#55: Marysville, MI 9/26/16

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.

No, nobody was getting married at Marysville city hall. But things were still pretty darn eventful.

1. Something old

“Well, some two years and ten months ago I was at this podium taking the oath of office!” Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Pyden strolled down memory lane while the retiring police sergeant next to him stared back politely.

“On behalf of a grateful council, hopefully you have a good retirement. Be safe. And, uh, do–” Pyden shrugged while searching for the right motivational words, “–whatever it is you feel you…wanna do.”

Nailed it.

Putting on his glasses, the Mayor Pro Tem read from the council’s congratulatory message: “Happy retirement, as he spends more time hunting and enjoying life with his wife, son, and soon-to-be-born grandchild. (2. Something new)

“You do you.”

3. Something borrowed

City manager Randall Fernandez stepped to the microphone with the air of someone hiding a juicy piece of gossip. “As you know, last November we had a vote to see if we could possibly build a new city hall. The residents said they did not want that.”

He glanced around. “This building is almost 50 years old. This building will need other significant upgrades besides the roof.” Having established that city hall was on borrowed time, Fernandez dropped a bombshell.

“As you know again, the council toured 1515 Busha Highway. Mike was our tour guide. He brought it up with his bosses to see if they had any interest in donating that building to the city of Marysville. We were informed a few months ago that the building WOULD be donated to us.”

A new city hall? For free?! Marysville is the luckiest city on the planet! Hell, if you people don’t take it, I will!

This council meeting is being recorded by the security cameras at your bank.

Council Member Michael Buggy flipped to the back page of his packet apprehensively. “It says ‘such property shall continuously be used for such public purpose.’ Are we legally bound that that’s the ONLY thing we can use this property for?”

All eyes turned to city attorney Gary Fletcher, the white haired scion at the end of the long room. “That’s the purpose for which it has to be accepted. If not, it’s not deductible and they wouldn’t donate it.”

“So a year from now,” Council Member Buggy mused, “if we decide that this isn’t something–”

“I think I answered the question,” Fletcher sharply cut him off. “We should just leave it at that.”

Buggy slowly sank back in his seat. The room fell silent. What didn’t Fletcher want him to say? Did Buggy almost spill the beans on Fletcher’s secret plan for a private City Hall sauna?

4. Something blue

“Good luck with the baby,” the Mayor Pro Tem remembered to call out to the retiring sergeant as council members gathered their papers. “I had girls of my own and for…very sensitive…situations. So…good luck.”

There were cackles in the back of the room. Other council members snickered as the Mayor Pro Tem threw up his hands in embarrassment.

“I’m not trying to be chauvinistic or anything! But girls are special! They have special…needs.” Council Member Rita Hendricks rolled her eyes so hard they could have skidded across the river into Canada.

“Shut up!” he pleaded.

“Menstruation! I’m talking about menstruation!”

Final thoughts: Menstruation.


Mark Your Calendar: National #CityHallSelfie Day

Attention Chronicleheads! Next Monday, August 15, is the holiest of high holy holidays: National #CityHallSelfie Day! The concept is simple: 1.) take a selfie at your city hall 2.) win prize.

From the event page:

The first annual National #CityHallSelfie Day is taking place on Monday, August 15. Our goal is to break the record for city hall selfies taken in one day. What’s the record? We’re not quite sure but we’ve pegged it at around nine.

You can participate in this new holiday by posting your #cityhallselfie on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. If you not a fan of social media, send your #cityhallselfie via email.

Prizes will be awarded all day. Everyone who participates will receive an ELGL coozie. You’ll also have a chance to win a selfie stick, Treat Yo Self mug, Pawnee ringer t-shirt, Indiana names t-shirt, and RIP Harambe t-shirt.

As a bonus, City Council Chronicles is upping the ante. If you take a selfie WITH a city council member OR INSIDE OF a city council room, your picture will be posted here! So get out there and ambush somebody!


Interview #3: Fort Wayne, IN Reporter Dave Gong

After last week’s Fort Wayne city council meeting, I had some questions. And who better to ask than the lucky S.O.B. who gets to watch EVERY Fort Wayne city council meeting: Journal Gazette reporter (and high school friend of mine) Dave Gong.

He talked to me about surprises, being fair, and his reaction to a salty-mouthed councilman.

Q: On a scale of “fun” to “extremely fun,” how would you describe the council meetings?

A: Extremely fun…they are the highlight of my week.

Q: Noted! No sarcasm! What are you watching and listening for at these meetings?

A: Pretty much everything. You listen for back-and-forth and pointed arguments and the whole deal. Part of politics is we love a good show. Especially the media–we love a good show.

Q: Are there some councilmen whom you can depend on to say something…”out there?”

A: Well, “out there,” yeah. There are councilmen who are very consistent. Sometimes they’ll surprise you, which is always great. I like to be surprised.

Q: How do they generally treat each other?

A: Actually, to be honest–pretty well. I read your thing about Baltimore

Q: Yeah, that was wacky.  Some of them visibly can’t stand each other.

A: They get that way. All city councilmen are like that when you’ve got ideologies–they clash. One guy will be insulting another one week and they’ll be best of friends the next. Fort Wayne, Indiana is one of the most functional cities I’ve ever worked in.

Q: Are they pretty friendly with you?

A: I think they know I can be fair with them. You’ll get reporters and outlets that specific councilmen don’t like. As far as I know, no one has ever told me that they absolutely hate me. Generally if you’re a journalist, someone somewhere hates you.

Fort Wayne, IN city council reporter Dave Gong

Q: Did I seem cool in high school?

A: Yeah…as cool as any of the rest of us were in high school. I don’t remember any of us going to a bunch of parties. There was a lot of laser tag.

Q: Mmhmm.

A: Whatever my judge of “cool” is, it’s probably wrong….But from my standpoint, you were f*cking awesome.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve seen happen?

A: That’s a hard one. Ninety percent of them are super mundane. After the election in November, the council was even more Republican. This guy got up and he starts railing about how all the Democrats are socialists and the Republicans should show backbone.  And [Councilman] Glynn Hines, through his hands, coughed “BULLSH*T” into his hot mic.

Q: Whoa!

A: In other places–you go to Chicago–you see swearing on the floor. I saw lawmakers, state elected lawmakers hurling insults at each other. But in Fort Wayne, that was unconscionable. It spurred a blog post from me–because I like that sort of crap–caused public apologies, and it was…beautiful, actually.

Q: Do you ever gossip about the councilmen to other reporters?

A: Sometimes. Paul Ensley was wearing a bow tie the other day and kind of looked like Pee-wee Herman.

Q: I saw that! So creepy.

A: He’s a fun one. He beat a 12-year incumbent  in the primary.

Q: Are you gonna go to the reunion?

A: I’ve been on that alumni website and–

Q: No one told me about that…

A: …I imagine somebody will call.

Q: …

Follow Dave Gong on Twitter: @DGong89