Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kittens ... Not Lions

Yeah, it's sad, believe me Missy
When you're born to be a sissy
Without the vim and verve
But I could show my prowess
Be a lion, not a mowess
If I only had the nerve

("If I Only Had a Brain," from The Wizard of Oz)

Ah, where's Bert Lahr when you need him?

Last night the Council held its long-delayed vote on the two current ARHA board vacancies, and their actions were, to say the least, remarkable.

Because there were two openings (one due to the retirement of Ruby Tucker and one to the expiration of Melvin Miller's term), the Council decided to mark up two ballots. Each ballot included the names of all seven candidates.

The first ballot to fill Ruby Tucker's slot was straightforward. Derek Hyra, a Cameron Station Democrat and an academic with expertise in HUD programs and policies, won six votes while Deborah Harris captured one vote, that of Councilman Ludwig Gaines. Dr. Hyra was appointed.

Good move.

But with the second critical ballot for Melvin Miller's position, the acting City Attorney announced that no candidate had attained the necessary minimum of four votes. So Council decided to defer making an appointment for another two to five months, leaving Melvin Miller in his place while the City advertises his post again.

What's significant about the length of the delay?

The Council can now arrange it so the position won't be filled until after the election in May.


That's not all, folks. When Councilman Gaines asked the acting City Attorney to declare the detailed results for the second ballot, citing public interest, it turns out there was only a single vote cast: Mr. Gaines' vote for Mr. Miller.

The Mayor and five other Council members abstained from voting for any of the candidates. Can you say collusion?

After this Churchillian decision, Councilman Rob Krupicka once again took the podium to wax about affordable housing, about what a wonderful ARHA CEO Roy Priest is turning out to be, and about a possible change in ARHA's board size, and ...

Put a sock in it already, will ya?

One quasi-heartening fact: the Council for the first time is too fearful of voters in this community to once again hand Mr. Miller the burnished keys to the public housing kingdom. Just a few years ago they would have brushed us off and moved ahead to anoint him but they didn't. That represents a vote of no confidence (of a sort) in Mr. Miller.

Nevertheless, our fearless leaders left Mr. Miller in place as chairman until the next go-round, so they can't be too displeased with his performance.

What remains to be seen is whether Council will take the potentially despicable route of postponing the appointment until after the election and then slipping Mr. Miller back into his comfortable old place. But nothing would surprise the Growler.

Toto, we're certainly not in Kansas any more — now cue those flying monkeys!