Today began as “just one of those days.”
I was awakened at 7:30 a.m. by a phone call. I looked at the number and while I recognized that it was a local exchange, I didn’t recognize the exact number. WTF?
I answered it because I wondered who would be calling me so early.
It was the director of our county housing authority. I had called last week, requesting on behalf of the paper for which I am a correspondent, to be at a meeting that the board wanted to be an executive session. He returned my call this morning and told me that the board had directed him to make it a closed-door meeting for “strategic planning purposes for the next five years.”
I told him the position of the paper, and the law, according to media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, was that that was not a legitimate reason for a closed-door meeting. Under Pennsylvania law, only certain reasons are allowed for a closed-door meeting by a public entity, among them, personnel, litigation, real estate and negotiations, none of which applied here.
After arguing him with for about 10 minutes, he finally said, “You’ve made your position clear.”
And with that, I hung up.
A few minutes later, I called him back to apologize if I had come across “snappy,” but he had called me before most businesses even are in operation. I then asked him for an official quote, which he said, in light of the previous conversation, he would be making none and talking to their attorney…
…which all leads to a telephone conversation with the authority board’s solicitor later this morning.
“What the hell do you want to go to that goddamned boring meeting that’s going to last six hours anyway?”
That was how she began. I am paraphrasing because I didn’t expect that kind of a response and was a little shell-shocked, mostly with laughter, by that introduction.
The meeting, it should be noted, is scheduled next Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at a local country club. I told her I didn’t want to go to that meeting per se, but my editors wanted me to go since it was supposed to be a public meeting.
The lawyer later said what irked her was that she had to be at the meeting and that was the day, the new Harry Potter movie opened.
After talking about the situation a little bit, she said to me something to the effect:
“So let’s get to the important stuff…”
Finally my ears pricked up (is it just me or that an odd turn of phrase? “pricked up” – eh, maybe it’s just me, anyway) because I thought here is where we get to the crux of the matter.
“Does the Arcadia [our local theater] have a midnight matinee?”
Sometimes things just have to be put in perspective, don’t they?