High drama rings hallow

James Day
Saturday October 20, 2001



The City Council’s spats are usually just tiresome. This latest bordered on the obscene. 

Faced with the current horror and suffering, the council could do no better than to perform one of its self-important little dramas. 

The roles were certainly played to perfection. A progressive gets giddy with the sweep of events and the sound of bullhorns and dashes off an unnecessarily divisive resolution, followed by the usual backtracking, implausible denials and media-bashing. 

Not to be outdone, the mayor, know as the Queen of High Dudgeon to all those reporters in whose ears she has whispered of dark secrets and doom, performs her hand-wringing act, the one where she poses as the only person who really cares. A few days later, she latches (a little disloyally) onto the comments of some thick-brained patriots to prove that her opponents have once again harmed the city. 

The rest of the council hops up on stage (or is dragged on, in the case of Mim Hawley) to do their speaking parts, which consist largely of questioning the motives of the others, even though what’s going on outside is so awful that it demands we all try, more than we ever have, to be a little better than we usually are. 

It’s too bad. The truth is, all these people care about the city and want to do good, even if they don’t always act like it. And there was a time when such dramatics had some import, when there was real money to be spent (from block grants and other sources) and when the debates over land use and rent control were fresh and at a critical stage. 

Now it’s too often just cheap theater. They must know that even their hardcore district constituencies may grow weary and boot them off the stage. 


James Day 




Webster says ‘dudgeon’ is a wood used especially for dagger hilts. -ed