Coughing through Budget Week

David R. Grubb is back to visit us.

It’s an unusual week here at City Council. Normally we meet Wednesday nights at 7:30, but¬†this week we’ve been hearing the proposal from each city department for the 2009 budget, so we’re meeting at 6pm each night this week. (Monday’s meeting, the first of four straight, went a whopping 7 hours 20 minutes. Not promising. Last night we only went 4.5 hours.)

So he’s here at the normal time. Mr. Grubb needs not make one of his famous comments to make his presence known. Tonight he’s just coughing his way through our meeting, with the occasional burp and belch. It made discussing the Planning Department budget with director Tom Micuda particularly grueling. But he gives the Council chambers a certain Simpsonsesque feel that I consider healthy.

What isn’t healthy is the relative absence of other people who speak at public meetings. Because most people can watch at home on a local cable channel, the Chamber is mostly empty during our meetings. Because they only see speakers like Mr. Grubb, who amusing as he is in his stuporous rants, I fear they do not see what I have seen: how influential the speaker’s podium in the Bloomington City Council chamber can be when it is wielded by an individual who is focused and on topic.

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I, too, am back after an extended hiatus, to resume my attempt to blog my experience as an elected official in an American city of some 70,000. I hope to post more often. Please send your comments.

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