When there's nothing especially noteworthy on the Council agenda, Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele is a worthy substitute for substantive debate. Last night's theatrics were so entertaining that Brenda Konkel even assigned Thuy points for every motion and rhetorical device she employed to shame her colleagues, especially Council President Mark Clear.
People at the meeting were visibly agitated with Thuy's grandstanding on a variety of items that were meant to pass unanimously. The first was the provisional reappointment of Mark Olinger as director of Planning and Community and Economic Development. Thuy wondered why the city still couldn't find a permanent employee for the position. When city staff informed her that the city has received applications and hopes to conduct interviews soon, she responded "I don't want city regulation to be based on hope." (A great anti-Obama talking point)
Ald. Michael Schumacher then entered an amendment to pacify Thuy, mandating that the provisional appointment would last no longer than six months. Everybody seemed to agree that it was a reasonable way to shut up their least favorite colleague (educated guess), except the visibly irritated Ald. Steve King, who defiantly voted against the measure. King gave me this response later about his vote.
I work in human resources professionally and I voted against it for the same reasons that Alder Schumacher pointed out.. Government recruiting is a difficult process and it's not that unusual for it to take some time to find well-qualified candidates. I think Alder Pham-Remmele made her point, and I did not feel it warranted a change to the resolution. If we decide in 6 months that we want to look at it, we can do that anyway.
However, the real trouble started on the next item, the appointment of David Dryer as City Engineer. Thuy had requested the measure be "separated" for debate, but then apparently did not respond when Clear asked if there was any discussion on the measure. Seeing none, he moved to a vote on the appointment. It passed on a voice vote with no objections. Then Thuy flipped, accusing Clear of ignoring her, and saying she wanted to speak.
"Mr. President...what is going on," she asked hopelessly. "You ignore me!"
After apologizing to Thuy if he didn't see her, Clear asks the Council if it wishes to reconsider the motion (let her speak). Even though he and President Pro Tem Lauren Cnare voted in favor, only eight alders voted for Thuy. You can be sure it would have been very different if it had been another alder asking for reconsideration.
The ensuing argument between Clear and Thuy was so awkward. She kept asking to speak on a motion her colleagues had voted not to discuss, and all he can tell her is that if she wishes to speak on the next item she can. You've gotta feel for the guy.
Later, when Thuy was decrying the shifting of money from one streets project to another, and continued to reference the "taxpayers money," Schumacher made a pointed criticism: "The alder from the 20th district makes these comments like she's a fiscal watchdog," he said. He claimed it was an important point to make for all the non-political junkies watching.
"I am a very plain citizen," Thuy responded. "I'm not a junkie."
The irony, of course, is that somebody who serves in government probably should be somewhat of a junkie for the work she does on behalf of the taxpayers. However, you have to hand it to her when she added that "I do not have the privilege of serving 12 committees and commissions."
And finally, she delivered this response to Ald. Tim Bruer, after he chided her for not notifying him of questions she had about a project in his district. "Alder, if I had a dime for every minute you speak, I'd be rich."