComb again grabbed the mic, worried that he hadn’t sufficiently put the fear of god in the viewing audience.
“I wasn’t being facetious when I was making my comments about the citizens need to not trash the place,” he yelled slightly above the din.
“Let me just ask you: when you go to a city and it’s nice and clean and looking good,” he began riffing as if he were the first person to put forth the proposition that garbage is bad, “you say, ‘man, that’s a pretty nice, clean city. I wouldn’t mind living or working here.’ We want that to be the reputation of Corpus Christi.”
Having littered the meeting with his anti-litter propaganda, the mayor opened public comment, with the disclaimer that “we’re here to listen. We can’t respond.”
The policy was unfortunate, because he almost certainly would have had something to say about the woman who sauntered up to the dais, dropped her purse on the lectern, and immediately produced from it a plastic bag.
“I would like to present to you something that belongs more to you than to us,” she announced indignantly, handing off the bag to the city manager.
“I hope you feel the same repulsiveness that we feel,” she glowered. “Those are roaches.”
If council members felt any repulsion, they legally couldn’t show it. The commenter barreled ahead.
“You are forcing us to live with this nuisance! Why are you imposing roaches and rodents on the neighbors of Ocean Drive?” she cried out, her voice rising as she railed against the dozens of new palm trees and their creepy-crawly inhabitants.
“Why do you wanna have Corpus Christi full of roaches? You cannot sit outside at night because you have all those roaches coming onto you. Please help us!”
After everyone had spoken, Mayor McComb could no longer contain his irritation.
“There were just misstatement after misstatement after misstatement,” he grumbled. “There ought to be something in there that we’ve got a correction statement period after the public comments. It’s a privilege, not an obligation that we have public comment.”
Although this fresh outrage didn’t appear to be cockroach-specific, it was alarming that the mayor was mulling the nuclear option. (The nuclear option, ironically, being something those cockroaches would survive.) But he stopped, then reconsidered how a lesser, more Pavlovian solution may be needed.
“Or we’re gonna have to devise some method that says either a big bell’s gonna come down or somebody with a water gun’s gonna squirt ’em when they knowingly make misstatement of facts. So I’m gonna work on that.”
Ah, maybe go after the cockroaches first? Then work on the dais-mounted squirt gun.