October is an exciting month because you can always count on at least one city council to really get into the Halloween spirit. Sure enough, Wisconsin delivered. But there were plenty of other highlights, including a sudden competition between two cupcakeries and a mayoral field trip that I may have been invited to.
It was the final day of October, so you know what that meant:
Council. Meeting. Costumes.
“Mr. Mayor, we have a quorum,” the clerk called out to Mayor Paul Soglin.
“Thank goodness,” murmured the mayor before shooting a bemused glance at council President Marsha Rummel. “What would you like to do?” he inquired warily.
Other council members cackled as Rummel, wearing a lace garment on her head and several buttons on her shirt, flipped on her mic.
“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” she retorted in character as Mary Harris Jones.
Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, herself in a modest-looking Wonder Woman outfit, used her superpowers for the most mundane of purposes: “On item 56, I requested that it be noted that I’m recusing myself,” she asked politely.
“Anybody else have comments or observations?” Mayor Soglin gazed around the room. He paused and grinned.
“This looks like it’s going to work out quite nicely since it appears that a signficant number of members need to be out on the streets tonight. And Sara is waiting for me at home to watch the last three episodes of ‘Stranger Things’.”
Council members snickered. But they weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the loosened dress code tonight.
“This particular topic sort of touched a nerve,” a public commenter ornately dressed as a hybrid wizard-priest said about a proposed alcohol license. “I would’ve had my pine bough here to bless you with water because god knows we need blessing right now, including on this issue,” he pantomimed spraying water.
“While I’ve got huge issues with this particular co-op choosing to become one more place selling alcohol and eliminating the sanctuary for some sensitive people to shop for healthy food without alcohol…how can we serve the soul?” he asked rhetorically, wearing the perfect attire for his argument.
“So I’ll put my pine bough up here soaked with water,” he again pretended to toss streams of water onto the council. “Bless you and bless the city.”
It was corny, but there was no time to savor the moment. For standing at the lectern was the scariest costume of the night: a man dressed as a big, bad developer.
“You can see a variety of housing types–the multifamily and mixed-use as previously located, with the park and the school site located in the center and east portion,” the Dark Lord gestured to his colorful map as a chill swept the room.
Council President Rummel was now in the presiding chair–the mayor having possibly ducked out early to finish “Stranger Things” with his wife as promised. (I think we’ve all struggled to choose between chairing a council meeting and binge-watching TV, so I get it.) She opened the floor to public comment.
“We would like to have certain conditions placed to make sure the neighborhood stays the good, vibrant neighborhood it is today,” one citizen pleaded.
“Right now during peak hours, that gets backed up past Kwik Trip,” explained another.
“The fix was in,” ranted a third man with a ponytail and faint New Jersey accent. “I’ve never seen a bigger fix. The fix is in. The deal is done. Too bad.”
“The fix” must have been pretty deep, for the entire council voted in favor of the zoning change. Let’s hope it doesn’t “haunt” them.