We had a smörgåsbord of “firsts” in September: the first time we saw a husband bring his wife roses at a council meeting. Our first podcast interview with a knight (even though she claims she’s not a knight). And our first “Best Thing, Worst Thing” story that profiles a non-American city.
And hey! We finally marked our territory in one of the three states that City Council Chronicles had not visited: Montana. Now, it’s only Rhode Island and New Mexico that need to get with the program. Check out which states we did profile with our September Month in Review.
And if you haven’t seen the first country music video we’ve encountered that everybody is talking about (well, everybody who watches the Fayetteville, North Carolina city council meetings, that is), plug in your headphones and jam out here:
Warning: if you are easily triggered by unrelenting happiness and optimism, proceed with caution.
“Wendy, thank you for 15 years of service,” city manager Erin Reynolds smiled warmly at the planning director while brandishing an award.
“Her husband is here tonight,” Reynolds stared out to the audience as a man lumbered forth. There were light giggles as he proceeded to pull the master-of-all husband moves: he stood beside her holding a bouquet of roses.
“He does the recording of our city council meetings, but he’s also her husband,” the city manager explained as councilors clumped together for a photo. Ah, yes: it’s fitting that the man thoughtful enough to bring flowers is also the unsung caretaker of the council feed.
As the husband took his place behind the camera (“nice flowers” someone grunted), he swung it to the projector screen on the wall.
“We’re about 500 people away from 5,000” likes on Facebook announced Reynolds, proudly scrolling through the city’s carefully-curated page.
“I’ve got a couple fun swag items for the 5,000th person,” she teased.
Folks, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Get over here and claim. the. swag. Also, Florence? If this review gets you to 5,000, I expect commission. Just a water bottle, t-shirt, or a street named after me. Something easy.
But the fun didn’t stop there: Miller Park is getting a facelift and the public works director was positively stoked.
“Miller Park’s a great facility. It just needs to be amped up.” He went all-in on the sell. “It’s a HUGE community destination. Regional draw!”
With glittering scenes of an urban utopia on the screen, he revealed the pièce de résistance. “With this new concession stand, if a group wants to come in and have a movie night, there’s a popcorn machine, soda machine.”
After the whirlwind tour of Miller Park 2.0, the meeting turned to what could have been a sticky topic: the performance review of the municipal judge.
“How does it feel down there?” Reynolds joked as the judge slid behind a low table. He chuckled nervously in response. But it quickly became apparent that His Honor had zilch to worry about.
“It’s the recommendation,” disclosed Mayor Joe Henry, “to implement an increase to the monthly retainer of 2.8 percent.”
The pay raise sailed through. But just as quickly, another employee landed in the hot seat.
“We’ve heard a lot from Mike tonight,” Reynolds glanced at the public works director. “He has the challenge of being in the public eye. He does end up taking some heat that he doesn’t enjoy.”
There was nervous fidgeting. Where was she heading with this?
“I think you can all trust in the work that he does,” she pivoted. “So with that, happy birthday, Mike!”
There were several “ahhs” and boisterous applause as the tension dissipated.
“He didn’t know I was going to do that!” boasted Reynolds.
From beneath her desk, she produced not a cake, but a hunk of wood in the shape of Oregon gifted to the city. She thrust it into the hands of Mayor Henry for a picture.
“If you crop it like this, you can get the detail,” Councilor Joshua Greene leaned over and gestured. Inspired, he jumped in front of the dais and held up his phone.
“There you go,” he clicked blissfully away. “One more.”
Flowers, a pay raise, birthday wishes, and the perfect picture. What more could you want from a city council meeting?*