From the April 1 edition of Street Roots. (The April Fools edition was one of the most popular Street Roots ever published. We sold out of the newspaper in a week and ordered more. It’s on the streets for two more days – get your copy while it’s hot!)
Portland City Council officials were forced to postpone several pressing agenda items this week after their habitual praising of their own accomplishments ran even longer than usual.
When their April 1 meeting convened, council members unveiled their new set of swivel chairs, which they will sit in to deliberate city policy and hear testimony from the public. Commissioner Nick Fish spearheaded the acquisition of new furniture after a wheel broke loose from his previous chair, leaving it with a lean and prompting concern about the safety of all the council seats.
The commissioners often take time to acknowledge the work of their colleagues when a policy passes or a project kicks off, but they seemed especially pleased about this project.
“This morning has literally been hours – or even days – in the making,” Fish said as he sank into his plush new seat. “But I think I can speak for the rest of council when I say that it’s been a real labor of love. Before we continue, I want to make sure we recognize the people who spent significant amounts of time and energy making this happen.
“First,” Fish went on, “I want to recognize Roger Stillman of the Office Depot furniture department, without whom this really would not have been possible. It has truly been an honor to work with Roger, who was kind enough to walk me through the office chair aisle and offer his opinions and support.
“I’d also like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, chief of maintenance Edgar Delgado, who had to unpackage the chairs and screw all of the pieces together. And boy, you practically need a whole new committee to read those instructions,” Fish added with a chuckle. (The Furniture Assembly and Regulation Team appointed by former Mayor Tom Potter was cut in 2007 for lack of funding.)
Fish then presented Stillman and Delgado, who were in the audience, with the city’s first-ever “Spirit of Furniture” awards.
“I’d like to pause for a moment,” declared Commissioner Randy Leonard, swiveling his chair toward Fish and steepling his fingers under his chin, “to recognize what a great orator Commissioner Fish has become. It has truly been a pleasure to watch.”Leonard then launched into a lengthy meditation on the history of distinguished rhetoric. “Not since Frank Lloyd Wright, however, has a speech about furniture stirred me so profoundly,” he concluded.
The packed council chamber erupted in applause. As the cheers died down, Commissioner Amanda Fritz reached down to adjust her own new chair’s pneumatic column to a more fitting height.
“Nick, I commend your initiative in bringing the issue of unstable furniture to our attention,” Fritz said. “I also note that the up-and-down mechanism on these new chairs glides smoothly and without inordinate noise, meaning the business of council will not be interrupted if we need to adjust our posture. You really have done your due diligence on this one.”
Commissioner Dan Saltzman, known as the council’s stalwart realist, surprised his fellow council members by speaking out against the new chairs.
“While I certainly recognize the importance of council furniture in general, and seating in particular, I find that I cannot in good conscience support these chairs,” Saltzman said. “Having taken into account the chairs’ sensible price, comfortable back support and – I’ll admit – superior rolliness, I still find that the embroidery pattern on these seats is too ugly to make them a wise choice for the city at this time.”
Fish assured Fritz that although they disagreed on the issue of chair style, he was sincerely grateful for her dissenting opinion and her commitment to high standards of interior design.
“The input of all my colleagues in this process has been invaluable to me,” Fish said, boosting his chair to its full height for greater effect. “I’m enormously proud of all the work we have done, the changes we have made, and the fact that we all showed up to work today to test these things out. In fact, I’m reminded of the words of Barack Obama, whom I always find inspiring.”
Fish began to quote the president but was interrupted by the council clerk, who announced that the council session had run out of time. The remaining agenda items, including an emergency ordinance regulating sewage overflow, were deferred to the next week’s meeting.
Mayor Sam Adams was not available for comment.
By rusty bearings