Archive for Thursday, June 1, 2000

Silence is not always golden

June 1, 2000

It's not often we get to see something we shouldn't.

Not often enough, I should say.

Let's face it, we're a voyeuristic society. Ever notice that the minute you clear an accident, the traffic jam is over? The reason is simple: traffic doesn't pick up until each driver has had his or her turn to check out the wreckage.

It's true.

Three weeks ago when Tonganoxie was hit by a tornado, police officers had to close off the streets to the entrance of town because there were too many gawkers coming into town to assess the damage for themselves.

We are a curious species and if seeing is believing, well, you begin to understand why we have this need-to-see way of life.

So, imagine how our ears perk up when a member of the city council wants to tell us what goes on in executive session.

Oooohhh, executive session.

That's a secret place, a mysterious place. A complete unknown to the average Joe. Rumor has it you have to take a blood oath AND a pinky swear to be invited to attend executive session.

Once there, I've been told that those inside are forced to promise that they'll stick a needle (the sharp object varies upon the city, of course) in their eye if they blab to the outside world about what a neat place it is.

It's almost like the underworld.

It's a politician's version of Omerta, the Mafia's code of silence.

I'm not sure if Tom Pyle will be required to stick a needle (possibly a hunk of beef jerky) in his eye for telling me what happened in executive session a few weeks back, but, heck, I'm sure glad he told me.

Pyle told the story of the council and mayor allegedly conspiring to get rid of city superintendent Bill Harlow during executive session. According to Pyle, it was agreed upon by everyone except himself to eliminate the position. Then Pyle claims he was pressured heck, let's not mince words, strong-armed into voting to oust Harlow with the threat of firing the police chief as well.

That's pretty hot stuff.

And I thought they just played cards back there or watched the Jayhawks on their big-screen from the comfort of their plush captain's chairs while sipping on adult beverages.

Little did I realize there was some high-pressure business taking place.

And Pyle telling me about it definitely struck a nerve. There was outrage from his colleagues that reminded me of the time Sammy the Bull ratted out the Teflon Don and caused an uproar in the Gambino crime family, which hasn't been the same since.

So what will happen to Pyle?

Likely nothing, which is probably the way it should be in this case.

His colleagues might have a few strong words for him the next time the council meets. They might even go on record with a public censure against Pyle, but that's nothing he can't handle.

Pyle did what he thought was right.

If things went down as he said, God bless him for coming forward. Now that someone has broken the code of silence, you'd better believe council members will now hold each other accountable for their actions in executive session.

At least we hope if there was some unsavory action going on, they'll be a little smarter the next time.

Heck, maybe they'll think twice about going into executive session.

Pyle proved to Eudora and its city council last week that hiding behind to cloak of secrecy known as executive session doesn't ensure that the alleged deplorable acts of some won't find their way into the public's eye.

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