By Maynard-Tiffany Wilberforce K.B. “Theobald” Rhiannon-Sanchez Twimbleton
Mad River Union
ARCATA, APRIL 1 – In an official proclamation endorsed at its April 1 meeting, the Arcata City Council has formally commanded Mayor Michael Winkler to curtail the over-the-top, flamboyant displays of wasteful excess, rhetorical and automotive, which have become his signature in office.
The gangly councilmember has been allowing more of his personal style into official proceedings, most visibly with his new, retro-style wardrobe apparently modeled on a 1974 Sears menswear catalog. He’s also adopted a disturbing form of nerd-gangsta slang, playing his boom box on the council dais during meetings and parking his mammoth SUV on the lawn of City Hall.
The custom-built vehicle’s interior is luxuriantly trimmed with fur from endangered Golden Lion Tamarin Monkeys from the Amazon rainforest. Some 600 of the squirrel-sized creatures had to be skinned just for the roof liner.
“A small price to pay, yo!” exulted Winkler.
The vehicle itself is called the Terminator, apparent homage to Winkler’s advocacy for the successful anti-farmer ballot Measure P, which Winkler helped push into law.
During a City Council meeting last year, Winkler used unassailable logic to warn Arcatans that a nonexistent “Terminator” gene might take over the food supply without a new law to make crooks out of farmers who couldn’t use the unapproved technology if they wanted to.
Councilmember Susan Ornelas agreed, pointing out that if progressive agricultural techniques that improve crop yields, nutrition and disease- and drought-resistance took root, certain farmers could have their pals in local government promote laws against others who implement different farming philosophies, and that would be very, very wrong.
"We can't let that happen," she said. "We need agricultural diversity, not a monoculture."
“So what if it was just fear mongering? I got to say ‘terminator!’ ” Winkler exulted. “And I got a sweet name for my ride out of it. Anyway, I was kind of consumed with fact-checking Juan Fernandez around that time, so, respect.”
Misleading the public may be a routine part of the council’s public service, but garish displays of spending are a little too touchy in the current fiscal environment. The council may have to forgo a self-granted pay raise, will probably forfeit hardship pay for having to use two-year-old iPads, and has reduced cognac deliveries and catered lunches to what one councilmember called “starvation levels” of just four days a week.
One council source said an informal pledge among councilmembers to no longer rip off sharpies and whiteout from the city manager’s supply cabinet met with less than-unanimous endorsement.
The Council acted on a 4-0 vote in special session, with Mayor Winkler recusing himself (actually sulking in the City Manager’s Office), to send him a letter that states:
WHEREAS, The City of Arcata has long had a reputation for open public process and flexible punctuality; and
WHEREAS, It now faces a long, tall, pantsuited crisis named Michael Winkler; and
WHEREAS, The word ‘Terminator’ is very scary; and
WHEREAS, So is that hideous vehicle; and
WHEREAS, We can’t hear ourselves think with that stupid boombox blaring
NOW THEREFORE LET IT BE PROCLAIMED, Mayor Winkler, AKA “The Winklenator,” must return to unobtrusive, disheveled nerdity at the earliest possible date; or as he would put it, “dial it back, dawg.”
Dated: April 1, 2015
Winkler’s position on GMOs did get support from one of four citizens who spoke during the typically spittle-flecked Early Oral Communications.
“GMOs are a menace perpetrated by industry and its corporate shill scientists,” said Gary Gruntmuffin. “The real facts are right there on YouTube and Facebook. Do your research!”
The second speaker offered a radically different message.
“Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by socialists and their godless, hate-America scientists,” said Nelda Norberry. “The real facts are right there on YouTube and Facebook. Do your research!”
Next up was an alternative medicine practitioner.
“Vaccines are a hoax perpetrated by Big Pharma and its corporate shill scientists,” said Loretta Loopy. “The real facts are right there on YouTube and Facebook. Do your research!”
Early Oral Communications was rounded out by citizen Brent Slovotsky, who offered his usual apocalyptic praise. “I appreciate the council and staff’s fine work, and you’re all going to end up unloved, penniless and diseased in the gutter,” Slovotsky said.
Later on the agenda was a new proposal to incorporate new SmokeFit™ healthy cigarette smoking guidelines into the latest version of the anti-smoking law. SmokeFit™, the brainchild of Ornelas, involves strenuous exercise while chain smoking.
Though counterintuitive, she said the practice boosts the immune system and that Facebook memes prove this, despite what untrustworthy, corporate-shill doctors and scientists might assert.
“These safe cigarettes are all natural and produced by local organic farmers,” she proclaimed. “They’re non- GMO and gluten free!”
Asked by Councilmember Mark Wheetley which scientists were corrupt, she patiently explained the obvious.
“Damn, man, all of them. Thirty years ago, science was telling us margarine was healthy, and now it says this is dangerous,” Ornelas reasoned.
The mention sent a collective shudder through Council Chamber, as many in attendance were survivors of the Great All-Science Margarine Imposition of 1985 and its ghoulish consequences.
As part of the new law, SmokeFit™ allows a person to puff cigarettes anywhere in town, as long as they are “visibly cavorting” in some vigorous fashion.
Ornelas suggested that specific exercises be themed to certain areas of town. For example, a smoker in Redwood Park could be playing frisbee, or a person traversing the Plaza might be required to somersault across the town square, just as they might in Pepperland.
Told that the requirements and any resulting cardiac arrests could expose the city to liability as well as drycleaning claims, Ornelas instructed the city attorney and police chief to “find a way” to make SmokeFit™ work.
Staff was also directed to add it to the Parks and Rec department’s new “Sensible Smoking” and “Class in Cool” curricula for youth, and to solve world hunger, disarm North Korea and bring peace to the Middle East, then report back in two weeks.
Hooray for us
During council and staff reports, members patted themselves on the back for a productive session.
A freshly chastened Winkler, his three-inch lapels inexplicably smeared with butterscotch topping and what appeared to be gnawed-on Scrabble letters, noted that public process could sometimes be a messy affair.
“But,” he added, holding up a left hand spangled with oversize Zircon-encrusted rings on each finger, “pressure makes diamonds.”
“Damn, man, you’re right,” chimed Ornelas. “Did you see that sweet leadership-fu earlier? When Police Chief Chapman told us he couldn’t enforce a 40 jumping jacks per cigarette minimum at Janes Creek Park, we just told him to try again and report back to us. Now that’s what I call heavy lifting – sparing no effort to do the people’s business.”
The council further consensed that the General Fund Budget Task Force had better apply itself anew to rein in the budget the council has allowed to spiral out of control for years, and without cutting programs or raising fees.
Environmental Services will be sent a memo decreeing that it make Jolly Giant Creek flow with organic craft beer, which the city will market as part of its new DrinkSmart™ fundraising program.
“Those are the kinds of ‘creative solutions’ we were elected to search out,” Ornelas said.