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July 27, 2005: Good citizens

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Last night was a City Council meeting, which normally we would have ignored. But they were going to be discussing the impending racetrack project (since having a new Walmart in town is not enough white trash for us, someone thought it would be just ducky if they built a huge horse racing track right off the freeway) the group that is opposing it wanted to gather a large crowd, and since Richard and I are, like any sane, rational person who would like to keep their town from sliding even further into the hell of dead-end, low-paying jobs, traffic, and pollution (because the 1200 horses they want to house there will produce one heck of a lot of poop), against the racetrack as well, we decided we ought to take a more active part. So we showed up, dutifully wearing yellow shirts (the only yellow shirts either of us owned, actually) since that's the color of the protest group, and sat through an extremely long meeting, until they finally got to the part we actually cared about.

Small town politics are an interesting thing to watch. There is the vice mayor, who seemed to take things seriously, but also felt the need to make every comment a stump speech. There is the council member who was apparently voted for looks or something because he didn't seem to have the remotest clue what the rest of the group was talking about most of the time, nor did he seem to have even a vague clue of how politics and running a city actually works. There is the guy who shows up to every single council meeting with a chip on his shoulder because he has been unable to get himself elected for any office (and I think by now he has run for every single possible office available), so takes it out on the council by issuing long lists of angry questions at the meetings, acting as if he is an expert in everything he rants abuot, and by writing angry diatribes in an extremely biased, right-wing newspaper that is delivered to everyone in town whether we want it or not (Richard likes it only because we don't subscribe to a regular newspaper, so this provides fuel for his chimney starter for the barbecue grill). There are the slick lawyers presenting their cases to the city council, using big flowery words and smoothing over any rough edges in their arguments. There are the impassioned speeches by other city members who really ought to have at least made some effort to do some semblance of research before standing up and making it clear they really didn't have a clue. And then there is the rest of us, the audience, sinking lower and lower into our chairs as the night progressed, wishing that they would just vote on the damn provision about whether you can keep a horse in your backyard in a rural area already and move on.

Due to timing we didn't eat dinner before the meeting, and neither of us had had any idea it was going to run on so long. So once the race track issue had finally been discussed (and it's not a done deal by a long shot - they've still to finalize the environmental impact report, and the number of people opposing it is growing daily, much to the racing corporation's dismay) we staggered out to our car and headed for Denny's because it was either that or IHOP as the only things open that late. They brought us our food and we ate it blearily, interrupted only by another pair of people who stopped by our table, having left the meeting a little bit after us, sporting their yellow t-shirts too.

It's funny, this being an adult thing. You don't think about it when you are young - all the responsibility. It's not just that you have to have a job and own a house and mow the lawn and repair the leaking faucets and pay the bills. You also have to pay attention to the world around you, and as much as you might despise the dimwitted morons who are elected to the highest offices in the country, what happens in your own town is sometimes far more important, because that will have a far greater impact on your daily life than (nearly) anything the aforementioned dimwitted morons could ever do.

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