I'm still trying to wrap my arms and ears around what I heard at the Sunnyside City Council meeting this past Monday night.
In defending a proposed $51,000 in retroactive pay for 20 city employees, Councilman Bill Gant let fly the following tidbit:
"Quite frankly I'm getting a little tired of hearing about the citizens. A lot of times citizens choose crappy lifestyles which lead to crappy lives and that's the choice they make."
He then went on to talk about the "highly trained professionals" at city hall and their need for a pay raise.
A divided and badgered council finally gave into their hired employees and forked over $37,000 in retroactive pay for 2008, a sum that could almost have kept on one of our police officers that were cut.
All this transpired barely 45 minutes after the city in a formal ceremony and reception honored its best and brightest with the "Spirit of Sunnyside" awards. They included long time public servants, a WWII POW and a new generation of service.
Fortunately the honorees all left right after the ceremony and were spared Gant's tirade against Sunnyside's "crappy" citizens.
As an audience member I was offended and shocked to hear Gant's words.
Then I thought, he's right.
What was I thinking, spending five years on the mission field in Budapest, Hungary?
That was a "crappy" lifestyle choice that surely cost me years I could have spent climbing a corporate ladder somewhere.
What was I thinking, turning down a huge out of town job offer earlier this summer because Joni and I are committed to the ministry and church family God has plugged us into here in the Lower Valley.
That, too, was a "crappy" decision. Why, right now I could be hauling in that big paycheck. In fact it was so big it would have even been a little more than what a new secretary makes working for Sunnyside.
Yes, I'm still bothered by what Gant said. I don't consider my lifestyle, my choices or my life "crappy". I just happen to live in Sunnyside, which Gant could just as well have dubbed "crappy" town. It kind of has a catch to it, reminds me of that 80s dance tune, "Oh won't you take me to...crappy town."
Yet, no matter how much it raised my ire, I have to forgive Gant and his comment. God tells me I have to.
So, I'm thinking maybe Bill just had a bad day on Monday, or maybe something happened over the weekend that set him off.
Whatever it was, I'm hoping he'll re-think those words likely blurted out in haste and frustration.
I really hope for his sake and ours he will apologize to the citizens of Sunnyside, show some of that spirit of Sunnyside honored Monday night. It would be a refreshing contrast to the $pirit of $unnyside that seems to have taken hold of some city employees.
Otherwise, Bill will surely be challenged next year when his seat comes up for election.
To use his word, if he doesn't come clean with the citizens, the "crap" will hit the fan.