Sunday, February 5, 2012

You Can't Fight City Hall?

I sat there staring at the meeting notice. Once more City Hall wanted to meet to discuss the curfew ordinance. Once more, if I really gave a flying fig, I was going to have to postpone date night to go keep an eye on the men who rule our city. Once more, I was going to have to do my homework so as to come prepared.

I admit that I was torn inside.
This patriotic citizen thing?
This takes time.
I had left the December meeting with my jaw on the floor at the stunningly bad thinking I had seen by the chief of police, the city attorney, and some of the councilmen.
I had left determined to respond cogently to that flawed thinking the next time this came up.

And then life happened, as it is wont to do.
Holidays, children back to college, church responsibilities, business concerns...
blah, blah, blah.

Oh, I was still hopping mad at what I had seen and heard.
Yet time is the best antidote for passion, and the apathy was starting to creep in.
Besides, this was City Hall.
And you can't fight it!

Nevertheless...something niggled in the back of my brain.
Doing the right thing is not determined by feelings; it is determined by principles...

The thing I had been most aggravated about back in December was that a councilman (and one on our side, too) had told my tireless-patriot friend, Nita, that we couldn't be 'angry.' Now I realize you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. But, doggone-it, I am angry. This is tyranny.

Oh, and there should be no tossing around terms like tyranny.
And it probably won't help to bring up the Constitution.
Or say anything negative about the police.
In fact, Pippin, it would be best if you just said nothing at all.

But I went. And I spoke. And I was nice. You can even ask Nita.

At the last meeting, the chief of police and the city attorney had praised the curfew ordinance as "pre-emptive criminal intervention."
So I mentioned that that was troubling, in light of the--dare I say it--C..C..Constitution.
At the last meeting, several councilmen had mentioned that they didn't want to deprive the police of tools to fight crime.
So I mentioned that they already have tools: laws against truancy and vandalism. And we have a tool for the law-abiding citizens. Oh gosh, I said it again: the Constitution. (I really wasn't trying to be belligerent; I just couldn't think of a synonym for Constitution.)
At the last meeting, the city attorney had said that, under the curfew ordinance, "if the person could provide information" as to why he was not truant, the officer would have to let him go.
So I mentioned my timid 13-year old who would go blank at the mere approach of an officer and probably not remember her name, let alone her address.

I had more to say...
I wanted to respond to the police chief's bizarre comfort in the curfew ordinance granting him power to approach "those with mental health issues."
I wanted to tell remind the Council that disdain and suspicion for the mentally ill is reserved for other political traditions than ours.

A speaker may only talk for three minutes.
So the mayor politely asked me to wrap it up, which is really annoying--especially when the councilmen themselves, in Brett's words, "are allowed to bloviate endlessly" in response to the speakers.

Good things happened that night, just the same.
The man who spoke before I did wasn't a homeschooler.
I don't even know if he is a parent.
In fact, I have no idea where he came from.
He opened with something like, "I support the police in their effort to fight crime." (Oh no.)
"But I support the right of these parents a little more." (Oh yes!)
He reminded the Council of the mess that is the TSA. And he challenged them, "If the government isn't going to fight tyranny at the federal level, then we better start here." (Yes! Yes! Yes!)

So... those dreaded words did come up in the meeting, after all.
And I was glad.
Suddenly, this debate about the curfew ordinance catapulted into the arena of the intelligent!
I sat agog as two council members admitted to being political science majors back in college and voiced some concern about drifting from the C...C...Constitution.
I was amazed when a councilman--NOT me--brought up 'civil liberties.'
I stared wide-eyed as another one said, "I'm really for fewer laws, not more laws."
And I nearly jumped for joy when one council member, after revealing that he had lived in Soviet Russia for a time, said, "Our Constitution is only as good as the collective support behind it."


Could this really be happening in MY city council? Could I really be witnessing MY city council starting to squirm under the realization that they might have passed an ordinance that was patently un-American? Could it be that MY city council was getting the picture that we weren't there so much as homeschoolers--but as Americans?

Miraculously, we witnessed a pragmatic debate over a seemingly insignificant curfew ordinance turn into a discussion regarding the ideals of our nation, our liberty, and our Constitution. We had stopped talking like politicians and homeschoolers, us and them, and we started talking like Americans.

The vote is still two weeks away.
But we might just win this one, not because curfews are inconvenient laws
but because they are bad laws--and because the Constitution is good law.

Maybe you can fight City Hall.


  1. This is awesome Mrs. Adams. We should of had you join us when we spoke at the Central Health of Travis County Board Meeting. I'm enjoying your blog and will be back for more. :)

  2. Thanks, Nathan! I'm glad to have you along! Yes, it would have been interesting to go to that board meeting. Probably a little livelier than our little old suburb. :)