Friday, October 23, 2009

Power and that pesky absolute corruption thingy

The town council representative in our little census tract may see himself as a budding Winston Churchill, but I liken him to Steve Melman, the Window Monitor when I was in the fourth grade.

See, Steve lobbied hard and long for a position no one else wanted because he saw it as a stepping stone. He dreamed big dreams. The biggest dream -- Home Room Proctor.

The role of window monitor required using a long stick with a hook to gently tease the transoms open, or closed, depending on classroom consensus. But within a week, things got weird. Steve started calling himself “Monitor Melman.” Worse, he neglected his duties. The classroom was either too hot or too cold. In his lust for power, Steve decided windows paled next to –- Courtesy Monitor. Though no such thing existed, he decided to create the position and to that end, he started keeping notes. Who was late from recess? Who whispered in class? Who told dirty jokes? In an effort to gather popular opinion to his side, he promised something called a Citizenship Award.

Steve brought a Polaroid Swinger to class. His friend, Monitor Jensen (ball and bats), took the pictures as Steve handed out Tootsie Rolls to a thoroughly surprised Tina Sills, the first weekly good citizen. The pictures appeared on the bulletin board without teacher’s permission. We suspected Jensen, but lacked the proof.

The first to complain about Steve was Jim Stark, Chalkboard and Eraser Monitor. (Yes, it was a man’s world.) He gathered a few of us, the 4th grade athletes, including Kent Russell. We all agreed -- Steve could take all the notes he wanted in the privacy of his own home, but his job at school was to open windows, and, of course, close them. “Besides,” said Kent. “Next thing you know we’ll have to call him Venerable.” Though none of us knew what that meant, we nodded sagely. As our Book Monitor, we trusted Kent when it came to vocabulary words and spelling.

Our ducks in a row, we approached Terry Emery, 4th grade Home Room Proctor and major hunk.

When Steve Melman sensed his reign of terror might be in jeopardy, he jumped all protocol and complained directly to our teacher Mrs. Clapp, and our principal Mr. Jessup. Playing fast and loose with timeline and events, Melman thought he sealed his case with a shocking accusation: Terry Emery had called him “Doo-doo head” while on the german dodgeball court.

It promised to be a bloodbath. Investigations, suspended privileges. Although Steve admitted nothing, he did cry, and somehow that brought the whole political machine to a screaming halt.

Well, that’s the whole story really. After some advertures of his own, the town council window monitor for our little census tract has apparently filed a series of complaints -- either pre emptive or retaliatory -- against our council proctor. Included in the complaints, allegations of “Doo-doo head” (or something similar), being bandied about within closed and sacred chambers.

Damn, we get Watergate, or birdbath gate, or thimblegate, when all we wanted were a couple of stop signs and a speed bump. And it’s a pity; I had such high hopes. Of all the town council monitors, at least ours knew how to dress.

47 comments:

  1. I think you gals/guys up north should complain to your Mayor! Only then will you see some real action.

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  2. Either you have all your school photos and yearbooks or you have fabulous long-term memory, KB. OR you're still friends with some of your former classmates.

    I don't know anything about elected doo doo heads but several years ago the Pensacola News Journal gleefully reported that one of our City Council members went to the necessary room and relieved himself without turning his microphone off. I guess you could say it was a slow news day.

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  3. Let me guess -- your town council representative refers to himself as "The Honorable." Well, so did those of us in middle school student council. We were terribly unpopular.

    Hon. GG

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  4. Melman must have been a piece of work. After all, he won the drama competition.

    "German Dodge Ball Court"? Is German dodge ball a game or was the court somehow german?

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  5. Good golly! Your memory terrifies me.

    Funny though the things that gave us a sense of power in grade school. I got to beat the erasers once. I came home a mess and my mother ordered that I would never do that again.

    I guess it was for the better. Had I continued, I may have become drunk with powder power and eventually ended up like our (dis)honorable council member.

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  6. This was a shock to me, I had prepared a nice comment, but.

    Susan, lets go drunk together.

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  7. Well! Have you considered the alternative! ...Total anarchy!
    Our way of life doesn't come without a price, missie!

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  8. --- must ... stop .. laughing ... can't ... breathe ....

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  9. Ok, I just spewed wine! I had a favorite line but there were too many so I can't find it. KB, somebody needs to give you a real job. Your talent is wasted on the likes of us. But...if you hit the big time, will you still keep us all happy?

