#176: Temecula, CA 11/27/18

“Are you in the audience this evening?” Mayor Matt Rahn scanned the room for one particular Boy Scout, which should not have been difficult given the scarcity of badges and uniforms in the crowd.

“We wanted to congratulate you on receiving the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest achievement in scouting. Let’s hear about your project!”

The scout stood uneasily behind the microphone and softly described his community service. “For my project, I decided to go with Rancho Damacitas [Children & Family Services]. I decided to go with a garden box and benches. But then they decided they didn’t want that anymore. They wanted to build a shed. So I agreed to make a shed for them.”

“God, you started off with a bench and made it all the way to shed,” the mayor exclaimed. “It’s a good thing they didn’t have an annex wing put on!” A group of teenagers grinned and snickered in the second row–although it was less a reaction to the mayor’s joke than to something they were doodling in their notebooks.

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I see you, kids.

Fortunately, they picked the right night to observe a council meeting, as the Temecula Valley Museum’s director stood to introduce visiting dignitaries from Daisen, Temecula’s sister city in Japan.

“They will be enjoying many of the amenities, including the duck pond, the Pechanga Great Oak Tree, and also San Diego,” she said. “They will also be our special guests in Santa’s Electric Light Parade.

“Please forgive me if I mispronounce their names.” She proceeded strenuously to sound out each name, but none of them appeared to mind as they strode to the front of the room for a group picture.

There was minor confusion as the mayor attempted to pass out certificates, but had no idea who was who. Thinking quickly, he flashed the papers to one of the visitors, who pointed him towards the correct recipient.

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Temecula council goal: learn Japanese

“Have you taken them to In-N-Out Burger?” Mayor Pro Tem Michael Naggar grilled the museum manager. “Not yet? And the Cheesecake Factory?”

“Where do we get those jackets like they have on?” quizzed Council Member Maryann Edwards, pointing to the branded jacket of one of the visitors.

“That’s a good question,” Mayor Rahn echoed. “Where did you get the Temecula jacket?”

“You can get those in the visitor’s center around the corner,” replied the city manager, to the pleasant surprise of the whole council.

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I predict five purchases in the near future.

The last large order of business–other than the teens’ excited whispering about something on one of their phones–was the dry but important matter of extending a construction permit for the Temecula Valley Hospital.

“I can personally vouch that because of the hospital–no exaggeration–it has saved the life of my father-in-law, it saved the life of my wife,” Mayor Pro Tem Naggar testified. “There is an impact of the helicopter flying over–it flies about 300 feet over my house. At first, it’s annoying until you think about who’s in that helicopter. Then you find out a little annoyance is meaningless based on what’s going on up there.”

“None of us could have dreamt that it would be this good,” echoed Council Member Edwards. “My husband has been a ‘customer’ on several occasions. How we ever got along without you, we will never know.”

With praise like that, I hope the Japanese delegation gets to visit the hospital–a far, far healthier alternative to the Cheesecake Factory.

#44: Hammond, LA 8/23/16

Louisiana! Land of crawdads and Mardi Gras! Laissez les bon temps rouler on the Hammond city council!

“Mr. President,” drawled Councilman Jason Hood, “several weeks ago I saw an article in our local paper about a young man doing a service project for Miss Louise. I don’t do a lot of this, but I wanted to bring him here”–to show him a good time on Bourbon Street?!–“to recognize him for what he has achieved.”

The councilman added, “Kyle, come on up–I’m gonna give the people an example what kind of person gets this [Eagle Scout] badge: nine Medal of Honor winners were Eagle Scouts. One former president, Supreme Court justice, several astronauts, and numerous prominent, successful businessmen.”

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Hey, kid: if you’re not a president, justice, or astronaut, you’ve let Councilman Jason Hood down.

Oh, sure, overlook the serial killers and ne’er-do-wells who also made Eagle Scout. Come on, council. This is Louisiana–let’s hear about debauchery and booze! Like you, the well-dressed man looking for an alcohol permit:

“We ask all applicants of alcohol permits to come before council to make sure you understand the laws,” lectured council President Michael Williams. “Any sale to minors is not going to be tolerated.”

“Yes, sir. I understand that. Yes, sir,” obediently responded the man as he clutched the podium.

Mayor Pete Panepinto came to his defense. “Mr. Richardson runs a clothing store on the corner. So if he runs it anything like he runs that store, it’s gonna be great.”

Suddenly, a movement caught Williams’s eye. “I’m sorry, Miss Louise?”

A woman with short blonde hair and a blue t-shirt rushed forward and planted herself behind Mr. Richardson.

“I’m sure that you’ve checked the proximity to the church that’s right there as to whether there would be any kind of a–”

Several council members gestured in objection. “Further down! Much further down!”

