Don’t get me wrong, there are some fine local city councilpersons out there who truly listen to and serve their constituents. Geneva, Illinois, Third Ward alderman, Jeanne McGowan is a perfect example of this too-rare breed. The problem, of course, is, their far more numerous self-serving pandering peers generally drown them out.
To wit, one of my favorite friends recently regaled me with tales of Geneva First Ward Alderman Mike Bruno co-opting the October 7 city council meeting to the point where it went well into overtime.
She said she got so tired of having to watch him pontificate that she wanted to gouge her eyes out. I explained that, had she embarked upon that drastic course of action, she’d still have to listen to him, and that’s so much worse.
Bruno, a legend is his own mind, wouldn’t let go of the fact he was the only alderman opposed to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church installing new siding on the Larrabee House they once used as a rectory. So, he relentlessly and pointlessly droned on making the meeting last three times longer than necessary.
Then, his ‘Mr. Smith Goes To Washington’ proclivities notwithstanding, the council voted 9 to 1 to override a Historical Preservation Commission vote denying the renovation. I’m sure you know who the lone “no” vote was.
The Chairman and I discuss this lost art all the time. Understanding you’re about to go down in electoral flames is lost on so many city councilpeople. When you know you’ve lost the battle, the correct strategy is to briefly voice your opposition and move on. If you keep your legislative powder dry, you might actually make a difference on the next vote. But if you consistently tilt at windmills, you’ll be labeled as a loon and your council peers will simply tune you out.
Rest assured, Mr. Bruno will have a credible and well-funded opponent in 2021.
But as bad as he is, watching Collar County city councils tackle the looming legalized marijuana issue is so much worse. Is it any wonder why the rabble is starting to think that old white men suck?
With all of the absurd gnashing of teeth, keening, and rending of garments, you’d think they were talking about bringing back opium dens, or God forbid, pool halls!
Collar County municipalities like Wheaton, Plainfield, Naperville, Sugar Grove, Campton Hills and Batavia have all opted out of recreational pot sales by applying a “logic” that has no logic. Though the Naperville city council finally decided to let the voters make the call via referendum.
Campton Hill Village President Mike Tyrell opposed recreational marijuana sales because “It would increase the number of impaired drivers on the road.” That’s certainly a possibility, but a Campton Hills ban wouldn’t nearly mitigate that problem. Their residents will simply drive to St. Charles and Geneva to buy their pot, and what would stop pot-impaired folks from driving through that municipality?
Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michel is also against recreational sales on the grounds they could put a dispensary directly across from Waubonsee Community College. First, college students won’t be the least bit daunted by having to drive elsewhere, and doesn’t the gas station right across the street sell booze?
And second, were I a college student, I’d be rather insulted in regard to that kind of ironic Republican nanny state-ism. Sean! Trust me! Any Waubonsee student who has a hankerin’ for pot is probably already partaking.
But, as is almost always the case, the worst case of this Quincy Wagstaff Adams thinking is none other than the King…I mean Mayor of Batavia, Jeff Schielke. Just like that River City con man Harold Hill, without as much as consulting the city council, Schielke launched into his own version of ‘Ya Got Trouble’ claiming marijuana would bring about the downfall of his beloved city.
No Jeff! That’s been your job for nine too-long terms
If you’re gonna ban marijuana for its inherently evil propensities, then you damn well better shut down all of those Batavia liquor stores and bars, too.
Ask any police officer who they’d rather encounter, a pothead or a drunk, and their answer will be unanimous. A felony court judge told me his court call would be reduced by 70 percent if they could effectively ban alcohol, but if they managed to eliminated illegal drugs, it would decline by a mere 20 percent.
So, why isn’t Batavia addressing the far more insidious alcohol scourge? That’s right! It’s because of the inevitable massive tax revenue hit – particularly in regard to the local restaurants and bars – and we tried that back in the 30s and it didn’t work out too well now, did it?
It’s really sad when people who clearly are aware of history choose to ignore it. Though I suppose I should be grateful that all those Batavians will be coming to Geneva with their legal marijuana tax dollars.
And the level of hypocrisy in ignoring alcohol’s ills while demonizing pot, says it all. Old white men, and particularly those who serve on city councils, really do suck! Thank God I’m an honorary Mexican.