So, I was asked the other day to go to yesterday's City Council meeting to voice my (and my neighbors') opinion regarding the future land use of some 50 or so acres that are currently undeveloped near our neighborhood. With kids in tow I went to the City Hall to give that opinion, because in America, the home of the free and the brave, we have the liberty to do that.
The portion of the meeting where we citizens are allowed to speak on the agenda items is supposed to start at 4 or 5:30 and we got there at 5. It was 8 pm by the time that they started on the public opinion part and that's when we actually went into the Council Chambers. The rest of the time we had to keep busy by exploring the building and eating.
FORTUNATELY they were opening an architectural exhibit of the proposed new central library where you could voice your opinion on which of the 3 designs you liked best. And along with the opening was an open buffet! So I didn't have to worry about the kids subsisting on Clif bars for the night. Fruit, cheese, veggies and Mexican mineral water. For us grown-ups they had beer and wine. Two nights before we had eaten dinner at a local gourmet pizza place that had an advertisement up for a new flavor of Shiner Beer. They used the AC/DC line "Back in Black" since the beer is Shiner Black (their main beer is Shiner Bock and when I moved to Texas in the 80's you couldn't get Shiner anywhere but in Texas). Well, Shiner Black was one of those free beers so I got to try it - great opportunity since I'm not about to go out and buy a six of beer that'll take up room in my fridge for a month. It was really good - very similar to Guinness Stout but without the bitter edge to it and a little less coffee taste. It certainly made the wait a lot less annoying! Since we were making a night of it and I wanted to treat the kids for so-far being incredibly well-behaved (and since I realized that we wouldn't get out of there early enough to go out to eat) I let the kids split a Blue Bell ice cream sandwich that I got out of the vending machine. Wow those things keep ice cream frozen SOLID! Normally ice cream is so soft out of those reach-in coolers that it's melted by the time you get it all unwrapped; not so with the vending machine. The kids ate their halves without a single drip of ice cream every occurring! One of the architects was really friendly towards the kids and on their display they were asking for public input on where to put the main entrance to the building. Before Giselle gave her first answer she asked him "Where is the parking lot? The entrance should be convenient to where people park." He really valued what she had to say regarding access from the street. It killed some time, that's for sure.
The kids did FABULOUS! That reminds me, I said that they'd get a larger sized Pokemon action figure for being so wonderful. I'm back - I just gave them each a 3-inch Entai.
For the first hour in the Council Chambers they were sitting and laying on the limestone tile floor in the back of the auditorium, coloring and working on sticker books. Then they got out some stuffed animal friends and silently ran around playing with those for the next hour, taking breaks to sit in the cushy chairs. At one point a gentleman came up to me and remarked about how well mannered and well behaved the kids were. I told him that "it's because my kids are homeschooled so they get to run around and play for a good part of the day and don't feel the need to act up when they're out and about; unlike other kids that are cooped up inside of a school for 6 to 8 hours who go nuts when they're released for the day." Paul found a young college girl to play peek-a-boo with and that kept him entertained for 15 min.
Back to the meeting itself. Goodness, the city manager spent almost an hour just reading the line items WHICH WERE WRITTEN DOWN ON THE AGENDA PAPERWORK THAT EVERYONE HAD A COPY OF SINCE THEY WERE HANDED OUT AT THE ENTRYWAY! Finally at 9 they started taking comments from the people who had signed up to speak (which I had done via a nifty computerized sign up system) - in the order that they signed up. At just before 10 pm they called my name, I very articulately presented my opinion to The Council, they nodded their heads in acknowledgement of my comments, the 3-minute buzzer buzzed, I finished my comments, ran up the aisle, assembled the kids and their stuff and we left. A 5 hour wait to speak for 3 minutes!
Of course we had to go down an extra flight of stairs to the 3rd floor of the parking garage so we could see the whole fountain/waterfall from the bottom - the kids thought that it's pretty neat.
Today, as part of school we're learning some interesting facts about the building that we spent 5 hours in yesterday. Gotta go do that now so we can spend the rest of the day at the park; it IS Friday after all!