What’s this? Another installment of the semi-regular “Best Thing, Worst Thing” podcast series? Why, I do believe it is! For an explanation of the project, check out the page here. If you like storytelling and municipal lore, I think you’ll enjoy what the cat dragged in.
If you’ve got the kids already gathered around the fireplace, head over to the City Council Chronicles podcast and download the latest episode. Or you can play it below.
Episode 2: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Photo source: Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce
Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming, population 63,000. It is located in the southeast corner of the state just eight miles from the Colorado border. It exists thanks to the builders of the Transcontinental Railroad. Downtown is fairly compact, with the capitol building at the north end and the historic train station at the south. Government buildings are prevalent and some of the historic homes are quite nice. Although it is the largest city in Wyoming, the population has risen slowly and steadily. In this episode, we hear from a business owner, a firearms instructor, two Chamber of Commerce employees, and a former mayoral candidate.
City council day in Troup, Texas only comes ’round once a month. This tiny outpost of 1,900 people doesn’t need some fancy city hall with desks and microphones and such. They’re perfectly fine with foldin’ tables and the chairs you’d sit on in a high school cafeteria.
Heck, Troup is so easygoing that they’ll do a meeting without two of their five councilmen. Too bad for those guys: Councilman Gary Salyer brought potato chips and he wasn’t shy about passing them around!
The first order of business was for the mayor to approve a change in ambulance services. “I am prepared to sign it right now so you can leave with it,” Mayor Joe Carlyle said to some guy the hospital sent, adding his John Hancock to the note in blazingly fast legislative efficiency.
The man thanked the mayor, announcing that “I’m gonna run over and give Neil some moral support at this other city council” in Henderson. He ran out, leaving the council with an audience of me.
“I’m on a diet. I’m gettin’ 400 calories a day right now,” the mayor groused, sipping a Big Gulp of something-or-other.
“Have one of these,” Councilman Salyer exclaimed, tossing the mayor his bag of chips.
“You drinkin’ all the whiskey you can?” city manager Gene Cottle inquired, jokingly (I think). Note to the council: I will spot you some dough for cushioned chairs and 1,600 more calories for your mayor.
Cranky as he was on his diet, the mayor took to complaining about the trains running through town and backing up traffic. “We’re gonna go and express dire concerns because it’s been about as bad as it’s ever been.”
At this point, everyone in the room raised their hackles about those darn trains.
“Again on Easter Sunday…Couldn’t get across the tracks!…Saturday, and then the Sunday morning…”
They agreed to complain some more and then moved on.
“We have several employees who are celebrating their tenth anniversary with the city in May, ” said the city manager. There could be a little shindig at the next meeting, but…
“I will not be at the May city council meeting,” he admitted.
“If we don’t have any pressing business,” let’s cancel it, said Mayor Carlyle. “Would there have to be a public notice that we’re canceling the meeting?”
“We just have to post it beforehand,” responded the secretary.
“I should be up to 800…900 calories by then,” the mayor mumbled, sipping his cup.
Finally: it seems the mayor’s wife has had some ugly-looking bathwater lately. Probably because the pump on well #2 blew itself up. This was hardly a crisis like the Fire of 1880 that destroyed the city, but still: it’s icky bathwater.
“If you let that water sit, you’ll notice that nothing settles out of that water,” the city manager noted, let’s say…reassuringly?
There was nothing they could do, so the council agreed to add it to the list of things to complain about.
Final thoughts: For a city plagued by tainted water, canceled meetings, and a questionable 400-calorie diet, the mayor showed great poise. I would give this meeting a rating, but sadly a train is blocking me, so oh well.