Troy Holds First City Council Meeting Of Post-Janice Daniels Era

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Troy held it's first City Council meeting following Janice Daniel's recall Monday night and it was as beautifully boring as municipal government could get.

Daniels, the controversial now-former Troy mayor was removed from office by voters last week.

Monday's meeting began with an invocation from a local pastor, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, honorary proclamations awarded to a recycling group and the pastors of a Lutheran congregation on the occasion of the church's 50th anniversary. A brief first round of public comment followed and one resident suggested Troy could use—paging Leslie Knope—a dog park.

Then Councilman Dane Slater was unanimously selected to replace Councilwoman Maureen McGinnis as the city's Mayor Pro Tem—a one-year appointment that rotates between Councilmembers. Since Daniels was removed as Mayor and therefore as head of Council, the decision means Slater is now Troy's acting mayor.

When his name was called as "Mayor Slater" during a roll call vote, he joked: "I've got to get used to that."

Perhaps most fittingly, Council unanimously approved contracts related to the federally funded Troy Transit Center—a project that earned Daniels national coverage for her opposition.

The Transit Center was initially defeated last winter before a less expensive version of the plan was ultimately approved. Councilwoman McGinnis noted that approval of the city's contract with MDOT allows the roughly $2M budgeted but no longer required for the more modest center to be returned to Washington and routed to a different transportation project.

To whatever currently unknown community benefits from this faux-frugality, on behalf of Troy, you’re welcome.

Other items on Monday's agenda included approval of Council meeting dates in 2013, a closed session to discuss a lawsuit settlement with a billboard company, a discussion about selecting a permanent mayor, and concerns about grass cutting on median strips. There was also general public comment session where, for one final moment, Daniels was again the topic of conversation.

The majority of speakers expressed their relief and appreciation for the successful completion of the recall.

“Congratulations to the citizens of Troy for doing the right thing and getting us back on track,” Troy resident Cynthia Wilshire told Council. “Tonight when I came in [to the Council chamber], and I mentioned it to other people, I have never seen so many smiling faces. Everyone seemed to be happy, which hasn’t happened in a long time.”

But Daniels was not without some defenders Monday night. They were earnest, polite, well-spoken, but they relied on some seriously tortured logic to defend Daniels. One woman said the Constitutional recall process "disenfranchised" Daniels' voters—clearly demonstrating her ignorance of disenfranchised's definition. She also warned that Daniels’ recall opens the door for "the dark horses of the thought police" to come after almost anyone. Dark horses, you say? Sounds terrifying.

Another woman claimed Daniels was denied the “learning curve” she needed to properly settle into her mayoral role—as though an adult in the public arena is entitled time to learn Troy's City Charter isn't a "whimsical document" or that medical consensus does not believe the "homosexual lifestyle" is as dangerous as smoking.

Can you imagine Margret Thatcher’s supporters demanding a special accommodation so the iconic Prime Minister to learn her role? It would be absurd. Then again, Janice Daniels isn’t fit to carry the Iron Lady’s purse.

Daniels and her supporters wanted to make Troy a culture wars battleground. But they also wanted the quiet, comfortable existence that Douglas Coupland called “the life of children of the children of pioneers.”

That have-it-both-way attitude proved to be their undoing. When the inevitable pushback came, when they were told Daniels couldn’t tell lies to high school students and pretend it’s science, that Daniels couldn’t use Troy as a venue to rage against the political managerial class, she and her supporters behaved like the wounded grandchildren of pioneers. They were raised to too much comfort to react appropriately to the adversarial nature of big-time politics.

Normal political criticisms were treated as devastatingly unfair personal attacks. Legal democratic processes were confused with assaults on their liberties. Expectations of professional behavior were perceived as unfair criticism of a political neophyte.

Politics, particularly the politics of the culture wars, ain’t beanbag. Thomas Jefferson paid a pamphleteer to write that John Adams, once his friend and ally in revolution, had a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Given such a precedent, it’s hard to feel sorry for Janice Daniels because a Patch commenter called her a witch.

These people wanted to be politically bold and transformative without muss and fuss history tells us comes with bold and transformative politics.

What Daniels’ opponents understood and what Daniels and her supporters so completely failed to grasp is that Troy could become a hotbed of ideological politics or it can remain be a charmed and prosperous American middle-class suburb where (again quoting Coupland) politics, the hardball kind, “existed in elsewhere in a televised non-paradise.”  

The majority or Troy voters chose the charmed prosperity—a return to normalcy—over Daniels’ petit bourgeoisie Jacobinism.

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