#107: Lynn, MA 5/23/17

Nothing could have prepared me for the shocking twist in this week’s Lynn city council meeting.

A mild bit of controversy confronted the council right out of the gate: whether to give one convenience store a wine and malt beverage license.

Witnesses rotated to the podium like they were on a carousel, impressively arguing their case in no-nonsense, rapid-fire succession.

“I’ve known the owners at least 60 years. They’re a reputable family,” a man in a tan suit nodded.

“I work in the area and think it would be an improvement. That’s it,” another man grunted.

“I really think we have enough liquor stores,” countered a woman wearing a crucifix around her neck. “I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel.”

“Too close. Very close,” a rival liquor store owner complained with arms crossed.

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Citizens of Lynn are nothing if not excruciatingly direct.

With each side fielding an equally compelling roster of testifiers, what would the council decide?

“This issue has come up a number of times,” a gravelly-voiced Councilor Peter Capano rubbed his eyes. “There’s just very strong neighborhood opposition, so I’d just make a motion to deny this.”

The rest of the council fell into line and unanimously shot down the license.

Council President Darren Cyr shoved his glasses onto his forehead and gazed across the chamber. “Any other business?”

“Motion to adjourn–” one councilor spoke up.

“No. I…no,” muttered Cyr strangely. “I wanna say something.”

From the back of the chamber, a man began speaking out of turn. Cyr instantly grew livid.

“HEY, JEFFREY! QUIET,” he screamed, slamming the gavel against the wooden desk. “IF I HAVE TO SAY IT AGAIN, I’LL ASK YOU TO LEAVE.”

Cyr braced himself on the podium. “As council president, this is probably the toughest moment that I’ve had,” he stared solemly at the ground. “I’m gonna ask Councilor Trahant to make a statement.”

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A statement? I don’t like the sound of this.

He sniffed, then continued in his thick Boston accent. “I’m gonna stand beside him because he’s my brothah. He’s my friend. I’ve known him since I was five years old. I respect him more than I respect any other man.”

Oh, god. What horror is about to befall us? This feels like something out of a mob movie where someone gets 86’ed.

Councilor William Trahant hugged a tearful Cyr.

“Well, this a tough way for me to get up here, but I gotta do what I gotta do,” Trahant nervously gripped the microphone. “As everybody knows, about six months ago I had a pretty bad heart attack. I’ve got a leak into my valve and I need a little more time to rest.”

The room was dead silent as Trahant glanced from face to sympathetic face. “I’m so sad I have to leave. You guys–” he began to cry as Cyr rubbed his back. “You guys did everything for me. You’re like family.”

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😥

Other councilors wiped their eyes. Trahant hung his head and searched for the right words.

“I just gotta get better. And I’m gonna get better. I love you very much.”

He received a standing ovation as he stepped down, hugging everyone on the trek back to his seat.

“May god have his hand on you, Billy,” called out President Cyr over the applause.

“Love you, Billy,” Councilor Brian LaPierre whispered.

Final thoughts: For easily being the saddest meeting I’ve seen, I give Councilor Trahant 10 out of 10 “Get Well Soon” cards.

#80: Moore, OK 1/17/17

I often hear from people around the globe who say, “we don’t want fewer Oklahoma city council meeting reviews. We want Moore.”

Well, my thirsty friends, it’s your lucky day.

The inauguration may be 1,300 miles away, but the Moore city council was twerking to a different type of party.

“Mayor and council, this is our annual renewal of the fireworks contract,” a bespectacled staffer braced himself on the podium. The price tag was steep: $49,500.

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Trivia: this meeting was filmed with the original Zapruder camera.

But, he vouched, “they provide an excellent show. This is our premier event that we do.”

Mayor Glenn Lewis raised his eyebrows out of sticker shock. “How does this compare to how much other cities spend?”

The man cleared his throat. “We’re at or near the top when it comes to fireworks expense. Mayor, we feel that the show we put on–the event really is a great event. We think we get the most bang for our buck.”

Or the biggest boom, as it were. But hey, I report and you decide. This is what $49-large of fireworks looks like:

“And how many people would you say come out?” quizzed Council Member Melissa Hunt.

“We think 20,000-30,000 people view the show,” the staffer guessed. Wow! For comparison, only two cats and a bottle of Colt 45 viewed MY illegal backyard fireworks show.

Council Member Adam Webb was all-in on the pyrotechnics. “I love this event. I don’t feel like Moore has a lot that we’re known for.”

Council Member, don’t be ridiculous! The Moore Oil & Lube and the R&S Gun Supply are some of the finest establishments in the Lower 48! You were saying?

“Last year, I showed the mayor and some other council members chatter on Instagram, Twitter, and social media–people have come to Moore and enjoyed this.”

Mayor Lewis leaned forward to seal the deal. “The show’s always good to me,” he offered. “I remember when they used to pass a bucket to pay for $2,000 worth of firecrackers.”

“That being said–” he winced as heads swiveled and I held my breath, “several people seemed to be upset about it. Is there anybody here that would like to speak on this?”

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“SHOW YOURSELVES, TRAITORS.”

The room was quiet as His Honor scanned the auditorium. The fate of our nation’s birthday was hanging in the balance.

“Okay, if you didn’t show up to complain,” he said with a smirk, “don’t complain anymore.”

Everyone exhaled as the council approved the fireworks show.

But to make the Fourth of July a little more festive, there was one other tiny gift from the village elders to the masses:

“Ordinance number 844-17, establishing a beer and wine license,” the mayor read from his notes.

An employee in a baggy suit explained the highly technical logic. “The licenses the city has now is: one for beer and one for mixed beverages. This would be in between. Restaurants could sell beer AND wine and choose not to pay the higher fee.”

The council swiftly okayed the new license–a great boon to Midwesterners who like their beer like they like their wine: in the same place.

Final thoughts: What this meeting lacked in sizzle, it made up for in patriotism. I give it 8 out of 10 sparkler sticks.