Whatever happened to Doug's annual pep talk to the people?
Each year, come late October or early November, Doug Palmer used to stand in city council chambers and give his state of the city address. To a packed house of invited guests, media, his cabinet and the full council, Mr. Palmer would tell the story of the city’s progress thus far that year and paint a rosy portrait of where it was going in the coming one.
Some years there were slick “annual report” style booklets published and handed out to attendees. Mostly filled with a collection of “photo op” style pictures and glowing prose extolling the ‘successes’ of the current administration.
The speeches were choreographed affairs. There were shout outs to various administration officials, an acknowledgement of some sort to each council member (unless one happened to be “on the outs” with Mr. Palmer at the particular time), and maybe even the singling out of a member of the public or two that were in attendance. There were also designated “applause points” where the language was crafted to create a pause to be filled with at least polite if not always enthusiastic applause.
At the conclusion of the hour long speech, the crowd would be invited to reconvene at a nearby establishment for free finger food and a cash bar.
That was the routine.
Last year, however, that changed. There was no big “state of the city address” at city hall. No big soiree afterwards.
Ostensibly, Mr. Palmer was too involved in last year’s presidential campaign to make time for facing his colleagues and constituents to report on the state of the city. (Right and we all remember who he originally backed in that horse race.). Oh, there was some sort of “report” given to council in January or February that covered the nuts and bolts of the city’s status. But where was the public presentation? The big whoop-tee-do?
There wasn’t one.
And so far, it doesn’t look like there is going to be a big shindig this year either.
Does anyone wonder why?
Could it be that the state of the city is so poor; so fraught with bad news that Mr. Palmer would rather not have to stand at the podium and looks us in the eye and tell us that he has failed miserably?
Does he not want to tell us, yet again, how good a job he has done, despite the fact that the state controls much of the city’s land and won’t fund us accordingly?
Maybe he doesn’t want to face questions about our still failing school system and the yet to be resolved stalemate over rehabbing or building a new high school.
Maybe he doesn’t want to talk anymore about the layoffs of the inspectors or the fact that his acting Business Administrator is refusing to pay people for the work they have done.
Or is it the tenuous predicament of the city library system and the board that continues to do his ill-bidding even after they retired their scapegoat, long-time President Adrienne Hayling?
And there are the silly legal entanglements Palmer continues to get the city into simply because he refuses to acknowledge he’s wrong. Residency cases, illegal pay raises, referendum on the water utility situation.
How could he possibly put a positive spin on any of this?
He can’t. And so there probably won’t be a formal “state of the city” address this year. And no celebratory cocktail party afterwards.
But, hey! There will be a Thanksgiving parade!