It was the sort of meeting that makes you appreciate small town democracy.
But, that’s you, Dear Readers. It was the sort of meeting that makes Your Gilbert wish for a dictatorship where decisions are quick, concise and often deadly.
Mayor Bruce Williams saw what was coming. He got sick and went home. Very convenient!
A startled mayor pro tem (the person who takes over when the mayor escapes) Reuben Snipper rose to the occasion, running (mayoring?) the rest of the meeting.
The remaining council and staff went a-parsing. They parsed the bejesus out of two items before them: a new contract for the city manager and a proposed amendment to housing code concerning “Landlord Entry. ”
Don’t glaze over, Dear Readers, we’ll make this as interesting as we can.
Revving up their motorcycles, the councilmembers roared around the room perimeter, gaining speed until they had enough centrifugal force to tip sideways and drive on the walls, recently rounded for the purpose. Over the din, Terry Seamens asked that the city manager’s proposed contract be removed from the consent agenda. The consent agenda is usually a bundle of no-brainer items that are expected to pass with no discussion or objection. This is to save time. Your Gilbert utters a hollow, ironic laugh.
Driving with no hands, Seamens shouted that he was perplexed by a section of the proposed contract. The previous contract was a five year agreement calling for the council to “meet and confer” by January 2009 to decide whether to offer another contract, “the duration to be jointly determined.”
Seamen’s bike began sputtering and wobbling. Seamens and the other councilmembers leapt free as their bikes collided and crashed into the center of the room and caught fire. Beating the flames with his coat, Seamens pointed out as an aside that the “meet and confer” session had not taken place, ahem, ahem.
Seamens had no objection to the “continuing basis” of the new contract terms, but he thought it should include some sort of regular “meet and confer” with the sole object of deciding whether to continue the contract or not. The council holds an annual review of the city manager, but Seamens felt that was not specific enough.
Bravely keeping their noses to the documents, the councilmembers fled the room, parsing the wording as they went. Councilmember Colleen Clay, doing a triple cartwheel out the door, dismissed Seamen’s concerns. She was confident the contract was adequate. Jogging behind her, councilmember Dan Robinson said he on the other hand would like the “meet and confer” language in the new contract. As they tumbled into the hall, councilmembers Josh Wright and Fred Schultz said they were willing to table the contract pending clarification. Seamens’ tabling motion passed 4 to 2, Snipper and Clay voting against.
As smoke filled the community center and ninjas rappelled down dangling ropes around them, the council ran outside – right into an evil-smelling bog of quicksand. It was the dreaded Pit of Landlord Entry.
The proposed “landlord entry” revision to the housing code seeks to protect tenants by requiring landlords to give written notice 48 hours prior to entry of their rental unit for repairs or maintenance.
Sinking up to their chins, the council agreed the provision made sense for maintenance such as painting, but they thought it would be a hindrance in the case of an emergency repair such as a plumbing leak. This was the second time the provision had come before them (first time was Oct. 19, 2009), so they were a little annoyed that it needed still more revision. At one point Reuben Snipper, grabbing a dangling vine and pulling himself out of the goop, said that the original wording was better.
As Snipper pulled each of them out of the bog and tracer bullets began zinging overhead, the other councilmembers picked the paragraph apart, suggested alternative wording, then picked each other’s suggestions apart. The ideas were flying as thick as snow in a blizzard, and some were just as flakey. Councilmember Fred Schultz got a little cranky that he couldn’t get a word in. The housing department staff, looking as miserable as wet cats, sat through it all, but held fast to their contention that even in an emergency situation, written notice should be required because if a dispute arose, documentation would be necessary to resolve it.
Firing his rocket launcher into the hovering black helicopter, Schultz finally got to speak. He made the utterly sensible suggestion that the landlords carry waiver forms for tenants of sign if they need emergency access. Note to council – next time let Schultz speak first.
As it crashed onto a gasoline tanker-truck on East-West Highway, the helicopter ignited a gigantic explosion and fireball, so the council ended the discussion, sending the housing dept. staff slinking back to their office to do another rewrite.
And you missed all that action ’cause you (and the Mayor) were watching the boring old Olympics! Tsk!