The Scourge of E-Scooters – and the City Council’s Lack of Self-Awareness

GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)

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 M the Media Project

About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words

Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.

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Sometimes it takes what appears to be a minor issue in City Government to display to the Citizens the unseriousness of their City Government.

The Citizens simply do not understand why the City Councillors do not engage in debate and discussion at their City Council Meetings when critical issues and matters are being decided.

But, when the mundane trivialities of governmental nonsense come up, some of them suddenly find the ability to speak.

Yes, they will talk about the food truck festival, or “make sure you vote tomorrow,” you know, the platitudes, pablum, bromides, and nonsense you hear at “New Business.”  But, when it comes to the Government Regulations that critically effect the Citizens, we hear peepers and crickets.

For some good examples of this, watch the City Council meeting on May 16, 2022 on YouTube.

The City Councillors were addressing e-scooters and yard sales (and, of course, rubber-stamp appointments and telephone poles).

But your Government also considered serious Government Regulations that effect your lives and freedoms.  This was under the guise of addressing “nuisances” on the part of homeowners and building owners – i.e., those of us who are not keeping our homes and buildings “maintained” up to the City’s high standards of beauty and aesthetics.

The ideas for the City Council actually came from the Mayor (de facto City Councillor #12 – Councillor Michael Nicholson). 

Yes, we can rest easy: the two branches of government are still acting as one in a 100% uni-branched City Government, devoid of a separation of powers.  It’s much easier for your ruling class to make decisions if there is only one branch instead of two (and one side of every issue, instead of two). For them that’s just common sense (and anti-democratic, but let’s not be petty).

The mayor’s first legislative idea was that the City yard sales should begin at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.  The City Council wholeheartedly agreed – in a unanimous vote of approval.

The City is now a better place.  No more locking up Grandma for opening her yard sale at 8:30 Those “Free Grandma” signs worked! Thank goodness for Government. Without our City Government we would all be in bondage.

The mayor’s second legislative idea was to increase Governmental Regulation over our lives and our freedoms regarding what your City lords see as the control of your land, homes, buildings, and property – you know, “nuisances.”

These are the Government overreaches that make the Gardner City Councillors mute.  It’s as if their ability to speak and the negative impact of a regulation upon the lives and freedoms of the Citizens are inversely proportional – the former disappears as the latter increases.

The mayor thought it would be a good idea to legislate more regulations on property owners – which, of course, includes every homeowner in the City.  He did this under the auspices of addressing “nuisances.”

It’s for your own safety, so who cares about your freedoms? Sound familiar?

Once again, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the mayor’s legislative ideas.  If the mayor didn’t have legislative ideas, the City Council would not have any.  The mayor should be getting a City Councillor’s salary (there’s a legislative idea maybe an actual City Councillor can put into words for next meeting).

Of course, and not amazingly, there was zero discussion or debate on the City Council about all those severe governmental regulations they are imposing on us. Zero. Peepers and crickets.  It’s nothing new, of course.  When some city regulation is about to critically affect the lives and freedoms of the Citizens, the City Council herd is on mute, anesthetized, catatonic.

We will explain these new Government Regulations in our next segment.  You won’t want to miss that one.

But, when it comes to something more interesting to the Councillors, like food trucks, chair luges, fireworks, someone’s birthday, someone’s death, or filming a video that no normal person will ever watch – sometimes the tadpoles grow gills.  The silence turns into something more than chirping.

A stark example of this was in full regalia at that May 16th meeting. 

When the innocuous (and “green”) feel-good issue of the use of e-scooters and electric scooters came up, it was a matter that gets referred to a City Council subcommittee for study (in this case, the Safety Committee).  So, the motion was made to refer it to the Safety Committee.

In City Government, every motion must get a “second,” or it’s dead.  Without a “second,” no one can discuss the issue being moved.  A “second” is when another Councillor (one that did not make the motion) says “second.”  It’s not hard (in fact, nothing’s easier, or quicker). 

But this was e-scooters.  I mean, this poses an existential threat to the City.  So, as one would expect, the Council President totally lost control of the procedural posture of the Meeting. As a result, six (6) Councillors actually spoke!

It wasn’t President Kazinskas’ fault.  She was caught off-guard by her BFF, Councillor Tyros – who, for the first time, in an unexpected act of ad-libbing spoke without reading from a pre-digested script.

Without a proper motion on the floor, 6 Councillors (a quorum) felt compelled to speak about the scourge of e-scooters.  It’s life and death, you know.  In fact, it’s worse than the grandmothers’ yard sales starting before 9 a.m. even.

We appreciate Tyros’ superior virtues regarding the protection of the Citizens’ sensitivities regarding the dead.  We now have learned that you can’t have a discussion of e-scooters without talking about cemeteries.

