April 12, 2012

Mayor to Cockayne: "Shut the f*** up"

Anyone who sits through government meetings has wanted, at one time or another, to tell someone to shut the f*** up.
And God knows that many have privately indicated they wish city Councilor Ken Cockayne in particular would zip it.
But Mayor Art Ward made the mistake of letting the understandable thought slip out of his mouth during this week's City Council meeting. Here's the story, in case you missed it.
Plus, there's the must-see video:

You can get a sense of how how much of a circus the meeting had become.
Now newspaper people are famously crass -- the word f*** rolls off some editors' tongues as often as twice per sentence -- so the mayor's words barely registered with me. Until I got a copy of the tape, I really wasn't sure what Ward had said.
But we all recognize the mayor shouldn't curse in a televised, public meeting. That he's never done it before is all the proof anyone needs that he knows better -- and is better, since he's been there a long, long time as a councilor and the city's top elected official.
The Urban Dictionary helps clarify the "shut the f*** up" comment. It says that people use the phrase "when someone is talking, there is too much noise or when someone is talking shit. It is the upgrade of 'shut up' and is used mainly when you are angry and annoyed to the extent the you could lose it at any moment."
I don't really think Ward was about to lose it -- why would he? he had as much support in that union-filled chamber as he's ever had in his life -- but he was probably pretty angry that Cockayne was leaping in to try to tell him how to do his job.
At its root, what's happening between the GOP-dominated council and Ward is a power struggle.
The mayor runs the city, by charter and tradition, but this council is determined to try to force him to follow its dictates, something he's unwilling to do except grudgingly and slow.
What that moment of frustration when the mayor cursed at Cockayne really shows is how deep the divide between them has become in the last few months.
In a war, after all, you don't usually sweet talk the enemy.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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