The Interstate

So, I have to share this.

Tonight on City Council in Macon we had a special meeting. The mayor insisted we approve two mitigation plans relating to the I-75/I-16 construction in Macon. If the proposals were not approved by midnight, the project funding would be held up another year because of the federal budget year.

Anyway, Jaime Webb (James H. Webb) a realtor in town and anti-road improvements activist spoke. He said that the City Council could kill the plan, but because we don’t have a financial incentive to stand up to the DOT, we would not do it. In effect, he accused the five council members who support his position of being bribed by him. It was a truly bizarre argument and I truly thought he was going to cry.

Last week, he sent out this amazing email in which he called me smarmy and pandering for speaking in favor of the mitigation proposals. This week, I decided I’d cut to the chase and get on with it. His antics tonight were just icing on the cake for me, knowing what I was about to do.

I knew five members of Council opposed the mitigation plans and ten of us supported them. It takes a 10 person vote to call the question and shut off debate. I made sure to push my button first to be recognized, made the motion, and under parliamentary procedure the movant gets to be the first one to speak. Instead of speaking, I called the question.

Ten of us voted to cut off debate before it began on both issues. There was no point. One person would have slandered the mayor. One would have declared the meeting unnecessary. No one would have been persuaded. And we would have been there all night while five members of Council cried, questioned, and cast aspersions at the process and mayor.

Ten of us shut it down before it could begin. In effect, ten of us played poker and five played checkers. The ten of us called the opposition’s bluff, right when the opposition thought they were crowning a king.

And we got the mitigation plans passed. I was happy to be the bad guy for everyone else by making the motion and calling the question to shut down debate. I had fun. It was a good night. Maybe I ought to run for re-election after all.

*Another irony: Before I got on Council, it only took eight votes to cut off debate. I worked successfully to require ten votes to cut off debate. Two members voted against my proposal because, in her words, if you have the votes to pass, you should be able to cut off debate. Naturally, she was appalled that we cut off debate tonight.

It was bloody brilliant.

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Erick Erickson

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