    BTW, your city council may not be up to snuff. Our illustrious mayor is on trial! :) He's a crook to the core and will probably WALK. Have a nice day.

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  10. I don't care if you made it up. It's damn funny.

    I haven't been keeping up with Altadena politics. I can hardly bear to pay attention to my Neighborhood Watch and my husband's block captain (oh, the anguish of a political wife).

    I'll go google a group photo of the Altadena town council and pick out the snappy dresser.

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  11. Damn. You have to print this just as I start fundraising for my campaign--

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  12. After a long good night sleep, I can only say:

    Have a nice DAY (!), actually I mean week-end.

    We got to see.

    L Y

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  13. Thank you for the laughs, Hiker!! And I'm now wondering, do 'proctor' and 'proctologist' come from the same Latin root?

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  14. Susan, dodged that bullet, didn't you.

    Petrea, it's just one small step from block captain to town council.

    As I recall, Earl, german dodgeball used the volleyball court -- two opposing teams that tried to smash the hell out of eachother with a ball about the size of a basketball. I'm sure it's illegal now.

    Virg, your picture yesterday did it for me. That one is too good to lose.

    Shell, if our book monitor were around, he'd know. Don't ask Dez, she's Food Monitor.

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  15. You know if you run for anything now you'll win. But you have at least one nattily dressed enemy.

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  16. I became the first Neighborhood Watch Block Captain in my little Mount Washington/Glassell Park hood. I called an initial get acquainted meeting at our house and had a nice turnout. About two days later, there was a break-in and I lost computers, televisions, books, etc., etc., We were new in the area and I had not required my requisite Great Dane. I got a nice rescue pooch, who loved to stand up in the front picture window overlooking the street and greet passersby. Funny thing. No more uninvited guests. Also, no more meetings at the manor

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  17. Nice literary license. You hit the nail on the head, almost. Altadena politics in general is an elementary school drama, and the players like to make a big deal out of nothing, whether it is in a negative way or a positive way. It's all just cheap entertainment.

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  18. How fun now the ATC has once again become as funny as all the other uninteresting reality shows on TV. Good news is no commercial breaks. Oh wait did the Honorable not throw in a couple of commercials or has the show become the commercial?

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  19. Just to be correct and polite: Can I go to bed now?

    Give LIZ my northern regards about the gigantic art.

    As always....

    someone trying to mess up here!

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  20. Whenever I hear any stories of the goofball shenanigans Chicago's aldermen--which is to say any time I hear anything at all concerning our aldermen--I think that I should run for office, to bring a little, I don't know, intelligence to the City Council. But then I remember Robert' Rules of Order. "It has been moved and seconded..." "The minutes of the last meeting stand approved..." I know I would have to be talked in off the Council window ledge in the first five minutes, perhaps by Monitor Melman.

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  21. You nailed it. I attended the ATC meeting this past week for the first time. The last half of the meeting was dominated by pathetic displays of ignorance and self-aggrandizement on the part of Altadena's own Steve Melman. This guy was actually elected?

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  22. Just one more fan here in awe of your memory. And yes, what's more corrupt than elementary school? Was there also a Bernie M. in your class?

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  23. We don't grow up, we just get taller.

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  24. I wanted to see what Steve Melman looked like so I tried Google Images and got ... Mr Earl. Huh??

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  25. Ms. Karin Bugge,

    Thank you for your analogy. Maybe I can hire you to write my next comedy. Actually, I was thinking about an Altadena Town Council/ Saturday Night Live -style reality show. If all you wanted were stop signs and speed bumps, you can contact the Traffic Committee (Chairman Ken Johnson - kjohnson@ci.burbank.ca.us) with your concerns. The Traffic Committee meets every first Monday at 7PM at the Altadena Community Center (730 E. Altadena Dr.).
    Although I took my time to knock on every single door in the Census Tract and obviously obtained your e-mail address from you, I've never received one request from you as far as anything you've needed. Please feel free to contact me at any time, and I will do my best to address whatever concerns you have.
    Also, please refer to www.Altadenans.com for the latest information and updates in our community. There are always two sides to every story. For the other side of the story, you can refer to Altadenans.com.
    - Steve Melman, Window Monitor

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  26. See what happens when you get involved in blogger politics? Maybe Melman is the real Dormitas.

    Congratulations on knowing the word "transomes" I'm currently looking for the proper term for those wire carts elderly people push when they walk about. It's not push cart.

