City Hall revisited: Don't wear sandals, try to avoid the scandals

June 02, 1997

So this is how it starts.

A new regime, a new beginning, a new deal, a new covenant, a new mayor and council in the City of Hagerstown.

It starts with - a song and dance?

I had to read this story twice: "Hagerstown's new mayor and City Council members will sing their way into office Monday during a swearing-in ceremony and reception."

Great. We elect a council and get a cabaret.

"There comes a time when you have to seize the moment," said councilman-elect Wally McClure. "There's a euphoria, an excitement, a buzz on the streets."


To which new councilman Al Boyer basically said there's a buzz all right, but it ain't in the streets. "With all due respect, all this euphoria you talk about didn't show up at the polls," he said.

Hoo boy, here we go.

Apparently, there was an element on the council not too tickled with the thought of marching into the chambers singing "76 Trombones," locking arms and kicking out their legs like some short-skirted lineup of New York City chorus girls.

But heck, maybe government could use a little mirth and wackiness. It's working for the County Commissioners.

"The power of music cannot be overlooked," said McClure. That's true for Heifetz. But Hagerstown? To McClure's credit, it's nice to hear an elected official so exuberant and optimistic about the job.

Maybe we can even tie this in to the Western Maryland Blues Fest. Mayor Bruchey sings the "Subterranean Hagerstown Blues." Maybe you haven't noticed, but that song has a number of local government ties.

(The street department: I'm on the pavement/thinking about the government.)

The council's big on the Battle of Antietam. Maybe a little fife and drum corps would be universally acceptable.

The mayor and council, as a group, sang "God Bless America."

(The fire department: Better stay away from those/That carry around a fire hose.)

Then individual council members could break in with a medley of their own: Susan Saum-Wicklein singing "Civil War" by Guns 'n Roses; Wally McClure singing "Piano Man," by Billy Joel; Al Boyer singing "867-5309" by Tommy Tutone, Lew Metzner singing "Lawyers Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon, and Bill Breichner singing "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple.

(Girl by the whirlpool/Looking for a new fool. Oh wait, that's the school board. My mistake.)

OK, OK, anyone can do singing - but what of the glorious choreography we came to love in the Sager Administration?

And does Steve get to sing too about his lost seat? Maybe "Bye Bye Love" by the Cars? Or perhaps "My Way," or "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

(The sewer department: Jump down a manhole/light yourself a candle.)

Perhaps the mayor-elect has a good chance to set a new tone here. I would have suggested he sing "Come Together" by the Beatles, but seeing as how the council couldn't even make it through an organizational meeting without squabbling about the time for the singing-in ceremony, that doesn't look like a promising theme.

(The water department: The pump don't work/cause the vandals took the handles.)

The city charter sternly states that the swearing-in ceremony must take place the second Monday following the election at 8 p.m. I wonder what possessed the writers of the charter to be so specific? This is the Hub City, maybe the authors also drew up train schedules.

(Traffic patrol: Don't follow leaders/watch the parking meters.)

But the new mayor's son had a baseball game at 7:30, so he wanted the ceremony at 6. All right, 6 versus 8 p.m. for a singing-in ceremony isn't Paula Corbin Jones versus William Jefferson Clinton, but I think there was a good compromise out there that wouldn't have involved the Supreme Court: Have the swearing-in at the ball diamond.

"Do you solemnly swear to (Get dressed/get blessed/try to be a success.") A-men.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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