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.
Mayor Jim Throgmorton couldn’t avoid it. He had to address it. And within the first minute, he joined thousands of other mayors at council meetings across the country in saying:
“I want to express our profound shock and grief about the mass shooting that took place in Las Vegas.”
He frowned deeply. “Will this sequence of mass killings never end?”
After ordering a minute of silence, the mayor looked up, attempting to lighten the mood.
“Sometimes transitions can be very awkward,” he acknowledged with an avuncular grin. “We have two proclamations.”
Now, if the first proclamation were for “Clowns and Balloon Animal Appreciation Week,” it might have indeed been an awkward transition. But in reality, the segue was far more muted from gun horrors to…Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“How do you move forward when the one place you are supposed to be safe is no longer?” a woman stood at the lectern and gave a heartfelt acceptance speech for the proclamation. “When everything about your life has been controlled in every way?”
Because Columbus Day was fast approaching, the next proclamation naturally declared–well, not what you’d expect for Iowa:
“Iowa City is built on the homelands of the indigenous peoples and the city is dedicated to opposing systemic racism,” Mayor Throgmorton read. “The city encourages other businesses, organizations, and institutions to recognize Indigenous People’s Day.”
Being a business, an organization, and an institution, City Council Chronicles will up the ante and declare next week Indigenous People’s WEEK. Ball’s in your court, Iowa City.
Moving on to the student representative from the University of Iowa, he informed the council that “we held our first town hall to figure out what topics they had on their minds. The topic was voted on via Twitter poll–we’re millennials, how else would we do things?” he took a small dig at his generation.
He added, in the college spirit: “real quick shameless plug for my fraternity’s philanthropy. We are hosting a 0.1K on October 15.”
Several people giggled at the premise, but he continued wryly. “I understand that’s a far distance and y’all aren’t trained for it. We’ll have a watering hole at the halfway mark.”
“Do you think it’s gonna take that long to run it?” quizzed Council Member Susan Mims facetiously.
“It might,” the student deadpanned, prompting chuckles.
The mayor sat up as he remembered something. “Hey Ben, I’d like to note that on November 28, I’m going to be visiting with student government.”
“You will!” Ben agreed.
“Yeah. I’m looking forward to that.” His brow furrowed and he raised his voice. “BUT IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!”
“We’ll have a cupcake for you,” Ben insisted. “Do you prefer Molly’s [Cupcakes] or Scratch [Cupcakery]?”
“Molly’s,” hissed several council members and folks in the audience. The mayor was forced to acquiesce to the seething mob.
“The Englert [Theater] has done it again,” Council Member Terry Dickens informed his colleagues breathlessly. “They’re bringing Arlo Guthrie! It’s pretty exciting that we get somebody of that quality here.”
“Terry?” Mayor Throgmorton leaned in and cheekily made reference to a Guthrie song, “where can you get everything you want?”
Dickens didn’t miss a beat. “The Englert!”
The mayor was disappointed his joke didn’t land. “No! You can get everything you want–”
“One of his great songs, yes,” Dickens nodded without taking the bait.
Final thoughts: For the record, the answer is “Alice’s Restaurant.”