#109: Saginaw, MI 6/5/17

Somebody, put up the balloons and the streamers! At the Saginaw city council meeting, we’ve got birthdays in the house.

“It is my honor to give this proclamation,” grinned Mayor Pro Tem Floyd Kloc as three stocky gentlemen from the Kiwanis Club clustered at the podium. “I’m also a member, so it’s quite special to me!”

“Be it resolved,” he read, that the city “does extend this expression of gratitude to the Kiwanis Club of Saginaw for their service over the past 100 years.”

A proud centenarian stepped forward. “One of our signature projects is buying dictionaries for all the third graders in Saginaw public schools. Last year we bought 386 dictionaries, I believe.”

Dictionaries? As in, old-fashioned autocorrect? Classy move.

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More importantly: are you buying the children Snapchat filters and fidget spinners?

The Kiwanis may have been turning 100, but I hope they know how to respect their elders–because an even¬†more senior group was also blowing out candles.

“I represent the Plumbers & Steamfitters Union, Local 85. We turned 125 years old on May 1,” a significantly younger man informed the council.

“I am a little partial to Local 85,” admitted Council Member Michael Balls coyly. “My son attained his journeyman card through the plumbers union and he lives in a big beautiful home with a three-car garage and stuff like that.”

Balls nodded with the satisfaction of a proud dad. “It’s been real rewarding to him.”

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“However, if my Father’s Day present this year isn’t a Porsche, I will disown him.”

As it turned out, Saginaw was about to witness another son do right by his dad.

But the circumstances were anything but cheerful.

“Proclamation in memory of Brent R. Smith, whose rich and abundant life came to a close on March 3, 2017,” read Mayor Pro Tem Kloc, standing to shake hands with a long line of bereaved family members.

The bespectacled teenage son then stepped up to the microphone.

“I’d much rather have my dad up here receiving this honor,” he said while family members folded their arms behind him.

“He was greatly influenced by his grandpa. They were best friends and they’re most likely hanging out right now as I speak.”

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“All of his hope and trust was in Jesus Christ,” he continued quickly, so as to avoid becoming too emotional. “He and my mom raised the three of us kids to be god-fearing Christians as well.”

While the audience stared silently at the floor, the boy punctuated his eulogy with plainspoken Midwestern piety:

“My dad did so much for so many people. There’s one thing that we know for sure in all of this: when my dad was standing before god, he heard the words, ‘well done, good and faithful servant.'”

From the back row, a slow clap began. Council Member Brenda Moore slapped the table and stared kindly at the Smith daughter.

“I came in with the young lady and I told her she was so beautiful. You are beautiful,” she repeated in a grandmotherly tone.

“And thank you so much–mom, family–for sharing your husband with the city of Saginaw.”

Then, ending the council meeting on a note of good fortune, she revealed: “I hope that you start to enjoy the sunny weather. I’m actually gonna plant a garden this year with the help of my friends. We’re gonna plant a garden!”

And with that, the cycle of life, death, and birth was complete in the span of a single city council meeting.

#28: Phoenix, AZ 6/15/16

Triumphant news from Phoenix city hall! Like the mythical bird rising from the ashes, a shimmering new council member rose to fill the vacant District 3 seat.

“Welcome to Councilwoman Stark,” Mayor Greg Stanton congratulated the beknighted Sun Valley servant. “You have some tough votes today.¬†Welcome to the dais.”

She was further welcomed by a few fair¬†Phoenicians gently begging the council’s favor.

“I¬†wanted to show you the lights here are LEDs,” said a professorial-looking¬†man who shined a laser pointer at the ceiling as attendees craned their necks. “But in the center here are the yellow white lights that I have in my house,” he circled the laser like a TED Talk presenter.

“We’re just asking the city to take a careful look at the options. Soft white is a good choice,” he smiled, pocketing the pointer.

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Phoenix: come for the council meeting, stay for the light show.

“It’s my birthday today and I wanna share something,” a woman in a pink blazer gushed excitedly. “Monday, we¬†did meet downtown–and what do we do every Monday? We! Get! Out!” she pumped her arms while chanting the catchphrase.

“We meet at The Corner restaurant. There are a lot of discounts! There are free raffle tickets! We walk or run and there’s music!” She slyly grinned at the council. “Happy birthday to everybody!”

“Thank¬†you very much,” the mayor picked up on the cue. “I hope I’m not in violation of open meeting law by wishing Ms. Barker a happy birthday.”

“You’re good, mayor!” the city attorney¬†hollered.

Next on the agenda were several liquor license applications. The mayor held a voice vote, with everyone voting aye. Suddenly, a screech came over the speaker.

Mayor Stanton’s eyes darted, until he realized what was happening.

“Councilwoman Pastor, are you on the phone?”