“Thank you,” Miss Louise said politely, returning to her seat. The council approved Mr. Richardson’s alcohol license.

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Miss Louise: friend of Eagle Scouts, protector of churches

Well, I’ll be damned. I’ve seen more drama at a middle school PTA meeting. Surely there must be someone willing to raise a ruckus in this sleepy burb!

“Ordinance to approve request to rezone a lot at 28 South Orange Street,” President Williams read, glancing up just in time to see a towering woman marching deliberately towards the podium.

“I got held up on a case this afternoon, so I missed the opportunity for public comment,” she brushed aside the council. “But Orange Street is my street. And if you’ll entertain me–”

“Sure,” President Williams murmured.

“I drive down that street several times a day. I’m also secretary for the neighborhood association. Our neighbors are cautiously supportive of the rezoning. But in the future, who’s to say what’s gonna happen with that property?”

She dropped her notes on the podium for emphasis. “We’re here to say that we’re supportive of development…just not forget that we’re back there.”

A long pause lingered. Would someone cue The  Breakfast Club theme? Eventually, President Williams mumbled, “so moved.”

It passed unanimously.

Final thoughts: I give 10 out of 10 stars to Miss Louise for vigilantly protecting the Lord’s House from the scourge of alcohol-serving restaurants.

#2: Post Falls, ID 4/5/16

Big news from potato country: Mayor Ron Jacobson is on vacay to sunny Cabo. Yes, while the head honcho enjoys tequilas and senoritas, the six amigos on the city council stayed home to crack open an icy can of the People’s Business.

Firebrand three-term councilor and 2013 Citizen of the Year Linda Wilhelm kicked things off with an award for Post Falls’s newest Eagle Scout. “Every young man in Post Falls who makes Eagle Scout comes to city council and gets an award for that,” she explained, bragging that this uniformed lad had selflessly built a walking path at the Post Falls senior center to earn his stripes. In return, Councilor Wilhelm bestowed a gift that would impress any strapping teen.

“This is a buck knife and your name is spelled right on the knife,” she beamed. “Be careful with that.”

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Post Falls’s newest Eagle Scout receives a buck knife and the legal right to hunt and kill anyone from Kootenai County for 24 hours

The feel-good vibes kept rolling with an announcement that Corbin Park was just named Idaho’s Best Disc Golf Course (for those of you looking for a new vacation spot). And the 12th annual tree giveaway is this Saturday, with each citizen being able to claim a Caligula-like THREE trees. What a leafy utopia Post Falls shall be after this Saturday!

The good news didn’t stop there in this hardy hamlet: Police Chief Haug muscled his way to the podium to offer a commendation to one of his boys in blue. Seems that back in February, Officer Koontz stopped a screw-loose man from 86-ing himself off the Interstate 90 overpass. “That’s why we love this town so much,” interjected Councilor Wilhelm. “It gets me a little choked up.”

After brushing aside the tears, it was time for the “citizens issues” section, a.k.a. public comment. “I don’t see anyone running up here,” Councilor Wilhelm observed after a moment’s pause. Indeed, all 30,000 Post Falls residents were nestled snug in their beds. Except Mayor Jacobson, who was likely nestled between a Jacuzzi and a margarita the size of his head.

Now for some playtime! Or at least, as close as we’re going to get: the Post Falls parks manager was here to talk about playgrounds. A decadent 13 playgrounds dot the city’s landscape and offer a bulwark against what he called “the computerized world.” Hey, buddy: I’m watching you through the magic of the computerized world. Try streaming video on a jungle gym and tell me how it goes.

Suddenly, the cogs of government ground to a halt. Hawk-eyed Councilor Alan Wolfe had been perusing the Parks Department policy and made a SHOCKING discovery. “There is no Section 9,” he bombshelled.

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Councilor Alan Wolfe: “I will go postal if you do not show me Section 9.”

Confusion reigned. Women gasped. Babes wept.

“Is there any reason why there’s no Section 9?”

For a moment, Post Falls, Idaho entered DEFCON-2.

Then, under her breath, Councilor Kerri Thoreson muttered, “All the secret covert stuff is in there.”

Whew. Tension defused.

With that, Councilor Wilhelm announced, “We do need an executive session for 15 minutes” to “acquire an interest in real property,” which sounds like code for “buying land–say, a beachfront condo in Cabo, with no mayors allowed.”

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I had to watch this bridge for 15 minutes

Final thoughts: Clocking in at a cool 45 minutes, these people kept it short, sweet, and focused on the thing that really matters: the tree giveaway this Saturday. I give this meeting 3 out of 3 free saplings.