Friday, February 22, 2013
Playing catch-up on Mentor City Council
Going to the first city council meeting is very similar to
reading a new novel without the first few chapters. The same questions pop into
my head in both circumstances. Who are these people? What are they talking
about? Why should I care? What exactly
is the conflict? Is there even a conflict?
This week was my first Mentor City Council meeting, and it
was a game of catch-up. It turns even more awkward when you’re assigned to cover
the meeting for a news outlet. Thankfully, Betsy Scott covered the big story atthe meeting.
I idled in my chair scanning through name tags and faces, and
matching them up with the officer’s list on my agenda. It took only a few
minutes to deduce who on the booth was Mentor’s City Manager.
I’ve covered other city council meetings before: once in
Orchard Park, N.Y., and a half dozen in Kent, Ohio. Each city council has
different conflicts, different rules and different backstories.
They also have different hot-button issues that lure
residents to share passionate soap-box speeches on the podium. In Orchard Park,
it was stonewalling commercial development for pedestrian safety. In Kent, it
was isolating long-term residents away from student housing and its line of
destruction. At this week’s Mentor City Council meeting, I learned that someMentor residents care deeply about the deer population.
Some would say too
Two residents rose to the podium at last Tuesday’s meeting
to demonstrate their anger over how many deer were killed in Mentor Lagoon this
“The signs at Mentor Lagoons read ‘Mentor Lagoon – Nature Preserve,’”
said one resident, Barbara Welker of Mentor. “I think they need new signs.
Maybe ‘Wildlife Kill Zone.’ There isn’t one deer left—let alone a herd--in the
I don’t have the background or insight to know which side in
this deer fight is wrong or misinformed. But like any great thriller novel, the
characters have compelled me to read, listen and follow along to how this
conflict unfolds and whether any new surprises arise. Passionate advocates are
almost always the elements of a gripping story, and I am very interested to
learn more about this fight.