Okay, I could tell you the cold, hard, factual details about the City Council luncheon today, I've got it on tape and I have most of the handouts that were available but, I'd like to touch on something a little different. Besides, I might follow up on Wes' report after it comes out in tomorrow's News-Leader.
I'd rather look at the attitude and chemistry of the new Council tonight. I like it.
I see a true consideration and respect for other members on the part of our new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Almost a deference to them that can only be described as a humbleness of spirit on the part of the Mayor and his new Pro Tem. It's a refreshing change.
Twice today, I witnessed the Pro Tem defer to Councilman Doug Burlison, who offered some good suggestions, and I think Mr. Burlison has, sometimes, felt a bit shut out in the past.
This is not to say that our past Mayor, Tom Carlson, did not allow other Councilmembers to speak, he did, but, while that is true, there never seemed to be the level of respect we are witnessing on the part of the new Mayor.
I don't really think I am the only one who got a sense there was a certain feeling of entitlement on the part of the old Council. Often, they seemed to decide how they wanted to act, with little regard to the sentiment of the public. I also don't think I am the only person within this city that sensed a certain arrogance on the part of some of the past members. Sure, they were all, personally, likeable people but, they didn't seem to be very approachable to the general public.
Another attitude I like is the respectful but firm manner in which our new Mayor deals with the City Manager. I know it is pretty early to pass any judgement on the way the new Council works but, Mayor O'Neal has already set a precedent of establishing his and the Council's unquestionable authority over Springfield's fledgling City Manager. The effect seems to be a more genuine deference to the wishes of the Council on the part of the manager. He seems a bit more tentative in recommending certain actions and time lines than he has in the past, and I believe, he may be starting to take his place, under the authority of the City Council, a bit more seriously than in his first days as manager.
All this is good news to me, in part, because I am going to be letting go of covering the City Council more and more as time goes by. I'm going through my own changes. The last 4 months has been a transitional time for me. [Really the last year, considering I lost my little dog and my sweet Mother in late December, 2007 and early April, 2008.]
I really enjoyed the work I was doing for the Community Free Press but, it became more and more clear to me that they really needed to use staff personnel for the increasing work load they were requesting of me, if, as it became apparent was the case, they were not willing to pay me appropriately for the work I was taking very seriously and spending more and more time upon. It was good business for them but, not good common sense for me.
Here's the confession: I loved what I was doing, so much so, in fact, I've been doing it for free as I have been slowly and quietly weaning myself from continuing in the same manner as I have been able to perform in the past. You see, I'm not a rich person who can afford to keep sacrificing my time in the endeavor, regardless of how much I enjoy(ed) it and regardless of how much I enjoy(ed) offering information as a community service to those who were and continue to be interested in city business.
Anyway, no promises. I'll write about the city if and when I have time or, if and when I feel like it. There's a big, broad, beautiful world out there and I have interests in other areas too. Life is good.