An anonymous wag once said, "when someone loses a sense another one becomes stronger to compensate, that is why those with no sense of humor have an overdeveloped sense of self importance." A sense of humor is essential to making it through life without taking yourself too seriously. It is also good for the soul. As a not-so-anonymous scribe once said, "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
If you attend Wildwood City Council meetings you know there is a lot of dry, serious and often angry stuff. Some council members even seem to relish interrogating residents seeking to volunteer as city commissioners, such as on the ethics board. It's painful to witness. If you missed the last council meeting you can watch Councilmember Shea dressing down two fine nominees, one who is exceedingly experienced in evidence review as he is a former trial attorney from Chicago. Ms. Shea, with no formal legal experience, lectured this professional about everything from rules of evidence to how she believes the nominees abdicated their responsibility when they failed to find merit in an ethics complaint filed by a political ally of hers (the dressing down starts at 1:41:37 in the link). Admittedly, she must be frustrated after having nearly $30,000 of city money spent on unsubstantiated claims made by herself and allies that failed to go anywhere, but this is no excuse for attacking volunteers, especially those highly qualified professionals who are willing to donate their time to better our community.
Many on the council are tired of the needless acrimony. We are committed to doing the serious work of the city, but would like to respect one another and even be allowed a little levity.
I have this attitude. It appears to be a subversive one by the measures of Shea and her allies.
Even when you think it can't get any more dreary, it can. On January 16th, shortly after I helped defeat legislation favored by a certain aggressive political tribe within Wildwood politics, I received an email by Kelley Woerther, wife of Councilman Tim Woerther. Kelley, who penned some of the failed ethics complaints, has strong ties to those who favored the bill. Kelley was, among other things, offended by my tendency to occasionally attempt a joke. She even suggested that my fellow council members might find my proclivity toward merriment worthy of "censure". In a follow up email that went to various council members the author of the missive stated that, "I found the humor that has (sic) constant from Council member (sic) Taylor while on the dais to be an insult to all who take your elected positions seriously."
Even if you agree with the idea that levity is never, ever appropriate in public settings, it is truly disturbing that Ms. Woerther believes such innocent attempts at humor deserve "censure". Such inclination to use official city sanctions for things that rub pearl-clutching political operatives the wrong way, may help explain the nearly $30,000 worth of failed ethics filings that have been made against the Mayor and other perceived enemies.
If it wasn't so tragic it might be funny that Wildwood politics has taken us to the point that there is now a campaign against humor. But as comedian Lenny Bruce once said, "comedy is tragedy plus time." Maybe in time we will look back and have a laugh.