Matthew Leslie

District elections Map # 8A splits the entire downtown residential district into five separate pieces, an idea so obviously stupid that the bar owner map’s supporters had to line up a veritable parade of stooges to speak in its favor during last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Many of these speakers had something to gain from the scheme, as we’ll see in later parts of this story. Others, well, one has to question both the judgment and humanity of whoever put Don Bankhead up this task.

Mr. Bankhead made a rare appearance in the chambers he occupied as a councilman and mayor for so many decades, “over thirty years,” he claimed that night, even though he served for only 24 years.

We begin this clip with Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, who couldn’t keep the exasperation from her face as Mr. Bankhead approached the podium and then began his comments with an audible grunt. Next, Jan Flory and Don Bankhead shared a chuckle about who was going to kill him first, Ms. Flory or his wife, if he ran for office again. My money is on Jan Flory.

Mr. Bankhead unintentionally made a terrible argument against district elections by opining that things ran pretty well the old way, without districts, presumably when he was on the council. He followed it with a pretty good argument for the proposed new system by noting that “the only benefit” candidates would receive would be that they would only have to walk their respective districts during election season, and not the entire city, as he recalled having done when he ran for office. Somehow, I don’t imagine Don Bankhead knocking on doors in every part of the city. I never saw him at my door.

Throughout his comments he repeatedly confused the names of maps 2B, the map supported by Kitty Jaramillo and others, and 8A, which he was obviously supposed to support. The twice-recalled former councilman voiced his support for map “2A,” though there was no such map before the council that night. Even when queried by Jan Flory and then corrected by Jennifer Fitzgerald, Mr. Bankhead tragicomically stuck to his guns, insisting that “2A” was “the one that we’re here to talk about.” In other words, it was just like old times, when he was serving on the council, but without the highlighted script for him this time.