On Monday I attended the third mayor's task force meeting to deal with some long-time emotional issues pertaining to the truncated teddy, the lionized lion and Alfredo, the waiter in waiting. The peeking giraffe at Bug-A-Boo seems hesitant to get into the fray.




Don Laws began by apologizing for his criticism of the city attorney during the previous meeting. Don said that he was told that the city attorney had been instructed to keep mute on some subjects, as apparently the mayor and perhaps other council members, were concerned that such information might help some unmentioned parties in un-named legal actions against the city. The final result, even after the apology, was that the task force still has no power to compel the city attorney to do anything and that we should all just shut up and trust him. I have faith, but I am not a lemming.




I feel at times that the task force is mostly voting on staff proposals, not acting as an independent party taking a fresh look into the issues. That feeling was only magnified when one of the task force members said, "I make a motion to approve what (staff) just said."




As a member of the Planning Commission for eight years, I fully understand just how complicated a simple issue can become when we all try to anticipate every possible outcome. The task force, regardless of its stacked makeup, is doing one heck of a job, rolling through years of sign ordinance, parking protocol and the sidewalk right-of-way issues at great speed. I am not quite sure how they got into cracking down on those who fall behind in paying their parking tickets (plus a $50 penalty if not paid within a mandated time period). Again, there was much talk of booting and towing.




It might be more effective to place a large sign on the windshield stating that, if something isn't worked out within 10 days, the city will come to your house and tow your car, assuming towing for unpaid parking tickets becomes a new feature of life in Ashland. Sure beats spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to encourage people to come to our town, then having them watch a car getting booted, then towed. The ice cream-licking visitors will naturally fear for their own cars, not knowing that a convoluted process put such nastiness into action.




Through much of the meeting most of us were confused. Motions were made that sounded like briefs before the Supreme Court. Amendments were offered, and then slathered on like cake frosting. It reminded me of Danny Kay in the 1955 classic, "The Court Jester."




Hawkins: I've got it! I've got it! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?




Griselda: Right. But there's been a change: They broke the chalice from the palace!




Hawkins: They broke the chalice from the palace?




Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.




Hawkins: A flagon...?




Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.




Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.




Griselda: Right.




Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?




Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!




Hawkins: The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.




Griselda: Just remember that.




I tip my hat, or bicycle helmet in my case, toward all in attendance: staff, commission members, former council members, mayor and city administrator. I also bow down to the merchants who probably lost income by attending this accelerated process. There is a good chance that something good will come from this great effort, but in the meantime, better make sure that your car has not accumulated any unpaid parking tickets, or daddy will take your T-Bird away.




Lance has begun drafting the windshield warning notice, putting a large smiley face that will face the public. We like those small, friendly touches that make the tourists get all warm and fuzzy. Lance@journalist.com awaits your word.