Is it possible that W.S. Gilbert really never met the yeo-women of the French Quarter bourgeoisie-terrienne?
“I hold that there is no such antick fellow as your bombastical hero who doth so earnestly spout forth his folly as to make his hearers believe that he is unconscious of all incongruity” – said Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s farce was first performed in London in 1874, so unlikely that board members of even so venerable a body as the Vieux Carré Church of Residential Property went to pose for it.
There were open slots for public questions in today’s FQMD Commissioners’ Meeting.
Ms Susan Guillot, a dour stalwart of the French Quarter Citizen psychopathy indicated with a determined scowl that she had very stern questions about the the Bylaws, which seemed to center on the fact, the very stark and glaring fact, that she had not been sent a copy of said bylaws and the meeting minutes of its adoption.
Pause button, please: in 2014, the Residents, as a compact troupe of Restoration Comedians like to style themselves, decided that the French Quarter Management District should have bylaws. I speculate that they were acting on advice of their baleful legal Sphinx, a certain Mr Smith, a bylaw engineer with a twitchy nose for a loophole. They took their bee and its bonnet to Senator Edwin Murray, who immediately called the then Chairman with excited words. “Get these women out of my office! Pass a damn’ bylaw or something. Whatever!”
Why should Ms Guillot have been sent these documents? Who exactly is Ms Guillot, that acts of the Commissioners lack validity unless she gets prompt sight of the printout? Who indeed! Mme Guillot is a Deputy Panjandrum of French Quarter Citizens, a veritable Dame of North Rampart. Has she been anointed to ratify the Commission’s decisions? Well, let us be forgiving. We all knew a girl like that in the third grade. Charles Schulz called her Lucy in Peanuts. Think Margaret Dumont in a less statuesque package.
Back to our tale. Lori Herbert, Secretary of the Commission, replied in an pleasant tone, “Copies were distributed at the end of the January meeting and will be on our web site this week. I have a copy left from January; would you like it now?” With a sweet smile, she passed it over. Mme. Guillot’s expression darkened further into a visual ladylike “harumph” as she settled back into the posture which I think was supposed to represent thinking.
Ms. Pat Meadowcroft, President of VCPORA itself, herself, seated next to Mme. Guillot, then took the reins. “We are still not satisfied with the bylaws,” she said – in a very dignified way, for after all, she is the President – “because they just restate the enabling legislation. And we . . . ” Is this the “we” of VCPORA, the “we” of the Diune Binity of VCPORA/FQC, or the “We” of downtown Royalty of the Respectable (as opposed to, for instance, the Queen of Krewe du Vieux)? One does not quite know, does one? Anyway, lest I too far digress, ” . . . are not satisfied with the arrangements for committees.”
Commission Chairman (the ugly PC term “chair” sticks in my unregenerate craw) Steve Pettus informed the Lady Meadowcroft that the bylaws had in fact added duties and responsibilities of officers, and term limits, and committee structure was still under review. Ah, but it transpires that “we” are also not satisfied with the term limits.
Now, not being a Commissioner, the exceedingly high raising of my eyebrow by this point caused no stir around the Great Table. What, I was thinking, does “we” have to do with the price of bloody plums? Ms Meadowcroft is not a Commissioner nor an officer nor in fact any damn’ thing on FQMD. She is current President of a nominating organization. Her club, which advocates special privilege and authority for residential property owners, the very qualification that was progressively rejected as the United States emerged from the Colonies, gets to appoint a Commissioner. Their appointed Commissioner, Tony Marino, was not present – a common condition. I know the Commission’s bylaws – which are quite unnecessary and not vibrant enough to merit memorizing – well enough to know that there is not one that says in the absence of Marino, Meadowcroft gets the Corleone role at the table. “We are not satisfied,” in the querulous tone of Margaret Dumont as Mrs Teasdale addressing Rufus T. Firefly – as unconscious of all incongruity as Groucho and Gilbert could portray it. The Commissioners were behaving with great restraint and courtesy in not lobbing a few bread rolls in her direction. Ms Meadowcroft is a former retail executive. I used to make my living in that environment. I would have expected a less tone-deaf meeting performance. Perhaps Hoodism is a degenerative ailment.
Mr Darryl Berger, a very diplomatic and courteous Commissioner, stepped softly into the discussion. “The Commission passed the bylaws which seemed correct and suitable to the Commission,” he said, “and having passed them, the Commission has met its obligation, and those bylaws are now the duly constituted bylaws of the District.” Commissioner Berger spoke very softly. Ms Meadowcroft seemed to wake from a light dream. Still, I don’t think she really got it. As tough as they can be tactically, “getting it” is not a VCPORAn aptitude. I suspect they renew their faith in their Holy Mission by touching the sacred wood of their own conference table while reconfirming their importance in their own eyes under a portrait of Sphinxy, and start again.
Another VCPORA lady whose name I didn’t catch entered the lists with a series of questions meant to expose procedural flaws in FQMD’s management. Who did the Commission report to? Was its work vetted by the Ethics Committee? Commissioner Kim Rosenberg, an attorney who once strode the halls of state government, is expert in compliance and legal status. FQMD’s responsibility was to turn in its accounts and report annually to the Audit department, replied Commissioner Rosenberg; to reply to Ethics if it asked questions, which it normally did not; that the Commissioners had passed the State’s course in ethics and compliance and understood their responsibilities and obligations. The questioner wanted to know whether the District reported to the executive department. Ms Rosenberg replied that FQMD was free-standing, neither part of the executive nor the legislative department, The questioner seemed unsatisfied and grouchily picked at this a bit more, but didn’t leave a scratch on the finish. She was in Kim Rosenberg’s back yard; a plucky try, but she didn’t stand a chance.
A plucky try at what? At undermining FQMD. It is not clear why. but the VC Jihad doesn’t like it. The Unholy Binity has two seats on the board, one for VCPORA and one for FQC, when they really should have only one, because all evidence and the best available espionage tell us that either VCPORA pulls FQC’s strings, or their puppet-master works both dolls of his Punch and Judy Show. The hoodie tendency for some reason wants FQMD off the stage and out of the way. I guess they see it as a rival, or perhaps one of the FQ’s protections against Hoodie intimidation and control by Suicide Suing. No doubt they have persuaded themselves that their Holy Mission justifies even Freedonian subversion tactics, which may lead to laughter.
Well, I had to leave the Army of Occupation to its undermining and overreaching to prepare for a date with the latest love of my life, Miss Nola Contendere, a seductively preserved lady of the historic Creole civilization that preceded the Poran Invasions. Teetering right on the edge of a punch line that finally eluded me, I beetled off, but did manage to secure some video footage of the Management District conducting urgent business on our very best behalf.