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  27. PA: Are you referring to the Folding Wire Basket Style Shopping Cart With Wheels?

    http://www.nfss.com/sc-w.html

    Say it like a football cheer:

    Folding Wire Basket Style Shopping Cart With Wheels

    Get into a rhythm:

    Folding Wire Basket Style Shopping Cart With Wheels

    Folding Wire Basket Style Shopping Cart With Wheels

    Folding Wire Basket Style Shopping Cart With Wheels

    YAY!!!!!!!

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  28. Steve,
    Thanks for being a good sport and for stopping by.

    Just one point of order: I did email my concerns re: traffic early on and you referred me elsewhere. BUT as the Indy 500 around here directly affects this little census tract, I did hope -- tho not a glamorous issue -- it would be something a council rep would choose to champion.

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  29. BeLLis, u saying Melman turned up MrEarl?? Sounds like the MrE lookalike in front of me one day gobbling up the food in the food sample lines one day!

    btw, do Altadeners have the right to vote - like the people in Florida, for example?

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  30. Things are so always so interesting around here!

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  31. Ah, direct line to Steve, I’m impressed!
    I think you should develop that citizenship further, just be correct and polit.

    Earl, I think that name of the device say it all, much more than any picture or drawing.
    About the football cheer; are we talking about American or Soccer?
    I think that rhythm is very good for the mood here.

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  32. yay Mr E!.

    Thats exactly what I was looking for. I left out "folding" in my google search. Now if I can find one cheap on Mr C's list......lugging bags of clay from car to kiln will be a more pleasant experience.

    (then I can dump my present "Folding Wire Basket Style Shopping Cart With Wheels" on the curb where I found it)

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  33. Interesting that no one responds to "Steve" except you, Karin. Do we feel bad about our rollicking fun-making?

    Your reply was nice without backing down. I like that you actually have a case to make. You really did ask for something. You really weren't heard.

    I wouldn't be in politics for anything, though.

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  34. Actually, P, there's more to it than that. Some council, uhm, infighting that leave me disinterested and frustrated when there are many more important issues about town that should be addressed.

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  35. See why I stay out of politics? I'm already in over my head.

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  36. Such an accurate portrayal of 4th grade, when junior Robespierres try out their fledgling stuff.

    Sooooo funny and very well told--brava!

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  37. I"m sorry KB but this is penny ante stuff you've got going there in Altadena. Why here in B"ham our illustrious (industrious) mayor is currently on trial for good ole American corruption.

    "If that wasn't enough, federal prosecutors in Langford's corruption trial charged he used his power and influence as then-president of the Jefferson County Commission to trade millions of dollars in county business for cash and gifts."

    Oh and the cherry on this sundae is that he stands a really good chance of walking!!!
    Top that!

    V

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  38. I'm with Mr. Earl---we had dodgeball but I never heard it called "German." Might it have been a regional thing?

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  39. Excellent, KB, and I love the analogy!

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  40. Well, I don't know anything about Altadena politics, but I do know that when my daughter was in fourth grade a boy started a fire in the bathroom.

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  41. Margaret wins the Mr. Earl Award for the best comment:

    "Well, I don't know anything about Altadena politics, but I do know that when my daughter was in fourth grade a boy started a fire in the bathroom."

    Which is pretty much all you need to know about local politics.

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  42. I'm on the ATC and thought I was the best dressed!? ;-) I think your analogy is very good. Most of us [on the ATC] volunteer our time to try and help the community. It is such a shame that we have to waste our valuable time on the a member or two who only want to complain, distract and showboat.


    Honorable "Kent Russell"

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  43. No Kent, but you did win the swimsuit competition.

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  44. I'm with Virginia...nearly spewed out my coffee (too early here in SoCal for wine...darn it!!!)

    As for Margaret's remembrances of her daughter's classmate setting the fire...from my 4th grade, what I remember was one of the girls squatting and peeing on the floor in front of the library shelves in the room, one little girl who wore pantyhose (she was an "actress" and was in Hitchcock's "The Birds"), and Peter Linneman...and my very first kiss!!! (don't get too excited... a peck is more the correct term!)

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  45. I'm new to your blog, I must say I find it incredibly satisfying. You know,as I read my email regarding the current sitch, all this drama is like watching the evening news on(pick your news provider) and saying quietly in your head, 'wait did he just say that?'. BUT THERE MAY NOT BE ANYONE ELSE IN THE ROOM TO CORROBORATE THE LUNACY OF STORY JUST REPORTED.
    I'm so happy to have found more voices in my head. misssmartee

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