The people who attend Clear Lake Shores's city council meetings get started early...and we're not talking about the recitation of the pledge of allegiance.
Last week, Hair Balls was copied on a letter written to Galveston County assistant district attorney Donna Cameron by Jean Garst, a 28-year resident of Clear Lake Shores. In it, Garst claims that CLS Mayor Vern Johnson allows the locals to "bring mixed alcohol drinks into city hall during the council meetings" and that this "only serves to increase the air of hatred" that includes "open, sometimes loud name-calling, threats and insults" toward councilmember Tami Perkins. (More on that in a bit.)
Now, we can understand sneaking in a flask of whiskey to take the boredom edge off of hearing Mr. and Mrs. Blah Councilperson pointing out grammatical errors in a proposed ordinance. But openly boozing it up inside of a city-owned building?
That's indeed the case, according to a blog maintained by a Clear Lake Shores resident. In fact, blog author IslandDrumz is bummed that Perkins -- who former CLS mayor Kathy McIntyre says has been flipped off by residents during city council meetings -- wants to ban alcohol from the proceedings.
"Anyone heard the latest? Councilman [our note: she's a woman, by the way] Perkins wants to ban alcohol from City Council meetings," writes IslandDrumz in an October 31 post. "I guess the next practical step is banning it in] golf carts, then parks then outdoors. I guess she's on a sprint to see how much crap she can get done in the next 194 days. Come early tomorrow night or you're going to be standing."
Last night, Hair Balls made the trek to the waterside town of 1,063 residents for the city council meeting.
Did it turn out to be a frat party? Definitely not. We can't even say for certain if alcohol, as Garst and IslandDrumz suggest, was flowing. That's because we weren't able to sample the unidentified liquids that sloshed around in ice-outfitted receptacles.We did witness one resident clutching a clear, hard, plastic cup with a palm tree decoration. He twice walked back into the kitchen area and added ice cubes to the transparent-colored drink. Probably ice water, though we later found out from Garst that that particular dude allegedly "practically fell down drunk at the last city council meeting."
In terms of elected officials, next to councilman Al Burns's iPad was an aluminum can covered in a Corona koozie, and Mayor Johnson had a Styrofoam cup next to him as he got into it with councilwoman Perkins, but obviously those containers could hold perfectly acceptable liquids.
Though there weren't any knock-downs and drag-outs, the atmosphere was definitely chippy.
The apparent point of contention revolves around the recent ousting of former Clear Lake Shores police chief Paul Shelley, who resigned from his post in July amidst allegations (following an investigation initiated by councilwoman Perkins) of nepotism, unfair treatment of officers and mismanagement. Shelley remains Clear Lake Shores's city administrator.
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In October, after a three-month investigation, Shelley was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing. Since then, Shelley supporters as well as Mayor Johnson haven't exactly disguised their apparent ill will towards Perkins.
On Tuesday night, Johnson, as he and Perkins bickered over verbiage in an ordinance that would unanimously pass, was greeted by rousing applause when he told the councilwoman, "I can think of 30,000 reasons why." The figure was in reference to the dollar figure of the Shelley investigation.
"It threatens to break out in violence. People are leaving threatening, cursing, really vicious messages on [Perkins's] voice mail and e-mail," says 23-year CLS resident Adelyn Cooper.
"It's just not good. Nobody hated George Bush more than I did, but I would have been civil to the man to his face. There are people around here that have no breeding and they're just uncivilized."