Need a night out? I mean a whole night out? Try the Knox County Council. The financial body of Knox County government meets each month at the Fortnightly Building in Vincennes and if your bottom can stand the strain, you will learn a whole lot about how our county works. Most of us could not name three members of the board eventhough we elected them. (They are Republicans Jim Beery, Nicole Like, and Randy Crismore and Democrats Steve Thais, David Culp, Mike Thompson, and Bob Lechner.) Most of us probably didn't vote in the last election with County Council races anyway.
Let's get back to the night out... Each meeting is scheduled for 6 pm but don't rush from work or skip dinner - more about that later. They never start on time. The pledge starts out the meeting when the participants finally arrive - most of the time from small, private committee meetings, and chat sessions with office holders and other people who want something from the county. Next is a prayer by one of the better prayers around these parts - Jim Beery. Following that is a somewhat unorganized filling out of an agenda, changing the order of the agenda, adding and subtracting items based on the people sitting in the room and their other plans for that night. Then the real fun begins. Settle in for a night of questions, answers, votes, no votes, discussion, and sidebars - some are explained to the audience and some are not. And sometimes good work gets done.
Council members get up, move around, dissappear into the kitchen, head to the back of the room to chat with someone (who no doubt needs chatting with) and the process stops cold. It seems that all members present must be seated before any attempt to move on starts. That's where the whole eating dinner before the meeting comes in. You can tell the office holders and citizens who failed in the most important prerequisit to attending a County Council Meeting. They rubs their heads, look around like it isn't their stomach screaming for food, they longlingly look at the kitchen where the Council members dissappear thinking there may be food for them in there, and generally get fidigity.
The Council is always looking for new income to help our county and their meetings might offer some small source. Set up a food stand. And if Jim Beery can cook as well as he can pray, the place will be packed and the county's business will get done by happy people.
A couple of final points: Don't take your wife to a County Council meeting for your anniversary unless you're looking for a lawyer - there are always plenty of suits in the audience. And for full disclosure, I don't know how the County Council meetings end. They may actually break out the burgers and brews at the end. I don't know because I haven't been able to stick them out all the way to the end.