Month in Review: August 2018

If ever there was a time to start following City Council Chronicles, it was August. And I’ll give you one hint why:

International #CityHallSelfie Day.

That’s right, we picked the top 10 city council selfies and showcased them to the world! But we had plenty of other serious news to cover, too. Have you heard of the mayor with a rat infestation?

Or the seven city council members who blocked an anti-discrimination measure?

That is some pretty serious fare. But you can also find more lighthearted segments with the council member who reenacted a medical drama and a role-playing exercise for teen engagement.

To engage yourself in a whirlwind of activity, check out the August Month in Review.

And if you aren’t a big reader, you’re in luck, because we’ve got images galore like this one:

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Interview #102: Jefferson City, MO Mayor Carrie Tergin (with podcast)

This podcast interview is available on iTunesStitcherPlayer FM, and right here:

Carrie Tergin is famous for her “selfies with the mayor” and is therefore the foremost authority to appraise our International #CityHallSelfie Day Top 10 List. On the podcast, we welcome her back to talk about city hall art, and then discuss one time her own council meeting took a series of unexpected twists.

Q: Mayor, where would you like to start?

A: I have to tell you, these top 10 selfies are just exquisite. We have Waldo, Florida and it was his first selfie! Mayor Louie Davis, to share your very first ever selfie on #CityHallSelfie Day–and he may or may not know this–the requirement is that he’s gonna have to send regular selfies. He can’t just do the one. We wanna see that continue, so don’t disappoint me.

Q: I am inspired that it is never too late to start taking selfies!

A: Absolutely. And the “Where’s Waldo?” I mean, you can do so much with that. Number eight, we have Cary, North Carolina. I have to say, I’m going to give this a number two on Mayor Tergin’s list. Why? Because she has a Snapchat filter. Wow! And a bitmoji on top of it. If you don’t know what either one of those are, you’re gonna have to get with the program!

Q: Has Jeff City ever had a Snapchat filter to your knowledge?

A: Oh, as a matter of fact we have. Shame on me for not taking a selfie with it. Uh-oh. That’s our challenge: figuring out how can we elevate our selfie game? Congrats, Lori. You are my number two choice.

A: This next selfie in Maryland, which is the multi-angle selfie–a selfie within a selfie within a selfie, so basically the “infinity” city hall selfie–that would be my number one. I mean, you can’t hide. When you talk about transparency, when you talk about open government, I don’t know how you can get any more open than that. If you look in there, you’ll just be looking really to infinity to see all of the infinite selfies that are shown in this picture. Really good job on all the action.

Q: I appreciate all of your critiques. I think everyone who entered this competition was a winner, even though they didn’t know I was turning it into a competition! We do have to get back to the serious business of council meetings in Jefferson City. On March 5, I noticed that you could not have a meeting due to the lack of council members. When did you find out that was the situation?

A: Well, sitting there waiting for the council meeting to begin and looking at the clock and starting to say, “where is this councilman and that councilman? Is everybody okay?” And then realizing that “oh, this person did say they were going to be out of town.” At the time I thought, what do you want me to do? You want me to sing? You want me to entertain you? We’ve got everybody here, so how do we have an entertaining time without actually conducting any city business?

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Jefferson City, MO Mayor Carrie Tergin

A: That particular night, though, we were also waiting on the crew for the U.S.S. Jefferson City. We have a submarine that is named for our city. We had crew members that were in from Hawaii visiting their namesake city. They had planned to stop by that evening. The cool thing was, even though we had no official business, we were able to spend quite a bit of time with the crew members, have them talk about their experiences. We were able to focus that entire time on our military and all they do for our country. In that moment of panic that “we don’t have a quorum and what are we going to do,” it was almost like it was meant to be, really. It was one of those moments that turned out to be one of my favorite council meetings ever.


Follow Mayor Carrie Tergin on Twitter: @CarrieTergin

Special Feature! International #CityHallSelfie Day 2017

Unless you’re a sovereign citizen, yesterday was the yugest, bigliest day of the year: a celebration of local government called #CityHallSelfie Day! Naturally, that holiday is firmly up our alley.

On social media there are now hundreds–possibly thousands–of city hall pictures from around the earth. That is why I have curated the best city council selfies.

My criteria were stricter than a disgruntled warden. These pictures needed to

A. be taken by or feature a city council member/mayor; or

B. be taken in a council chamber; and

C. be a true selfie — i.e. taken by someone in the picture.

In a few weeks, we will have a municipal selfie expert on the podcast to help me judge the best city hall art! That being said, here are my top 10:

10. Springfield, IL

The layers here are incredible: while a reporter takes a selfie, another audience member takes a picture of the city council taking a selfie. Please tell me there’s a fourth cell phone somewhere so that the selfie chain can be even longer.

