#169: Van Buren, AR 9/24/18

Mayor Bob Freeman swung around to the front of the council dais and glanced down at his notes momentarily before turning to the two women at his side.

“In July of this year–make sure I’ve got this correct,” he instructed them, “–in July of this year, y’all had gone to a movie?”

“Yes,” replied each woman in turn.

“When you came outside, you noticed there was a gentleman–or, you noticed there was a truck that the engine was revving?” the mayor continued.

“Yes, sir.”


“So you went to the truck–”

“We actually went around the truck,” one woman jumped in to steer the story in the correct direction. “I looked over because it was revving up so much. The gentleman had slumped over and I knocked on the window trying to see if he could hear me. He was unresponsive.”

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She indicated to the good Samaritan next to her. “I had her go get somebody to help. I went around to the driver’s side. Luckily it was unlocked. I pulled him out. She helped me with CPR.”

“You applied CPR,” Mayor Freeman picked up again now that the details were ironed out. “Revived him. Between your actions, you saved his life.”

After the photos and as the mayor plopped down in his seat, he remembered one other brave soul in the room.

“Alderman Swaim had knee replacement one week ago today and he’s here tonight. That’s why he did not stand for our pledge and we’ll say that’s okay!”

Alderman Alan Swaim raised a ringer and quipped: “I did not kneel either!”

That prompted a huge laugh from the room–perhaps from the topical humor and perhaps a window into Swaim’s own views on kneelers.

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Truly presidential

There was something eating at Mayor Freeman. He started off inauspiciously enough by describing a meeting with the county sheriff’s department.

“Last Monday night, [I] went to the Facilities Commmitee meeting because they were discussing the rates that they charge municipal governments for inmates,” he explained. “Our rate has been $10 a meal. We haven’t actually paid $10 a meal until the last year and a half because we haven’t had inmates in the jail.”

He continued, “they are looking at raising that rate. I asked for an opportunity to see the numbers. We sat there through the committee meeting and we left and were later informed that they had gone ahead with an ordinance to raise the rate to $50 a day.”

The mayor frowned deeply. “What disappoints me is the fact that I asked to see the number and that was just ignored. There’s a piece of me that feels I’m being taken advantage of because I am a lame duck. ‘We can do it because the mayor’s leaving anyway.'”

“I’m not!” piped up Alderman Jim Petty to reassure the mayor whose team he was on.

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Stick together!

After Mayor Freeman had vented, it reminded Alderman Darral Sparkman of something.

“Chief, I just wish you’d tell your officers–those deputies or whoever it is run up and down this highway do not turn on their lights, and they drive at light speed!” he railed. “We have been hit nearly three times!”

“Are you talking about our officers?” Mayor Freeman quizzed.

“No, the sheriff!” Sparkman exclaimed. “These guys never turn the lights on!”

It seems like the bad blood with the sheriff’s office runs deep in Van Buren. Let’s hope they clean up their act in time for the next mayor.


#155: Richfield, MN 3/27/18

When the sheriff shows up in cowboy movies, it’s a sure sign the bad guy is going down.

“To make sure he got here in time, [he] hustled the vice president out of town so he wouldn’t be late,” joked Richfield Mayor Pat Elliott, welcoming the top cop to apparently the second-most important event of his day.

The sheriff stared down his nemesis: a slide show on the computer. “Which do you think it is? Arrow to the right?” he mused aloud. “Up-down?”

Everyone waited patiently while he solved the mystery of the puzzling PowerPoint. “Help,” the lawman murmured, proving that sometimes even heroes need heroes.

I believe in you.

Finally he got the hang of it and opened with a bit of trivia.

“I will not ask you, Mr. Mayor, what are the names of the three rivers that flow through Hennepin County. But I know you know the Crow, the Mississippi, and–what’s that last one?” he stumped himself.

“Minnesota,” Mayor Elliott replied, acing the rivers pop quiz.

But between those rivers lay a festering problem, and the sheriff turned on the rhetorical lights and sirens for his nearly 200 opioid overdoses.

“If I had 162 homicides in Hennepin County last year, I’d bet that it’d be in the front page of the Star Tribune or on the 4, 5, 9, 10, 11–all news channels in between. But it’s not.”

As frustrated as he was by the drug deaths, the sheriff was also irritated at himself for the crime of third-degree long-windedness.

“I promised you, Mr. Mayor and council members, eight to ten minutes. I took eight minutes and 35 seconds. I went a little bit over.”

As he surrendered the lectern, Mayor Elliott welcomed a former mayor who had since risen to the ranks of the elite.

“Commissioner [Debbie] Goettel, it is good to see you! You’re back in your stomping grounds,” he gushed. “I hope you have some words of wisdom for us yourself.”