Being delicately immodest, Tyros announced (with an air of aplomb and self-congratulation) that he has “helped take care of St. John’s Cemetery.”  Therefore, of all humans, Tyros would know what kind of desecration e-scooters can do to a cemetery.  After all, Tyros is the self-appointed cemetery expert – I mean, come on, he took care of St. John’s (seemingly, all by himself).

Of course!  That gives George Tyros the unique life experience required in such a vastly critical act of Governmental Regulation (the scourge of e-scooters).

Who would ever have known that it’s not just “respect” that should be given to cemetery occupants and guests, as Tyros taught us, but also that “safety” is something to be considered at cemeteries? Brilliant.

Tyros’ life experience came in handy.  It really saved the day.  We are blessed that he decided to speak.  According to Tyros, the cemetery expert, e-scooters present an unavoidable “safety” threat in cemeteries.  What do the rest of us know about cemeteries, anyway?

Since the cadavers who reside six feet under at the cemeteries don’t care if a rider of an e-scooter passes silently by their tombs to put a flowerpot on Auntie Florence’s plot, we presume that Tyros was referring to the living mourners. 

Apparently, a living mourner could never bear the danger and unforgiveable disruption of a rider of a silent e-bike at St. John’s Cemetery quietly (and greenily) placing petunias on Auntie’s grave.  But, are otherwise undisturbed by riders of ear-deafening Harley Davidsons and Pick-Up Trucks who get free reign to course through the cemeteries at will, blaring Lynyrd Skynryd from their radios. 

Seriously, George? Let’s ban all vehicles in cemeteries – unless they are loud (like Harleys), George.

But idiocy is not the point here.

The point here is that the Councillors speak when there is no reason to speak, and when their stulted, almost unintelligible and banal speech is actually the opposite of common sense and grates against productive governing.  In this case, we had the added assault that no Councillor had the procedural right to speak at all.

Meanwhile, the Councillors stay mum, dumb, and mute when, at the very same meeting, they adopted critical and severe Governmental Regulations (posed as legislative action by the City’s chief executive officer) against the freedoms of the Citizens – without one spoken word. 

Not even to tell the Citizens what they are doing, why, or the effect of it. It’s almost impossible to the creative imagination to devise a fictional depiction of this utter lack of self-awareness. Thankfully, we don’t have to – it’s on YouTube.

This meeting is a living example of an illustration in governmental buffoonery, in full display.

Again, the Council President, without a matter properly on the floor for governmental discussion, allowed not only Tyros to pontificate about the seminal dangers of e-scooters to cemeteries, but also allowed Councillor Boone, Councillor Boudreau, Councillor Heath, and Councillor Mack (who requested out loud that Councilor, oops… I mean to say MAYOR Nicholson expressly speak, as well), to speak. 

It was an embarrassment of riches in terms of Governmentspeak.  It’s been about 5 or 6 years since that many Councillors opened their mouths to speak on any issue (even a silly one like the scourge of e-scooters). 

The City Council President was finally advised by the two elder (and seemingly perpetual) members of the City Council – who whisper in each other’s ear on a regular basis to figure things out for the Council President – that the discussion was out of order.  It took Waldorf and Statler (of Muppets fame) awhile to catch on and alert the President that the meeting had gone down a dirt road, but they finally did.  The Council President was summoned from her trance as if to say, “Oh, yeah – good point, this is a governmental meeting, right?”

We are not merely picking on the unprofessionalism, cluelessness, and unseriousness of the City Council (although it is quite fun to do so). We are making the point that when the Citizens deserve rigorous debate and discussion on matters of overriding concern, importance, and consequence to the Citizens, there is silence –Citizens then lose out on opportunity after opportunity.

What we are seeing is something descending into a kind of effete governmental callousness. It ain’t good (government is the manifestation of the societal morality of the majority; bad government is the devolution of all faith in the efficacy of such societal morality).

On the other hand, when an absurd or light issue of governmental buffoonery arises, like Tyros’ existential danger of e-scooters to the dead or mourning, or chair luges and food trucks, they trip over themselves to talk nonsense – or, in this case, when it isn’t ever procedurally permissible to be speaking at all. 

The point here is that we don’t have meaningful discussion at City Council Meetings. 

At the same meeting, the government passed regulations controlling the Gardner Citizens under the guise of addressing “nuisances.” We will discuss this next time. But the Government actors just gave themselves a lot more power over us and over our freedoms.

Guess how much discussion they had about those new Regulations? Answer: zero. ZERO.

As they say, the truest form of irony is lost on those without self-awareness.  But, what about us? What’s our excuse for allowing it?

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