9. Westwood, KS

Ah yes, the power pose. While I think the intended vibe is “tough but fair,” it would also be appropriate to have a speech bubble reading, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

8. Jefferson City, MO

It appears that Jeff City’s mayor, Carrie Tergin, stepped away from the council meeting–only to be replaced by a cardboard cutout wearing eclipse glasses! (My sources tell me the cutout also runs a helluva council meeting.) I love the spectrum of emotions from council members; they range from “meh” to “I AM HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE!”

7. Columbia, SC

There were oodles of voyeuristic pictures featuring people in the process of taking selfies. I like this one for two reasons: first, Columbia has set up their selfie station in advance–major points there. And second, this proves that you can have a good selfie or you can have a good portrait, but it’s hard to have a good portrait of a selfie.

6. Dallas, TX

Dallas lands a spot on the list thanks to this fellow gunning it through the city council selfie loophole. Not only is it ingenious to have a chart of all council members’ faces, but do you see that flamingo shirt?! Memorable for sure.

5. Franklin, TN

Hats galore! Witches in the back, viking in the front, and the mayor in a top hat inside the council chamber.  There aren’t nearly enough props in city government, so nice job raiding the costume store.

4. Madison, WI

Uh, paging all art museums: who wants this masterpiece on their wall?! Seriously, what a trippy and visionary take on a selfie by Alder Maurice Cheeks! I’m getting a bit nauseous, but part of me wants to put on some sitar music and ponder the circular nature of life.

3. Yuma, CO

I love a selfie with a story. What a heartwarming cosmic coincidence for this Yuma councilwoman!

2. Gaithersburg, MD

Gaithersburg had all hands on deck. Council Member Ryan Spiegel covered the outside perimeter, Council Member Neil Harris staked out the inside, and Mayor Jud Ashman took the extreeeeeeeeeeeme eastern part of Gaithersburg: Europe! Good teamwork, gentlemen.

1. Ocean City, MD

“OH, FOR GOD’S SAKE. WHY DIDN’T WE THINK TO USE THE HORSE?!” That’s what I imagine every media person in local government is saying this morning as they bang their head on a desk. Seriously, hats and helmets WAY off to Ocean City for setting next year’s bar at “getting a horse into a council chamber.”

Interview #40: Gaithersburg, MD Council Member Ryan Spiegel (with podcast)

This podcast interview is available on iTunesStitcherPlayer FM, and right here:

In addition to being a part-time chicken daddy, Ryan Spiegel was ensnared in the infamous “city council walkout” of 2016. How did he respond? Take a listen!

Q: Something special happened to you guys: you got a new council member recently. There was a vacancy late last year and you, the council, got to appoint someone. How much of your decision was whether you could get along with that person at a council meeting?

A: That’s a big piece of it. There are, I’m sure, many councils you’ve covered that have been a bit more adversarial. Pretty much all of the candidates who applied for that opening are people who we could get along with.

Q: Yeah, you actually did that prior to this with Council Member Neil Harris. So you’ve got two people on the council who you personally had a say in appointing–

A: That’s right. And I won’t let them forget it!

Q: [Laughs] Let’s get into the tough issues: roosters. You were on the city council in 2010 when Gaithersburg banned roosters. Tell me what those meetings were like and please do use fowl language.

A: Well, look, I’m not going to squawk about something–

Q: Nice, nice.

A: And you can claw my eyes out–

Q: Boom!

A: One of the feathers in my cap has been my ability to listen to the public. Of all the controversial things we’ve dealt with, the ONE public hearing that had by FAR the largest attendance was about our chicken ordinance. Roosters can be loud, so we thought it was reasonable to ban roosters but to allow hens.

Q: Mmhmm.

A: We had cub scouts showing up with pictures of their little pet hen saying, “make sure our hens have a safe place in Gaithersburg!” When I was voting back in 2010, I had no idea that I would be one of the people who would have chickens in his own backyard. A few years ago, my wife found a company called Rent a Coop and surprised me by renting a little portable coop and two hens for the summer!

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Gaithersburg, MD Council Member Ryan Spiegel

Q: December 19, 2016. The city council was deciding whether to annex a parcel of land for development. It’s pretty mundane. But there was one vacant council seat and you were out sick, leaving three voting members. Council Member Robert Wu wanted to wait until a new council member was sworn in to vote. Your thoughts?

A: [The annexation] wasn’t exactly the most controversial thing in the world. It had been vetted, there had been public hearings….the charter allows us to have a vote of 2-1.

Q: Wu dropped this bombshell: he walked out of the meeting, taking away the quorum. You were watching at home–did you think you were delirious?

A: I was surprised that he got up and left. I think he believed he was doing something right. He was making some grand gesture. But I strongly disagree with the tactics.

Q: You texted the mayor, “I’m on my way.” You drove down, not so you could vote (due to a conflict of interest), but to have the quorum so the other two council members could vote. Did you want to be the hero?

A: No! There wasn’t a lot of strategizing here. It’s important for us to be doing the business of the city.


Follow Council Member Ryan Spiegel on Twitter: @RySpiegel