“Yes,” the councilwoman’s voice crackled, sounding like she was in a school bus full of kindergartners caught in a tornado.

“Did you vote aye on that item?” he asked into the abyss.

“Yes!” the voice screeched.

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The mayor’s “I-hear-voices” face

Because it was her first day, it was time for the hazing of newbie Councilwoman Debra Stark. Council members had to set a special election to see if the good Phoenicians wanted her to stick around.

“Councilwoman Stark, are you going to declare a conflict of interest on this?” Hizzoner inquired.

“I think I should,” she chuckled nervously.

There was only one comment, from a devoted Starkhead. “I¬†personally prefer the person siting there,” he gestured toward the councilwoman, before chiding the staffer with a hot trigger finger. “I’m not sure when you start your clock, but please let me get to the podium, so when I start speaking–you probably are doing that, but I thought I heard the beeper go off before I even got out of my chair.”

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This man wants his FULL two minutes, Timekeeper!

The final ordinance? New retail at the airport, with one fancy addition:

“If this passes, Councilman Valenzuela will get his spa at the airport,” Mayor Stanton ribbed his exfoliated colleague. (It passed, much to the delight of the councilman’s pores.)

“That was one of our quicker meetings,” the mayor bragged, glancing way down the dais. “Councilwoman Stark, you brought us good luck!”

Final thoughts: New light bulbs, new spa, and new councilwoman. Wow! Talk about a mythical rebirth! I give this meeting 8 out of 10 soft white bulbs.

#13: Romulus, MI 5/2/16

FAST! That’s the only word to describe this week’s blink-or-you’ll-miss-it Romulus city council meeting.

In other burgs, something as explosive as rezoning would roil a council for hours. One such Romulus troublemaker stepped to the mic and gave his ultimatum to the People’s Servants: “We’re looking to keep the rezoning” on his property.

Councilman William Wadsworth approached cautiously. “You just wanna keep it for future development?”

Troublemaker: “Yes sir.”

Wadsworth: “Okay, fine.”

Bam! Done in 8.5 seconds. Let’s go, we’re burnin’ daylight!

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William Wadsworth, the Speedy Gonzales of city councilmembers

“I would like to say happy birthday,” council Chairman John Barden said, glancing sideways at the city¬†clerk. “Clerk had a birthday Sunday.”

“21, right?!” Councilman Harry Crout exclaimed.

“Forever!” she responded¬†punnily. But okay, seriously, let’s move on to the-

“I would like to ask council for a birthday resolution for Ronald McClellan’s 70th birthday,” Councilwoman Linda Choat bandwagoned. Yes, yes, send him a strippergram. It’s on me. Can we just get on to the mayor’s report please?

“I have a video clip to run,” Mayor LeRoy Burcroff said with zero trace of excitement. “Roger, you wanna run that and we’ll just move on from there?”

Suddenly, a perky young face appeared on the screen to rattle off the local comings and goings.

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“COMRADES, WITHOUT ROMULUS YOU ARE NOTHING.”

“Hi, everyone! I’m Jasmine. Here’s what’s coming up around Romulus: Romulus Drug Task Force bowling fundraiser is May 6. Boy Scout Troop 872 Eagle Project spaghetti dinner fundraiser is May 1o. Romulus High School bands are holding a spaghetti dinner¬†fundraiser on May 12. Romulus Animal Shelter bowling fundraiser is May 13. Thanks and have a great week, everybody!”

(If you don’t like spaghetti or bowling, hopefully you have Netflix because there ain’t many options.)

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Mayor LeRoy Burcroff, clearly a cinephile

But it wasn’t all meatballs-and-sauce for Councilman Wadsworth. He’s jonesing for a bridge to be built on Pennsylvania Road so those godforsaken trains stop holding up the good people.

“Recently I went to buy gasoline at the Shell station. It took me 30 minutes to come back with five gallons of gas,” he fumed. “That upset me.”

A couple of years ago, they were soooo close to building the overpass. “[Former]¬†Mayor Oakley told me ‘this looks really good’ and two weeks later he told me it all went to…south. I almost swore,” the self-censoring scion caught himself. “Pardon me. I’m sorry.”

On that apologetic note, the council meeting was adjour-

“If you’re celebrating a birthday in May, happy birthday,” Councilman Crout brought it back to the goddamn birthdays. “Roger, happy birthday.”

“I’m gonna piggyback off of Councilman Crout,” the clerk oinked. “Also we have our mayor’s birthday on May¬†8. So happy birthday, mayor.”

Yes, for he’s a jolly good fellow. Hip-hip-hooray. Quick, go to the recap!

Final thoughts: This place has more birthdays per capita than a Chuck-E-Cheese. I’m going to name Councilman Wadsworth¬†the VIP for apologizing for his almost-swear. That’s what I call leadership. Good luck on getting that bridge. 4/5 stars