This time of year is usually when I am most proud to be a Mobilian. The azaleas are starting to bloom. The weather is absolutely glorious, like a you-can-leave-your-windows-open kind of glorious. Well, at least in the morning and evenings. And there are so many fantastic events crammed into March and April’s delightful, non-hideously hot and humid days, you really can’t keep up.
And with the first Airbus plane recently rolling off the line in Mobile, a cruise ship headed back our way, capital improvement projects — including much-needed new sidewalk and park improvements planned throughout the city — the Mardi Gras park construction underway, the “gateway to Mobile” improvements planned for Water Street, the Three Mile Creek Greenway initiative, all of the new retail at McGowin Park and the Shoppes at Bel Air, new restaurants popping up everywhere and the emerging St. Louis corridor, it feels even greater than ever before to be a Mobilian.
And I am certain I am leaving out something.
There is as much excitement in the air as there is pollen. And more genuine optimism for our city’s future from our citizenry than I have ever seen.
So naturally, some folks have to try and screw it up.
It all started last Tuesday when the City Council tried to strip Mayor Sandy Stimpson of the ability to put items on the agenda unless he had a member of the council co-sponsor it. Our councilors claim they were simply trying to better communications between the council, the mayor and his administration.
Funny. I thought it was more over the embarrassment they felt over the silly squirrel-feeding ban ordinance, Riverside Ice-gate and who was getting credit for all of the aforementioned progress.
But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and just say it was for “better communication.”
Gang, it looks like anything but that and that’s why everyone was so upset by it.
We elect BOTH our mayor and our councilors to represent us, and we want BOTH to have the power to do just that.
The immediate mental image everyone got in their heads with this resolution was our poor mayor, walking down the stairs of Government Plaza and into each of their offices, with his head down, hunched over, resolution in hand, asking “will you please sponsor my resolution?” And for some reason his voice transforms into the voice of that guy from “Office Space,” who keeps asking, “has anyone seen my stapler?”
In other words, it removes the very same things from our mayor that his administration didn’t want being fed to the squirrels in Bienville Square. And no one wants a mayor who is missing those. That’s just nuts.
And then of course, the next mental image is of one of the councilors leaning back in a chair, twiddling his or her fingers, saying, “Well, I will co-sponsor this for you, but you know I’m really gonna need [fill in the blank] from you, Mr. Mayor. Muhahahahahaha.”
In fact, it seems to be the exact opposite of how you would want your government to run.
Again, let’s say their hearts were pure and that’s not what these sweet, little, innocent council angels intended at all, but that sure is how it looked. The optics on this were just terrible, guys. And that is why Councilman John Williams withdrew it once all of the councilors realized just how wildly unpopular this was going to be. Kudos to them for listening to those who put them in office. I’m certain it was very tempting for them to dig their heels in deeper.
If only it could have just ended there. But of course it didn’t. Sigh.
The mayor’s chief of staff, Colby Cooper, rubs most, if not all, of the councilors the wrong way for some reason, to say the least. And though I am sure he was just highly frustrated at their attempt to politically castrate his boss, in the midst of that debate, he tweeted out some things he probably should have just bitched to George Talbot and/or Sandy Bear (muzzle optional, but this is starting to really sound kinky) about over some beers at McSharry’s Irish Pub.
But instead of whispering into Sandy Bear’s ear, he took to the Twittersphere and said the councilors were attempting a power grab and should be voted out. And obviously, no politico wants to ever have the words “vote them out” spoken, written, sung, smoke-signaled or yes, even tweeted out about them. So you can understand why they would be pissy as well.
So then, of course, Councilman Fred Richardson had to fire back. He put a picture on his Facebook page of Cooper under a “Wanted” sign with a number to report him as a bully to the BullyBlocker program.
And Fred just couldn’t leave it at that.
He upped the ante and put out a “poem” about Cooper, turning this whole incident from just marginally embarrassing to horribly embarrassing.
Ode to a Bully — By Fred Richardson
BULLY, BULLY, WATCH HIM RUN
BULLY, BULLY, FULL OF DUNG
OVER THE BAY IS WHERE HE STAY
RUN BACK HOME, EAT YOUR HAY
BULLY, BULLY, SNORT & KICK
FULL OF HOT AIR AND SOUR SPIT
And just when you thought he could not get down any deeper in the gutter, he did, as he started arguing with everyone on his Facebook page who expressed their disapproval of his “works,” telling them to stop drinking the “hater-aid,” and other classic Fred Richardsonisms.
He also responded to someone who called him immature by making this comment, “maybe if I lived in Daphne I would see the need to condemn to protect my fellow Baldwin Countian. Elected officials in Mobile has absolutely no authority in Baldwin County. Get you some business, in Daphne.”
I really don’t even know what that comment means. Apparently he thought the guy lived in Daphne, but the guy said he just grew up there and does live in Mobile.
Oh God. Why am I even following this seventh-grade girl crap? SMH.
As a resident of District One, I can’t tell you just how proud it makes me to call Fred Richardson my councilperson. I am expecting him to call Cooper a doo-doo head next.
Perhaps this kind of representation wouldn’t be so terrifying if the picture on Fred’s Facebook page right before all of this childishness wasn’t a selfie of him on a plane going to represent Mobile at the National League of Cities. Sigh.
Anyway, dearest councilors, mayor and mayoral staff, there are way too many incredible things going on in this city right now to be engaging in this kind of behavior (at least so publicly, anyway). Every time you do, an azalea bloom dies.
But I think we can solve these problems with just a few simple steps:
Council, don’t try to strip the mayor of his ability to put things on the agenda again. Nobody thinks that’s cool.
Colby, try to be a little warmer and fuzzier with council. Think of Sandy Bear’s fur. But when they do piss you off, logout of Twitter immediately.
Fred, do the same on Facebook.
All, figure out the best way to disseminate information on all of these amazing projects so you will all feel you are getting the “credit” you deserve, so these fights can end. (Note: your citizenry does not really care about who gets credit, we just like that things are getting done.)
And finally, make us as proud of you as we are of our city.
In the end, even in spite of this latest kerfuffle, it still sure is a great time to be a Mobilian. I think I’ll stop and go smell some rather unfragrant-but-beautiful azaleas.