You aught to attend city council meetings and I might dare suggest, regularly.
I know watching on cable is terribly convenient and for many Newburyporters with health and time issues; it is the only way to see what is going on at the city council meetings.
But if you want to know, really know, what is going on – you need to be physically present.
On a typical council meeting, there is so much going on out in the hallway, and around the council floor long before the cameras roll.
Then there are ‘players’ – significant persons who are normally always at one of these meetings and then there are those who only come for a particular reason. It is these unusual characters that cause me to raise my eyebrows and wonder to myself, “Now why would he (or she) be here?”
Over in one corner is Dyke Hendrickson, the resident news sponge, and next to him Tom Salemi, blogger extraordinaire– this particularly makes me happy for their presence. There is nothing worse than to have a news reporter not show up or get up halfway through a meeting and leave. Then you read the next day an article that has nothing to do with what actually happened but is based on hearsay evidence!
And then there is the mood – cameras are set in such a way that it is impossible to catch the feeling in the crowd. Is there excitement? Is there anger? Is the tension so thick that it is hard to look around for fear of being glared at, or is the atmosphere upbeat? Watch how city councilors interact, watch how the people on the perimeters act. Is thee stomping going on? Or scowling? Are there sincere smiles and bright faces?
It is all these nuances that after a couple of meetings, can really help in finding out what is going on for real in City Hall.
One of the great things about watching Newburyport politics, it is an exciting and rather exhilarating sport and I think far healthier than national politics right now!