Dear new City Council -- I will be responsilbe for my fireplace and shopping bags. You be responsible for a balanced budget & basic city services. Now, some satire from the "old days" of nanny gov:
Welcome to “City Council Knows Best,” a new reality show where each week, neighbor is pitted against neighbor in pitched political battle over issues that might have been easily resolved had the neighbors talked to each other first.
Episode one involves a presentation to the city council by members of the newly created Fruit and Nuts Commission. Seems the commission has worked up a proposed ordinance based on a citizen’s complaint by neighbor Bert about his across the back fence neighbor Ernie. Seems neighbor Ernie pruned his fig tree, so the tree limbs no longer hang over the back fence, which means no more free figs are falling into neighbor Bert’s yard.
In case you missed it, here’s what happened next in episode one of “City Council Knows Best.”
Enraged neighbor Bert sat down at his computer and blasted a message to the blog-0-sphere: “My figs have been cut off! And my neighbor did it without asking me or even filing so much as a Mitigated Negative Declaration of Environmental Impact. Next thing you know my walnuts will be cut off.”
Of course with quotable quotes like that, it wasn’t long before the newspapers (both print and online) picked-up the story. Cub reporters as well as grizzled veterans love low hanging fruit.
And since the papers picked it up, the city council felt compelled to get involved.
Once they stepped into the limelight on this issue, they were immediately at a loss about what to do. Now at this point the council could have asked neighbors Bert and Ernie to talk to each other and work something out – perhaps a neighborhood fruit and nut sharing agreement. But where’s the political drama in that?
Luckily for reality show viewers, the council did what they always do when they are at a loss about what to do. They formed a commission – in this case the Fruit and Nuts Commission – to study the problem and come back with recommendations. Of course the citizen’s selected to serve on this commission needed staff support, so a new city fruit and nuts coordinator was hired – a plum job with substantial salary and benefits, including a generous safety officer pension of up-to-90% at as early as age 50, matching what police and firefighters get. Trees are dangerous, you know, not to mention the risk of getting caught in the crossfire between feuding neighbors.
In the mean time, Bert and Ernie talked to each other and to their other neighbors and agreed to share the produce from each other's yards, no matter where the fruits of their labor landed. Thus the original problem was solved.
However, by this time the city’s Fruit and Nuts Commission had become a city-wide program with a political constituency set in perpetual motion by city council edict. Only problem was the commission no longer had a problem to solve. But no one on the council wanted to take on this constituency and abolish the mission-less commission.
One councilmember went further and tried to curry support for the commission (and cost of providing the commission with staff at city expense) by saying, “You know we’re not just talking figs and peaches here. This commission is nuts.”
“Besides,” chimed in another councilmember, “I’m not worried about the commission not having a problem to solve. Problems are easy to create. The council creates six problems every Tuesday evening before midnight.”
And so the first episode “City Council Knows Best” draws to a close.
Next week on reality TV, the Fruit and Nuts Commission discovers fruit and nut trees also produce wood that can be dried and used in fireplaces and woodstoves for cheery holiday décor and home heating. Even worse, they discover that twigs and leaves may be piled in the street for up to a week during pruning season. The commission decides the only way to deal with all this excess frivolity, frugality and the inherent messiness of life is to propose an ordinance banning fruit and nut trees.
The council attempts to act on the recommendation after debate lasting well into the wee hours. Later, Friends of Fruit-Tree Firewood attempt to impeach the council. Fruit and nut issues consume all the council’s time, leaving no time for more pressing city business like providing basic city services and avoiding bankruptcy. Once again the city finds itself in a homemade jam.
Be sure to tune in for next week for episode two of reality TV’s “City Council Knows Best.”
BIO: Clay Brandow is a hydrologist and wannabe writer, who finds life in Davis, California, freestone peachy. The two questions he is most often asked are: “Are you the guy that writes the letters to the editor of the Davis Enterprise?” and “Are you nuts?”