It was the Academy Awards without movies, it was the Emmys without music, it was the most fabulous City Council meeting EVER — with a big fat cake and plenty of coffee.
Fort Bragg Mayor Will Lee was the “Grand Presenter,” preeminent community booster, and star of the evening.
It was the first time the city got a look at what Will Lee was really capable of. Up to now, our semi-new Mayor has made it a point to defer respectfully to the former Mayor Lindy Peters, taking instruction from the master of self-promotion with respectful deference. They agree on everything so that makes it easier.
Monday night, Will Lee stepped out of the shadow of his mentor and demonstrated his own innovative creativity and a special talent for leadership through showmanship.
Everybody loved it.
Town Hall was packed to overflowing — even onto the sidewalk. All previous City Council meetings looked pale and pointless by comparison. We used to be surprised to get coffee. The cake was for retirements and dismally minimal.
Monday night there was CAKE. Looking back on all that policy and regulation going boringly nowhere, and absolutely zero glamour, one could not help but be forcefully impressed that this was certainly a departure from routine City Council meetings.
Certainly, it was Will Lee's finest moment so far.
Technically, it was the ONLY thing he has done in his tenure as mayor, but I ain't quibbling. It was very much worth the wait. I had three pieces of cake. It was a big night for a really talented entertainer and a guy that clearly knows how to throw a shindig. Will Lee: Supermayor!
It was surprisingly easy. Will Lee simply gave awards and plaques to everybody, Literally everybody — and they lined up in droves.
He gave plaques to tattoo artists and flooring store owners, he gave one to the barn across the street from where he works, and an artist girl he knows from the Tip Top bar. He gave them to everyone he could think of. It filled Town Hall and was a giant success.
It is a measure of the stubbornly enduring prestige and importance of the City Council in Fort Bragg that virtually everyone who was awarded a plaque came to get one. People were getting calls out of the blue right up to the big night.
There was a little applause fatigue and more than a little wonder at the magnitude of the event. But there was also an actual line of satisfied people filing out of the building with their shiny new plaques. Plaques — not the bullshit little certificates of lesser administrations.
Will Lee was visibly pleased with himself as the meeting emptied out after the great awards extravaganza and the Council got down to business in a comfortingly empty hall.
They went through a light agenda like lightening. The blue ribbon ad hoc committee that Councilwoman Tess Albin Smith has been orchestrating made a polished evaluation of the CVRA (California Voting Rights Act) situation and promised three public input meetings on our uncertain political future.
I thought that the committee members did a good job running down the facts of the matter. They laid it out in remedial black and white as if they were explaining it all to an uninformed third-grader and elaborated briefly on the inherent irrationality of a reform intended to increase minority political participation that in empirical fact makes minority participation more UNlikely.
They told us how bad it can be when you lose the right to hold an open election and how it would look if you did. They called that distinction, pros and cons. They promised three meetings for public input. Which is a sure sign that they are assembling ammunition to cram it down your throat.
Stay tuned, the City Council as we know it is doomed under the CVRA. You heard it here first.
They gave the green light to the removal of a traffic circle (more on that later). They gave Gabriel Maroney back his $1,000 for stopping the catastrophic destruction of the GP dry sheds. They rubber-stamped the next step in bringing 5G connectivity into our intimate midst and lamented, briefly, the city’s impotency to stop the saturation of the local population with microwaves. Bye-bye city bees. They tossed a few hundred thousand in grant gravy to the Development Director (normal and uncontested).
All in all, the meeting was exemplary in its civility and efficient in its process. They did a little tweaking of policy as if they were actually doing something vital and went home satisfied with themselves and confident that cakes and circuses covered their butts.
It was a real fine meeting.