“There are some pretty startling facts that he didn’t share with you,” she countered, dodging any happy wisdom and instead beelining to the opioid wisdom.

“They are disproportionately affecting our younger folks. Anywhere from the age of 15 to about 45.”

After waiting a beat to digest the news, Council Member Edwina Garcia confessed, “we still miss you.”

“I beg your pardon!” exclaimed the current occupant of the mayor’s seat.

Mayor brawl!

“I mean we,” Garcia quickly clarified, referring to the royal “we.” “Not necessarily sitting right here,” she jabbed at the mayor.

I don’t know who would win in the battle of the mayors. But I will admit: the high point of the meeting was when Mayor Elliott revealed the catchy slogan for “council member announcements.”

“On to ‘Hats Off to Hometown Hits,’” he said.

In his Hometown Hit, the mayor offered the most striking analogy of the day. “Anytime you get a special verdict form that comes back that’s in your favor–this is gonna sound a little strange,” he admitted, holding up an official document. “But when I get one like this, it’s akin to the birth of a child. We got one this past week.”

Boy or girl?

But Council Member Maria Regan Gonzalez used her Hometown Hit to once again ground her colleagues. “This morning we met with our congressman, Congressman Ellison. The opioid crisis, we did talk about that.”

Well, I think we know what Richfield Public Enemy Number One is. Citizens, let’s run these opioids out of town like they are the vice president.

#15: Danville, VA 5/5/16

Danville may not be the biggest city. Or the best city. Or even the best city named Danville (it’s Danville, California, obvi). But it has one thing that other cities do not:

The most annoyingly-cheerful sons-of-b’s on city council.

Mayor Sherman Saunders rose with a proclamation for the 50th anniversary of the city’s Goodyear plant. “Whereas the Goodyear tire and rubber company broke ground in DANVILLE,” he said, practically shouting the city name. “And whereas Goodyear DANVILLE is DANVILLE’s largest employer–” at this point, the two representatives from Goodyear were suppressing laughter as the Honorable Mayor bellowed “Danville” every other sentence.

“I, Sherman M. Saunders, mayor, city of DANVILLE do hereby commend Goodyear DANVILLE on its 50th anniversary in DANVILLE, Virginia.” He glanced at the room with a kingly defiance.

“Yeah, I’m proud to say ‘DANVILLE.’ That’s right!”

Don’t tell Mayor Sherman Saunders that someone didn’t put “DANVILLE” in all caps

“Thank you, and we look forward to another 50 years of good service in Danville,” the company’s representatives responded, opting not to scream the city name. It didn’t matter–there was already a huge lovefest for Goodyear in the crowd.

“I worked at Goodyear and I built on the U2s,” the mayor reminisced.

“I also worked at Goodyear,” boasted Councilman James Buckner.

“Goodyear is Danville and Danville is Goodyear,” Councilman  J. Lee Vogler, the resident poet, freestyled.

Next, the sheriff came forward to talk about the first annual Youth Day on Saturday–complete with music, a basketball free throw competition, and hundred-yard dash.

“Do you have something for [people] over 65?” Councilman John Gilstrap cheekily inquired.

“Serving hot dogs,” the sheriff retorted.

Gilstrap chuckled. “I can do that!”

The council, looking jazzed about Youth Day

Youth Day wasn’t the only big ticket item in town–and not even the only one featuring wieners: “The community market opens this Saturday,” Councilman Buckner reported. “Make sure you stop by at the time I’m working because I’m gonna make hands down the best hot dogs.”

Vice-Mayor Gary Miller called bullsh*t: “Mr. Buckner may think he makes the best hot dogs, but I’m gonna produce the healthiest ones. I’m gonna have turkey dogs,” he bragged, to groans from the council. “That are healthy for you.”

“There goes my appetite,” the mayor gagged. It sounds like the vice-mayor will have plenty of leftovers. Thanksgiving dinner at the Miller house? Turkey hot dogs.

Would you eat a turkey hot dog from this man?

Before the meeting adjourned, Mayor Saunders flipped on his mic, leaned back, and speechified like a Sunday preacher. “I want to thank the voters who reelected me just a few days ago. I maintain–you’re gonna hear it four more years–DANVILLE is a great city.

“Yes, we do have issues to work on and we are working on them. But the minute number of people who are causing these negative issues….they will be caught and they WILL be stopped.”

The mayor was all worked up and now spitting pure verse.

“There is no despair here in DANVILLE. Thank you for electing us.

“Thank you for supporting us.

“Thank you for believing in us.

“And thank you for being a part of the great city…of DANVILLE, VIRGINIA.”

Final thoughts: I loved this meeting as much as Mayor Saunders loves screaming theword “DANVILLE.” I give it 8/10 turkey hot dogs.

UPDATE: 11:33 a.m. THIS GUY!