Running from Local Office
You can learn much about a city by counting the number of people campaigning for local government offices. The greater the percentage of candidates to residents, the newer the community and lower the median level of awareness.
Holding an elected or appointed city position equates to serving an honorable duty for which volunteers are handsomely repaid by loss of friendships, leisure activities, and brain cells. Public service either forces them to imbibe or, by the end of their terms, it renders them insane.
First, incumbents are required to know Robert’s Rules of Order, a set of parliamentary procedures that often are referenced yet rarely followed. Army Brigadier General Henry Robert, who supervised the engineering of parts of the Great Lakes, wrote “The Rules” after having failed to successfully chair a gathering at his local Baptist church. Enough said.
City government meetings are best described as public assemblies wherein many motions, though few advances, are made. Perhaps that’s why someone thought it advisable to appoint a humorist like myself to a city planning and zoning commission. I served a two-year term, which provided the community new reasons to laugh at their local leaders.
While on public watch I deliberated over important issues, such as revisions to our city’s fence ordinance and changes to subdivision regulations for driveway construction. Valliant efforts were undertaken during these planning and zoning meetings. I can truthfully report that not once (despite overwhelming urges) did I ever (even after both audience members had nodded off) lose consciousness.
Our commission determined that wood slats, stone masonry, and wrought iron were suitable fencing materials—and barbed wire, fiberglass panels, and mobile home skirting were not. Furthermore, we concluded that every home should have a driveway, and some of them could be shaped like a “J.” (Previously, this consonant had been stigmatized and discriminated against.) These decisions were forwarded to the city council for final approval, which, I’m proud to say, was obtained without triggering a weekend work session in Las Vegas.
When a city council makes a decision (i.e., when an agenda item can no longer be reschedule), authorization for action is issued by a resolution, a document that reads something like this:
WHEREAS, nobody at City Hall has a clue as to what might be the current zoning for XYZ Property; and,
WHEREAS, the owner of XYZ Property (“Owner”) stands to make a killing if XYZ Property is zoned for use as a concrete batch plant; and,
WHEREAS, Owner agrees to dedicate 1/100 of said property to the City if The Property is rezoned for use as a concrete batch plant; and,
WHEREAS, the City needs the said 1/100 of The Property to correct the misalignment of a roadway that recently sent a car careening into a local dwelling; therefore, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that XYZ Property shall be zoned for use as a concrete batch plant.
I can no longer serve on city boards or commissions. It appears that I lack the sufficient mindset.