“Last week, as you all know, I went to Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Laura Wassmer casually mentioned her Kansas and Nebraska mayors’ powwow at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We had quite a dog and pony show,” she continued, gingerly stepping around all of the names she was dropping. “Kellyanne Conway talked a bit about working to help the opioid crisis. Ben Carson talked about affordable housing.”
She paused. “They made the point over and over, there are a lot of great things happening at the White House that is not being reported by the media–and asked that we pass that along.”
Consider it passed! Just think of all the people who haven’t pleaded guilty! Everything’s great!
And you know where else great things were happening? Right there in the Prairie Village council meeting, where it was a very big week for city administrator Wes Jordan.
“Wes, this is a very big week for you!” Mayor Wassmer glanced slyly over to him. “Not only is it your birthday on Thursday, but SOMEBODY has been with Prairie Village for 30 years as of Wednesday.”
“Woo-woo!” came an anonymous catcall as applause broke out.
The mayor went down the line of compliments, from the professional–“I think of how conscientious he is”–to the…intimate.
“There’s the perfect hair. The forever perfect hair,” she observed, although the video quality was not good enough to independently confirm. “We have your favorite ice cream cake in the back. And more importantly–”
Mayor Wassmer disappeared under the desk for a moment, then emerged brandishing a giant, shiny blue object.
“–your own Prairie Village street sign!”
“Speech! Speech! Speech!” yelled Council Member Brooke Morehead.
The only thing standing between the council and ice cream cake was a tiny bit of official business. Namely, a resolution “in support of the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” It seemed like the kind of routine measure that would pass without a fight.
But then the fight began.
“I will vote no because I’m not comfortable placing our city under international law when the U.S. Senate refuses to ratify the treaty after nearly 40 years,” announced Council Member Morehead defiantly.
“By passing this resolution, it could be mistaken that we are endorsing its tenets on civil rights, reproductive rights, and gender relations.”
“There are probably places where men are discriminated against, arguably,” Council Member Dan Runion echoed in the vein of “All Lives Matter.” “It’s a feel-good measure. Why pull one group out and treat them differently?”
Council Member Ron Nelson was incredulous at what he was hearing. “There are 189 state-nations that have adopted the Convention. There are seven that have not,” he retorted. “Those are Palau, the Holy See, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Tonga. And last and, sadly, least: the United States.”
“It frankly amazes me that we can say highlighting that there should not be discrimination against one class of people minimizes others’.”
Council Member Jori Nelson stared down at her notes. “We’re proclaiming this to be Diaper Week and Electric Car Week. And we’ve done Peanut Butter Week.” She clenched her fist. “It is MY opinion that women’s equal rights is more important and should take precedence over peanut butter, diapers.”
“I’m not sure what–what–if we’re…I’M certainly not trying to equate this resolution with Peanut Butter Week!” shouted Council Member Andrew Wang. “We are creating an enormous act of discrimination by passing this resolution while there has NOT been any shred of evidence that we have a problem.”
“I don’t know why this anxiety exists because a United Nations entity thought that this was important,” pleaded Council Member Chad Herring.
Council Member Morehead reiterated her firm opposition. “I’m a successful business owner. Longtime mom, grandma. I think I’m a pretty good role model.”
She caught the eye of an employee in the back. “Jamie! You, lady, you’re doing a terrific job. And you, little girl back there? Yeah, you’re doing wonderful!” She leaned back. “You are tying yourself to the United Nations. We don’t need it!”
Council Member Jori Nelson’s hand shot up. “When you speak about women as ‘little girls,’ or not addressing the staff as educated and intelligent, I think it’s demeaning.”
She glowered across the dais and pointed angrily at Morehead. “They’re not little girls. They’re women.”
“Make no mistake,” Council Member Ron Nelson interjected softly, “a vote that no, this resolution should not be adopted, is a vote that there should be discrimination against women.” It appeared the council was evenly divided in this standoff. All of a sudden–
“Motion to refer to staff,” Council Member Runion moved to ditch the resolution entirely for the night after a half hour of anguish.
The mayor called for a vote. Seven hands went up in favor. Five against.
It was a disheartening ending to the meeting. And an even more bizarre beginning to Diaper Week.