Part 3 Group therapy
These public comments on for an hour and forty five minutes. When over the city council had to discuss the issues presented by these concerned citizens. It is what they are supposed to do. And they did so slowly, and without any emotional conviction. They looked into each issue to determine if there was anything they could do to help. It turns out that Government sponsored child abduction as a repercussion for exercising first amendment rights is not in the purview of city government. Who would have thought? Neither is the city council much help with changing the US constitution. But these were explored at length, seriously. Eventually the Mayor stepped in to move the meeting along. The topic of term limits was virtually ignored, but a great deal of discussion was to be had about dealing with drunken jerks, and high density housing, which this city has in abundance. I believe that these issues are related; maybe being a college town with three major brew pubs within a mile of the campus has something to do with this.
This was when the bewilderment started to set in. I, personally, would not deal with crazy people by giving their delusion credibility; you will only attract more crazy people. Then it dawned on me. Maybe this is what politicians do. Focus on the crazy stuff and the real issues will take care of themselves. Think about the popular issues in national politics, and then think about what the politicians should be talking about. I do have to respect the Mayor; she seemed to provide adult supervision to the whole process. The rest of the city council seemed to be happy exploring everything presented just for the hell of it. It also seemed that they were willing to go on about this all night if necessary. Is there a word for debating for the fun of debating without any purpose?
More than two hours after the meeting started it was time to get down to the business stated on the agenda. At that moment, half the room left the hall and went outside to hand out pamphlets and congratulate each other on doing their civic duty. We stayed to watch my wife’s colleague receive the United Way award.
Lessons learned and why I feel a sense of relief.
I learned that some politicians are willing to indulge in serious discussions on crazy ideas. Hopefully the reason for this is to placate crazy emotional people, rather than active participation in the crazy idea process.
I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Crazy doesn’t have a dress code. At this meeting some of the best dressed people had the most difficulty communicating. They may have had good ideas, but they sounded wacky and impractical.
Speaking of communicating, I had the distinct impression that a lot of the people who choose to speak in front of the city council were uncomfortable with what they were saying. It was like they had some terrific ideas inside their heads, but once the words left their mouth they suddenly regretted it. There seemed to be a lot of “That made more sense in my head” moments.
I also felt a sense of relief at the end of the experience by the fact that nothing of any consequence was really accomplished. However, the people who had complaints seemed to feel a lot better. Maybe the whole purpose of public comments is group therapy.