City Council meeting, Jan. 16, 2006

Editorial comment

The Jan. 16 council meeting may have set all kinds of records: the shortest meeting; the smallest audience; the first “in a long string” of meetings providing entertainment; and the meeting in which “sex” was mentioned the most times.

As an aside, Mayor Lance MacLean unveiled what is likely his major contribution of the year – rearranging the meeting agenda to place the flag salute and invocation after the closed session. The city has 18 meetings to go with Mayor MacLean until the next mayor can put God and country before the closed session again.

When MacLean said during the Jan. 3 meeting he would bring “entertainment” to council meetings, some people in the audience laughed out loud. With meetings already rivaling “The Three Stooges,” the demand, instead, is for a more businesslike atmosphere. Considering that two council members – MacLean and Kelley – have probably never experienced a real business meeting in a corporate setting, it’s no surprise that council meetings could soon feature bears on unicycles.

The mayor’s attempt at show biz had a shaky start. The microphone wasn’t working when an octet sang the national anthem a cappella in the keys of A through G major. Throughout the meeting, the big screen randomly flashed, but it failed to register any vote. That’s entertainment.

Was it the city’s shortest-ever council meeting? The presentations and “entertainment” ran from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Council business ended before 7:30. With little business on the agenda, a discussion developed over the difference between “should” and “shall.” MacLean enjoined interim City Attorney Bill Curley to opine. Curley, who charges the city $250 an hour, said there’s no difference. He should have instead used a “life line” and called a 10-year-old child.

Was it the smallest-ever crowd? The number of singers exceeded the number of people who stayed for the meeting – six. The Jan. 16 meeting was in the running, but a blog staffer recalls a 1990 council meeting when only two people attended.

During public comments, a resident referred to a feature story, “Spicing it up,” in The Register on Jan. 11. Gail Sheehy’s book, Sex and the Seasoned Woman, has a Mission Viejo connection – a city commissioner. The general reaction to a 70-something woman discussing her sex life is not Oooh but Eeew! Just throw some cold water on these old folks already. The speaker at the Jan. 16 meeting concluded the city government doesn’t need such spicing up. It could tarnish Mission Viejo’s civic image of buffoonery.

MacLean’s ceremonial stint as mayor will end Dec. 4. A potential ending worth mentioning is the Nov. 7 city election, at which time residents could send out the clowns.