#136: Berkley, MI 10/16/17

No sooner had the cameras turned on than Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baker made an aggressive opening bid.

“I’d like to suggest that we move the ‘communications’ before the closed session. So that as we move into closed session, we can just adjourn–” he gazed to the audience with hands outstretched “–without holding these folks here all night.”

Multiple council members simultaneously assented. “Seconded by several people all at the same time,” Mayor Phil O’Dwyer observed dryly.

Speaking of the audience, a substantial number of chairs were filled–and for good reason. Tonight, there was a LOT the good people of Berkley needed to get off their chests and on the record.

“I’m a physician. I come today not with my physician hat on,” a balding man with glasses but no hat whatsoever introduced himself, “but my president’s hat for the Berkley Rotary Club. Every year we have an annual pancake breakfast.”

He brandished a colorful poster. “I’m leaving some flyers. I did not bring any tickets to sell.”

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Yum.

However, I quickly realized what he was “selling” was indeed not pancakes, but rather the very existence of the Rotary itself.

“I’m concerned that our club may be going away,” the man frowned and looked from face to face. “We normally have about 25 members. Every year it’s been dwindling. People move. People retire. People die.”

A woman behind him stroked her chin. A man in a white moustache looked stricken. The speaker continued:

“We’re down to six members, which is a pretty sad state. In the past from Berkley, we’ve had city managers, we’ve had police chiefs, we’ve had librarians. We really have no members representing the city.”

He stood rigidly and delivered the heartbreaking news directly at the mayor. “If we don’t have a successful pancake breakfast, the six members are going to go away. So I’m pleading with the city that we can get some representation in our club.”

Whoa. Normally, people come in to ask city councils for money or services. In this case, he just needs somebody–anybody–to show up. This isn’t some obscure quilting club; it’s the Rotary. If it falls, who will look after the city? The Neighborhood Garden Coalition?

I don’t think so, mayor.

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His message of “our death will be on your hands” isn’t exactly an uplifting call to action.

Whatever the fate of Rotary, his cry for help resonated with the next commenter–the man with the moustache–who was listening closely.

“Proud citizen of Berkley,” was his gruff identification. “We need more citizens to step up. Volunteer. Such as the Rotary Club. The Parade Committee. The Beautification Committee.”

He kept it to all of 30 seconds. “Step up and help. Thank you.”

As if some invisible composer had orchestrated the whole thing, the next woman was spearheading the aforementioned Holiday Parade Committee. And I’ll give you one guess at what the Committee needs:

“Like everybody else, we’re looking for volunteers to help us on our parade staff,” she announced. “We would like to extend an invitation to our mayor and city council when Santa Claus will be given the key to the city.”

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Who needs keys when you use chimneys?

“You are assuring us tonight,” interjected Mayor O’Dwyer in his authentic Irish brogue, “that Santa Claus will be there?”

“Absolutely,” she nodded solemnly. “We’ve gotten word from the North Pole that he will be coming down Twelve Mile and he’ll be greeting all the little children–and adults.”

Have him stop by the Rotary afterward!

#12: Washington City, UT 4/27/16

Huge turnout at tiny Washington City’s council meeting! The good people of southwestern Utah filled the bleachers for one reason: the swearing in of their rugged new fire captain.

“I solemnly swear that I will support, obey, and defend the laws and ordinances of Washington City,” this hunky hero vowed.

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What a crowd!

A standing ovation erupted in the audience! Huzzahs flowed freely! And then…they all left. No doubt to serenade the town’s new beefcake with champagne and concubines. Speaking of which:

“Last Saturday we had our annual princess contest,” Mayor Ken Neilson reminded everyone. “Our princesses are currently helping out with the rodeo so they’re not able to be here.”

The celebrations kept on comin’: “On the 7th, annually we do a breakfast for the Iron Man as they come through Washington. I invite ya’ll to come help me flip some pancakes,” the mayor/chef announced.

“We better go get some candy,” a voice mumbled. “We gotta bribe the kids to like us somehow.”

“Denise can get some for you!” the mayor blurted, volunteering Denise for sugar duty.

Apparently, the city council had morphed into the party planning committee, for Councilwoman Kolene Granger had grandiose plans of Caligula-like proportions.

“I know that that they want to come and visit the council again,” she said of Dixie State University–the fightin’ Trailblazers. “I think we ought to get hats of some sort. In deference to the Rebels, the colors are gray, blue, and red.”

(Ah, yes. This year, Dixie State became the Trailblazers. They used to be the Rebels, but changed it because of cough, slavery, cough. Old mascot: racist Confederate soldier. New mascot: friendly bison!)

“I’m suggesting that we perhaps buy one of the bison and get it decorated and perhaps put city logos or city calendars on it. They’re fiberglass but kids can sit on them and we can color them the way we want,” Councilwoman Granger mused.

“I’ll put one in my front yard,” Councilman Troy Belliston chuckled. Send me one too, councilman. It’ll look great next my confederate general statue.

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Yes, who could forget the Civil War’s many bloody battles in Southwest Utah

Finally, the council had a meaty piece of business to chew on: the owner of 141 South Main Street wanted to weasel out of building a new sidewalk and gutter. Technically, the pesky rules say he has to. But no one else around him is doing it, sooooo…

“It’s gonna be sticking out there like a sore thumb,” the man sighed.

“I don’t have a problem waiving it today. But at the same time I worry because we’ve kind of waived so many that we’ve never started” building the danged gutters, Councilman Thad Seegmiller fretted.

“I agree,” the man countered with reverse-psychology jujitsu. “I have nothing against the curb and gutter. If you folks choose to have me put it in, I’ll put it in.”

Councilman Seegmiller folded like a lawn chair. “Well, mayor, I would like to see us get curb and gutter downtown, but there’s nobody with curb and gutter on his entire block.”

The honorable mayor agreed. “Don’t mess up the ditch!” he hollered. They voted to waive the curb and gutter.

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“Get your minds out of the gutter–specifically, my gutter.”

Final thoughts: With a new fire captain on duty, the council meeting was definitely not a barnburner.  I give this meeting 3 out of 5 fiberglass bison.