It’s a new year, so we have a new installment of the “Best Thing, Worst Thing” project. Wow, another episode AND Betty White is still alive?! This year isn’t so bad after all! For an explanation of the project, check out the page here. If you like storytelling and municipal lore, consider this your birthday present.
If you’ve got the kids in bed and the bottle of gin opened, head over to the City Council Chronicles podcast and download the latest episode. Or you can play it below.
Episode 3: Rockville, Maryland
Photo source: City of Raymore
Rockville is 16 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. in Montgomery County, Maryland. The population is 64,000. It is the oldest community in this series–first settled around 1750. As the federal government expanded for each world war, the population of Rockville also grew because those workers wanted to live in a closeby suburb. The city is fairly ethnically diverse, with a large number of foreign-born residents. Rockville Town Square is a downtown commercial and retail hub–with an ice skating rink! In this episode, we hear from a political staffer, a scientist, an economic development specialist, and a college student.
“Gentlemen,” began the mustachioed public commenter in the Oswego council chamber, “I want you to know that I’ve taken a survey through this town…what?”
One councilor muttered something off-mic.
“What did I say?” the man stared blankly.
“She’s not a gentleman,” said the voice, indicating the presence of Councilor Caitlin Reynolds.
The citizen commenter smoothly bowed and issued an extended mea culpa.
“Gentlewoman! I apologize. I’m old school. Let me get on my hands and knees for this–” He pivoted to the onlookers and held up a palm. “I apologize to all you female people.”
He was buttering up the crowd for something. I could tell by his suave demeanor and the way his t-shirt was tucked into his khakis that he was about to rip someone a new butthole.
“I took a poll here this past two weeks. It’s been–” terrible? people are furious? “–very good feedback. Very good. You people know what Standard & Poor’s is? It’s the stock market guys who grade the credit rating. This city, this council, this mayor is at QUADRUPLE A! Nobody’s complaining! They LOVE what you’re doing.”
Wow, that’s incredible! Leaving aside the fact that Quadruple A doesn’t exist, it’s truly amazing when there are ZERO complaints about ANYTH–oh, sorry, you had one more thing to say?
“One more thing, Mr. Mayor,” the man added Columbo-style, scanning the room behind him. “I see that he’s not here tonight….I would like to dismiss the fire chief, okay? It’s time for him to go. They don’t like him anymore. GET RID OF HIM. He is BEYOND BELIEF a scumbag, okay?”
Jesus. Talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. How did we go from “nobody’s complaining” to “heads must roll?”
“And I’m sorry if that’s too direct,” the man said, not nearly as contrite as when he called ladypeople men earlier, “and if that’s personal, that’s too bad because he’s called ME a couple names in his lifetime, too. Thank you.”
Mayor William Barlow, Jr. propped himself on one elbow with his finger almost touching his eyeball. “Thank you,” he muttered.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, all of a sudden, in marched the Grinch.
“I don’t want people to think that I’m against holiday tree lighting ceremonies,” began Councilor Robert Corradino innocently enough, “BUT we’re going to be spending about $6,000 for a temporary ice skating rink that uses a synthetic surface.”
His Grinchitude tapped his fingers. “I just feel that with all the other expenses we have, it’s a lot of money. I don’t say it’s NOT a good idea, but for ten hours on one day?”
Councilor John Gosek, a.k.a. Second Field Lieutenant in Oswego’s War on Christmas, piled on. “I don’t know how I can justify this to my constituents. We have several skating rinks available in the city we can perhaps use.”
Rushing to Christmas’s defense was pro-skating rink Councilor Nathan Emmons. “It’s not only ‘take, take, take’ money from our residents, but we turn around and provide ENJOYMENT within our community! I think there’s a lot of value in that.”
With that, the council’s hearts grew three sizes–they voted unanimously for the skating rink. Councilor Emmons saved Christmas!