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Showdown in Clown Town

Island Life

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told this story here- I certainly have thought about it. It has to do with a time capsule and a responsibility to your voting public. It has to do with the ongoing relevance of a lesson from the youthful times. It has to do with not making assumptions about what is important to others and what isn’t. It has to do with accountability of elected officials, even if being elected as an eighth grade homeroom representative is hardly official and barely an election worth even a footnote in any history. It also has to do with being caught at not doing your job in that position, no matter how pathetically simple and glaringly unimportant  the duties of that job entailed.

I do not remember running for this position- I don’t really know why I would have. In retrospect, it sounds like something my mother would have made me do, or even worse, somehow got me into it without my knowing, which I definitely had happen more than once in my younger times. On any number of occasions I found myself writing a line from a David Byrne/ Talking Heads song before he even thought of  it- you know the one: “Well, how did I get here?”

In this case, the here where I was was as a note taker in these student council meetings, writing stuff down that was discussed so that the next morning during homeroom I could get up before my homeroom class and report on all the important business and machinations that a student council of the middle school variety would grind through week after week, with the thought that maybe we would both learn a little something about some democratic process, and at the same time get something done within the small box that the powers that be might have put on our plate.

The funny thing is that I don’t remember anything about most of the stuff that was discussed during each dreaded meeting- I do however remember the time capsule. I don’t recall any of the particulars about the project, just that for some reason, even though it was in my notes, I didn’t say anything about it. It was there, plain as day, but because of some still unknown impulse, I skipped right over it and went on to the next item in my scribblings until I got to the end, or at least what I thought was the end. As I finished, a hand went up in the classroom and the question came forth as if my subconscious conscience had materialized out in the desks and chairs before me. The question might well have been “why don’t you have any pants on?, or “why did you pick your nose 8 times during the spelling test?”, but instead it was of course: “Why didn’t you tell us about the Time Capsule?”   In truth, I don’t think I really knew, but I knew that at that moment I was embarrassed as hell. What I was beginning to know however, as that moment hung in the air and then passed, was the first glimmerings of the meaning of public accountability.

I didn’t last much longer as homeroom rep- I think swimming on a team was starting to trump politics and/or public service as a youthful interest and consumer of after school energies. I think I had also not really adequately answered that question to myself as to how I had gotten there, but I did find that there were a select few who were more than happy to take my place. Along some of those same lines and years later, I can’t say exactly how I wound up at my first Vashon Parks Board of Commissioners meeting almost three years ago, although I know it had something to do with what is still the continuing saga of the VES fields project. I do however remember distinctly asking myself how the Board members up in front of the room had gotten there, and more importantly, why I continued to sit there and take the version of verbal abuse that they were dishing out to their constituents and their electorate. After about forty minutes I walked out, not really understanding why the rest in attendance didn’t do so as well. It was an odd and disgusting phenomenon, this complete lack of respect  for the public they were supposedly elected to serve, and so that is why the next time I attended a meeting a few weeks later I brought my video camera, to see if things were really as bad as I had remembered. As any who have watched bits and pieces of these recordings on the Youtubes could perhaps tell you, as well as any who still regularly attend these curious convergences, not much has really changed, not that I expected it to. That is why, even after my blow up of a few weeks ago, I have decided to cast my lot amongst the available positions on the Park Board to see who we might be able to cast out in order to change the culture there. That is all I will say about that for now, other than to quote another pop culture icon by simply saying- Vote For Pedro.