Monday, March 10, 2014

1302 The Code of Conduct

The story you are about to read is true.  Only the place has been changed to protect the guilty.

(BURGBURG, PA) -- In this small, unshaven central Pennsylvania municipality, things get a bit hot at the meetings of the Governing Council.

So, the burg fathers have proposed a code of conduct for their public meetings.  

You know about public meetings, right?  That’s when people get together and pretend they live in a democracy.  The real stuff happens in what they euphemistically call “executive session.”

That’s where the action is.  Except you never see it.  Then they take it to the public forum where everyone gets to vent and rant and rave and the pre-arranged decision gets made.

Did I mention the code of conduct was going to be optional?

What?

What does that mean?  You can’t lose your temper unless the other side of a debate is really REALLY dumb?  You can’t spit on the floor unless you really REALLY have to?

When you attend meetings you should wear a tuxedo, but it’s optional?  Bib overalls will do as long as you have a white shirt and tie on under it?

Maybe this is a case of “the smaller the municipality, the hotter the tempers.”  Or not. Check out the tantrum rate in Toronto or Taipei.

Burgburg’s mayor is quoted as saying the 20 pages of suggestions will build public confidence in the people elected to run the place.

A lovely thought.  But nowadays the only way people have confidence in a municipal government is when it complies with their every whim.

Give them an “a” for effort.  They recognize they have a problem.  To the best of our knowledge no issue before the council has yet been petty enough to cause fistfights.

And we don’t expect any to arise any time soon.

But that “optional” part remains troubling.  You either have rules or you don’t.

Carry it a bit further.  Say, to the highway.  Speed limit, 55 miles an hour.  Optional. If you’re really REALLY in a hurry, we’ll take 70 or 75.

Or how about state laws:  The age of consent is 18. But it’s optional. If you really REALLY want to, it’s okay.

Or a federal law.  The local radio station here broadcasts at 970 on the dial and it’s illegal for you to put up another on the same frequency that’s too near.  Unless you really really want to.  Conversely, they have a limit to the power of their transmissions.  But one day, they may really REALLY want to reach Baltimore.

Or further still: The US Constitution says you have to do or you can’t do lots of stuff.  Make it optional.  

Shrapnel:
--I am time obsessed, and proud of it. But this raises problems twice a year when we “spring forward” or “fall backward” to or from daylight saving time.  There are so many clocks around here that we don’t always remember to set each of them.  And sometime in mid June we’ll stumble on one of them, and that will be very confusing.

--Twice yearly rant: it’s daylight savinG time, not daylight savingS time. As the mattress store says of its phone number, “leave the last ‘S’” off for saving(s).”  Please… pretty please… with sugar and honey on top.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

No comments: