Milestones: A City Council Thanksgiving

The council chamber is festively adorned with cornucopia, crepe-paper turkeys, and cardboard cut-outs of Pilgrims, Native Americans and Miles Standish holding a paper bag with eye holes cut out of it. The City Council members stand in their respective places, holding hands for the benediction.

Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert: I hereby call this Thanksgiving to order. Mr. Rainey, please lead us in the saying of grace.

Council member Mike Rainey: Let us pray. Lord, we pray that you give us the wisdom to adequately divide this meal among those of us assembled here today. We pray that you guide us in the serving of turkey, and of dressing, and the distribution of gravy, and cranberry sauce, and most especially of pumpkin pie. Please guide us, Lord, in helping and serving all the people of Henderson. And as for those who criticize these prayers, Lord, please dispatch them before Monday morning at 6 into the flaming pits of hell where they shall burn for all eternity for their heathen ways. In Jesus’ name we pray.

All: Amen!

The council members sit down, vigorously wiping their hands.

Seifert: OK. The first item on the agenda is the carving of the Thanksgiving turkey. Maybe the city attorney could remind the council of the procedure for turkey carving and serving.

City Attorney John Zollicoffer: Since the mayor sets the agenda, I imagine he’s the one that carves the turkey. I’d have to research it during billable hours. However, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out, since the members of the press are here, that I at no time represented this turkey while in my capacity of city attorney. That being said, I’ve drafted a resolution for the council to the effect that a statue of the turkey be erected on Breckenridge Street as part of the Embassy Block Project.

Council member Ranger Wilkerson: Just how in the name of all that’s rustic and metaphorically expressed are we supposed to pay for that?

Rainey: I move that all city operations be moved into the old City Garage. Also, I move that city employees be sold as surplus donor organs to raise the general fund balance, except the city clerk, who has the only key to the vault.

Council member John Wester: I told you having only the one key was a bad idea.

Council member Elissa Yount (looking up from a copy of “The Constitution and Municipal Government for Dummies”): You can’t do that. What about the 13th Amendment?

Council member Bernard Alston: Oh, you mean “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Yount: That would be the one, yes.

Alston: You’re taking a passage from the Constitution and citing it out of context. You’re just assuming that your interpretation is correct. I can think of more than one scenario where we can dispose of employees as surplus property. For example, if one owed delinquent federal taxes …

Seifert: We have a motion to sell employees as surplus. Second?

Wester: Second.

Seifert: All in favor?

All (except Yount): Aye!

Seifert: Opposed?

Yount: No. If we’re going to sell Henderson’s natural human legacy, we should examine it in committee first and set some prices.

Wester shoots something at Yount with his spoon. She reaches behind council member Lonnie Davis and smacks him in the back of the head.

Seifert: Cut it out, you two. The motion carries. (Horrifying shrieks begin to echo through City Hall.) Now I ask that the city manager bring the turkey over here so we can get this meal started. We still have a lot of entrees on the agenda.

City Manager Eric Williams brings a platter containing a turkey to Seifert. Seifert sharpens his carving knife and attempts to carve the turkey.

Seifert: Hey! It’s still frozen solid! Mr. Manager, would you please explain this?

Williams: As you may recall, on Oct. 28, Ranger introduced a motion to freeze all city portions that was passed unanimously by the council. When I interpreted the council’s will, and perhaps I was mistaken here, I thought that the turkey was supposed to come before the council and request that it be thawed and cooked. My state of thinking was such that there are positives and negatives to unfreezing the turkey, and I could go through each part of the turkey and discuss those points with you in detail. It’s sort of like a train leaving Chicago at 3 a.m. carrying 46 passengers traveling east at 35 miles per hour. It begs the question of the relative humidity in Port-au-Prince.

Council member Harriette Butler: What are you talking about? (Everyone stares at her.) Sorry.

Seifert: My interpretation was that we froze city positions, not portions.

Williams: I could have been mistaken, but let’s look at the ramifications of leaving the Thanksgiving portions frozen. It’s possible that …

Wester: I want the left drumstick!

Yount: I get the left drumstick. You get the right drumstick. That’s how we did it last time.

Wester: Well, I should get the left drumstick because I asked for it first. You’re just making trouble by asking for it second.

Seifert: Does it really matter? They’re frozen solid anyway. (Seifert looks over at the kiddie table, where council members-elect Robert Gupton, Lynn Harper and Garry Daeke sit eating a hot, sumptuous Thanksgiving meal.) Where did they get that?

Alston: Michael Jacobs, his fat little reporter and that guy from a local daily printed news periodical brought it and served it up to them.

Council member Mary Emma Evans: I hope he used a minority caterer.

Seifert: Well, there’s plenty of other food to eat.

Davis: That’s all frozen solid too. (He turns a gravy boat upside down and shakes it.)

Rainey: I move we adjourn to the Silo Restaurant and pay the check out of Powell Bill funds. After all, we’re getting there on city streets.

The criminal John Q. Thuggenton bursts into the room waving a pistol.

Thuggenton: All right, everybody, this is a stickup! Put your wallets, watches, jewelry and deeds to city real estate into this bag. Now!

He fires a shot into the ceiling.

Wilkerson: Son, do you know what kinda awful gol’darned hootenanny of a big ol’ mess we all a-went through to paint that there ceiling? People on their day off come on up here to do that. We have got to get a handle on this.

Davis: Call the police!

Yount: You ordered them sold as surplus. They’re on their way to Saudi Arabia as spare parts. It’ll take the state troopers 45 minutes to get here.

Davis: Can’t the deputies come?

Alston: I suppose we can take it up at the next FAIR Committee meeting.

Wester: I move that the city clerk, as the sole remaining city employee, be authorized to arrest this man.

Evans: Second!

Seifert: All in favor?

All: Aye!

Seifert: Motion carries. Get ’em, Dianne! Don’t forget the minutes!

City Clerk Dianne White, vault key in one hand and a vintage cassette tape in the other, moves in on Thuggenton. Council members begin sneaking out of the chamber.