"Wow, I can't believe I'm finally here! Me, Al Gore! At the Democratic convention! And I'm the guy! The main man! No more number two! No more sitting around, hoping Bill hits his head on the bathtub! It's finally my turn! Me! Al Gore! This is so-o-o-o cool!" "Al, it looks like we may have a little problem.
Dear Mr. News Junkie: Will you settle a bet? My wife says that Republican convention is the only thing on the news because there's nothing else happening anywhere in the whole world. I say that's impossible.
Editor's Note: The Davenport City Council is considering adopting the following procedural rules. The council will discuss the draft proposal at a meeting at 7 p.m. August 9 at United Neighbors, 808 Harrison Street, Davenport.
Choosing a police chief is often done behind closed doors, with the public getting its first glimpse at a news conference after a decision has already been made. But the City of Davenport is throwing the process wide open.
The Scott County Community Jail and Alternatives Advisory Committee will meet on Wednesday, August 9, from 4:00-5:30 pm at United Neighbors (808 Harrison Street, Davenport?parking lot is just north of 8th Street). The public is welcome to attend and participate in discussion of items on the agenda that include : current jail population, jail population profile, overview of the criminal-justice system in Scott County, progress report of the Court Compliance Office, the Substance Abuse Targeted Capacity Expansion Grant, and more. It is an important discussion for the public to have with jail officials and other concerned citizens. Public safety has been identified as one of the main concerns of our community, and we should show Scott County our support and willingness to participate in efforts to achieve overall community safety. It is also an opportunity to voice our personal concerns and contribute our individual perspectives.

Later in the evening, at 7pm, another public meeting will take place at United Neighbors to discuss the draft version for the revised "Rules of Order" being proposed by Davenport's City Council. (See page 4 of this Reader issue for a draft of revisions for "Rules of Order" to be discussed at public meeting.) Rule #21 governs the Mayor's authority to form standing and special committees. There is some debate on the council whether to revise this rule to make the mayor's appointments to the five committees less flexible in the future. This action is stemming from the mayor's threat to remove several aldermen who have been "uncommunicative" about the various activities of the committees, more specifically the Community Development Committee. But, supposedly, all that discord has been settled, so the next logical step would be to drop the discussion about changing Rule #21. It would be very "unfriendly" of this council to pursue any further action that would diminish the mayor's authority in this matter, especially after he extended the olive branch and rescinded his decision to remove or reorganize the Community Development Committee. The public needs to ensure that several members of this particular council get past personal animosities and vindictive motives for directing city business by keeping a close watch and holding them accountable for their actions.

Another important item being discussed relative to the "Rules of Order" is the rule concerning public input during meetings. This is so important that the public really needs to turn out to debate this with the city staff and aldermen who will be present at the discussion. This is our opportunity to let the city know our expectations for how business is conducted at City Hall. Please attend if you can.

Attendance at the meetings, whether they are regular council meetings, committee meetings, or public hearings, acts as a barometer, so to speak, on how the council and staff should prioritize the issues at hand. If the public is absent, it sends a message to our leaders that the issue(s) aren't very important versus a large public attendance, where the message sent is that the issue(s) matter very much. Support for or against civic issues is critical to creating change. Otherwise, a handful of special interests are getting all the attention because they are always present and accounted for. It is the "squeaky wheel" syndrome at its best...or, worst, depending on who's getting the grease.
They say that people with dysfunctional behaviors that are destructive usually have to hit rock bottom before they are willing to admit they even have a problem, let alone take the steps to change. Such is the case with the Davenport's City Council.
I've sensed a feeling of frustration from inside and outside city hall lately. I can feel it in both the public and private sectors of our community, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I often get asked, "What's going on?" or "What's the hold-up" regarding high-profile city projects.
The public has an opportunity to submit its individual and collective thoughts about its expectations for a new police and fire chief via this survey and two public meetings scheduled for this week. The survey is equally important because it gives direction to the City as to who, what, why and how to measure the various applicants for these two critically important positions.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very proud day. To see all of you recent immigrants who have come from all over the world to be tossed like ripe ingredients into America's melting pot. After passing the tests you have so diligently prepared for here, you will finally become naturalized U.S. residents. It is very moving indeed. In fact, this is the largest graduating class in the entire history of the Eddie Ackerman School of American Citizenship and Cosmetology."

"We are thanking you much, Mr. Eddie. Unworthy are we of this great honor which overflows our hearts like a million hummingbird wings."

"That's OK, Chang. And I'm particularly glad to see how well we've trained you in the first requirement for citizenship, which is the English language."

"I blush waterfalls at your praise, and pour lotus blossoms on the altar of your dragon's sister."

"You're welcome. Now, the second requirement of citizenship is good moral character."

"Excusing me please."

"Yes, Carmelita."

"Is that not why El Jefe Clinton has been thrown from power by his American people? Soon there will be firing of cannons in the capital and much rejoicing!"

"Um, not exactly. You see, every four years we replace the head of state, and– "

"Viva Zapata! We will fill the streets to pull down the statues of the evil dictators!"

"I'd hold on just a second with that. First, let's go over this election thing again. Now–"

"I am having a question, Mr. Ackerman."

"What is it, Wzcklzys?"

"The news broadcasters report a search for the vice president. Has he been lost? Perhaps he was detained by the secret police."

"There is no secret police in America. Maybe we just better start with our system of government."

"Mon capitan, I know this one!"

"All right, Henri-Jacques."

"It is that system in which a title is passed from generation to generation, no? Called in English a 'monarchy.'"

"No, no, no! Incorrect."

"But is not this George Double-You the son of the former king?"

"Yes. I mean, no. Not king. Former president. But, you see–"

"A thousand pardons, sahib. I, too, am confused. Does his son not succeed him now?"

"No. I mean, yes. I mean, not yet. You see, first they have this convention and–"

"Ah, to see who will be anointed! The suspense of waiting must be as heavy as the camel's buttock!"

"As a matter of fact, they already know who will be anointed. I mean, nominated."

"The people will not be watching their American television receivers with the baited breath?"

"No. They'll actuallly be watching that Survivor show. You see, the convention is more or less–"

"Mr. Acronym!"

"Yes, Mohammed."

"I have studied the American tradition of going to conventions and know that there are many late-night parties with alcohol and dancing and other things my religion does not allow me to imagine."

"Well, maybe at some conventions, but not at this–"

"Mr. A! What is meant by 'water balloons and noisemakers'? These are devices used by the secret police to interrogate people at the convention?"

"There is no secret police!"

"But who will deal with the 'floor demonstrations' I have heard about?"

"Wait. Those 'demonstrations' are like parades that go up and down the aisles when the delegates get... ."

"But the news broadcasts say there will be demonstrations outside the convention. Who will deal with them?"

"The secret police. I mean– listen, you all need to study our system of government harder. Except for Nguyen, who scored 100%. You will make a wonderful American citizen."

"Thank you, Mr. Eddie. But I have already received offers from two other countries." "I beg your pardon?"

"America is still on the short list, but we're also talking to Luxembourg and Canada."

Copyright 2000 by Garry Lee Wright. All rights reserved. GLW's on WGN (AM radio 720) Chicago. Listen, email, and check out News Junkie columns at wgnradio.com.

Zoning In

Since early May 2000, I have participated as a member of the Mayor's Ad Hoc Committee for 53rd Street in Davenport. The purpose of the committee is to ascertain what to do with 218 acres the City prematurely purchased last year within the 53rd Street/Eastern Avenue Mixed-Use Development project area prior to the project's demise.