A Championship Meeting?

Lakewood Observer readers of the City Council column will recall that it was pointed out that the production schedule of this paper does not always coincide on a timely basis with the meeting schedule of city council. For instance, council meets on the first and third Mondays of the month. The Observer comes out every two weeks, in your hands on Tuesday. So, sometimes this column can report on a meeting that is only one week in the past, similar to a weekly paper. Since the paper usually is “put to bed” in a production sense on Monday night, there have been instances where the editorial staff has waited until my article is completed and filed at 11:00 the night of a council meeting. On these instances, we can get the drop, so to speak, on the other papers in town by having an article out the next day.

On those occasions where there are long intervals between a meeting and the next Observer paper I have the opportunity and the advantage of seeing how the other media have reported on a meeting—which issues were emphasized, which discussions were the liveliest.

Or, if nothing really happened at a meeting (and non-happenings do happen) then I have the luxury of wandering off with you on another facet of city government. You might recall the article in which my call up for jury duty in the Lakewood Municipal Court prompted an article on “The Third Branch.” I never did end up being called for duty but I placed my name back in the hopper in hopes of a second chance so that I could report that experience to you. Perhaps that wish precluded my selection on the second go around.

Then, there was the meeting that produced little of interest except a small report at the end from Lakewood Police Lieutenant Saballa about the department’s participation in the International S.W.A.T. contest two years ago. That fortuitous nugget resulted in an in depth look at our WestShore SWAT and the subsequent involvement of the Lakewood Observer in many SWAT charitable activities.

All of which brings us up to a little gem of a meeting, a speck of gold in a geeky governmental sense, the council meeting of October 15, 2007. This will have the eerie feeling of a midwinter reminisce of a fabulous baseball season when one game is selected for a rehash.

At issue was the Tribe, our Cleveland Indians; not the city. Our boys of summer were in the playoffs against Boston with the game beginning at 7:30—the same time that council meetings started. The outcome? (Not the outcome of the council meeting). Well, it could very well determine whether we went to the World Series.

The goal? Get this meeting over with fast.

President Seelie called the meeting to order at 7:31 (lost a minute). You could feel it in the air. Everybody was on their toes, just like our heroes were at that very moment. No wasted motion. Every move executed perfectly. The docket was thin, really thin. Perhaps the word went out to department heads to keep unnecessary items off until the next meeting.

As per custom, a resolution recognizing a deserving Lakewood citizen was up. Nickie Antonio (at large) and Mayor Thomas George recognized Edward Gallagher of the Beck Center for his work in music therapy. Gallagher’s wife, Lisa, and their daughter posed for the ceremonial picture.

Everybody was warmed up, in the groove. Council Clerk Mary Hagan read an ordinance. This time she put extra spin on her usual fast delivery. Even before she finished Seelie would call the play, asking for a motion. Instinctively, a member would jump in; make a motion, followed quickly by a backup offering a second. Motion after motion, the agenda was moved, just like CC mowing them down. The clock said 7:48. This could be an unofficial record for a meeting if it ended now. Members had scooted their chairs back for a sprint home to the TV sets. Administration had already stacked and gathered papers. A few remaining in the audience beamed in on the exit doors.

Just one last thing—comments from the audience. John Saylor and his wife of Parkwood Avenue stood up. They had questions about what they thought was a settlement on the part of the city with Calanni Auto Repair. They didn’t like it. Assistant Law Director Thomas Corrigan came to the mound (whoops, podium). A sudden exhalation, you could feel it, this game was getting away. It wasn’t going to end that fast.

Alas, it took another half an hour to examine the current status of legal action against that business before the game (meeting) was finally called.

It could have been a record—18 minutes. Well, maybe next year.

Read More on City Council
Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 9:54 AM, 10.28.2007