The joy of opposing everything


By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]



I think if I was ever on a city council or a school board or a commission or anything like that, I would just vote against everything. Just to be one of those people.

I can imagine it being fun, and I can imagine the conversations between the president of council and me during meetings.

“Alright, we call this meeting to order,” says the president of council. “Only five voting members present tonight. As you know, the president does not vote unless there’s a tie. Everyone has had a chance to review the minutes of the last meeting. Do we have a motion to approve the minutes? Jack makes a motion. Jane seconds. Clerk will call the roll. Jack, yes. Jane, yes. George, yes. Bob, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“No.”

“Is there something incorrect in the minutes?”

“Not that I know of.”

“But you don’t want to approve them?”

“Nope.”

“Uh, well, ok, the minutes stand approved, 4-1. Mr. Abernathy voting no. Ok, next item. This is something Bob brought to our attention. Bob has proposed a resolution commending the second graders for handing out free cookies to residents of the local nursing home. Bob makes a motion to approve, George seconds. Clerk will call the role. Jack, yes. Jane, yes. George, yes. Bob, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“What?”

“That’ll be a no.”

“You don’t want to commend the second graders for handing out free cookies to the residents of the local nursing home?”

“Actually, I do want to. I think it’s a wonderful thing. These kids deserve a pat on the back. But I don’t like Bob. Since it was his idea, I’m voting no.”

“Do you think that not liking Bob is a good reason to vote against something?”

“It’ll have to do. It’s the only reason I got.”

“Alrighty then. Motion passes 4-1, Mr. Abernathy votes no. Next on the agenda, a motion to accept $50,000 left to the city in a will from a local philanthropist to use however we see fit. Jane makes a motion, Jack seconds. Clerk will call the roll. Jack, yes. Jane, yes. George, yes. Bob, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“You don’t want to accept $50,000 for the betterment of our community, no strings attached?”

“I do. I think it’s fantastic. What a generous gesture.”

“So you’re voting yes?”

“No, I’m voting no. We’ll just end up spending it for something that half the town will complain about.”

“We haven’t even talked about how to spend it.”

“Doesn’t matter. It’ll tear the town apart, trust me. I vote no.”

“Ok. Motion passes 4-1. Mr. Abernathy votes no. Next, a resolution to send flowers to the funeral of Matilda Jane Kadidlehopper, who served on this council for 20 years until her retirement. Bob makes a motion to send flowers, George seconds. Clerk will call the roll. Jack, yes. Jane, yes. George, yes. Bob, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“Seriously? You don’t think we should send flowers for Matilda’s funeral?”

“I definitely think we should do that. Matilda was a wonderful human being. She mentored me when I first joined council. I owe everything to her. But it’s important for people to know that we’re not just a rubber stamp for Matilda. Put me down as a no.”

“Ok. Well that’s 4-1 to send flowers. That’s embarrassing. Now, this next item is really important. We have an emergency resolution to accept a $300,000 grant from the state to pave our main highway. The deadline is Tuesday, and if we don’t pass this as an emergency, we’ll lose the money. It takes five votes to suspend the rules and get this passed tonight. Clerk will call the roll. George, yes, Jack, yes, Jane, yes, Bob, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“Seriously, Gary, we really need this grant money. What possible reason could you have to vote no on this?”

“Honestly, I have no reason whatsoever. I’m just voting no.”

“In that case, the vote to suspend the rules and pass the resolution as an emergency fails, 4-1, and we lose $300,000 in grant money. I would ask the clerk to make sure to record who cast the lone vote against the resolution, and I would strongly urge the media to make sure our citizens know that Mr. Abernathy is the one responsible for losing this money.”

“Mr. President?”

“Yes, Mr. Abernathy?”

“I demand that we reconsider the previous matter.”

“Really? Great! Ok then, do we have a motion to reconsider the previous matter and pass an emergency resolution to accept $300,000 in grant money? Gary makes the motion, Jane seconds. Clerk will call the roll. Bob, yes, Jane, yes, George, yes, Jack, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“What? You’re still voting no? Then why did you demand that we reconsider?”

“I thought maybe I would change my mind. But I didn’t.”

“Unbelievable. Well, that wraps up our agenda, thank goodness. Is there a motion to adjourn? Jane so moves, George seconds. Clerk will call the roll. Jack, yes. Jane, yes. George, yes. Bob, yes. Gary?”

“No.”

“No? You don’t want to adjourn?”

“I do want to adjourn. I’m tired, and I want to go home.”

“So you vote yes?”

“I vote no, and I would ask the clerk to note – and the media to make sure to let our citizens know – that the majority of this council, except me, has voted to adjourn even though we just threw away $300,000 in grant money, in spite of the fact that I demanded a second vote on the matter. Now let’s get outta here.”

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

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By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]

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