Citizen Wausau

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The Joe McGrath Triangle of Impossibility

by on May 9th, 2011

The 400 Block project is essentially done. The funds have been raised, the plans approved, the city committed and events for this summer planned. But, it is clearly not done for Joe McGrath. Well, clearly is not the right word in any sentence with Joe. Ever.

So, for the longest time Joe has been showing up at City Council meetings, getting up and speaking, and going on about one or two different things; the name of the block, and a flagpole. He is focused on these two things. Each of his sessions averages at least 10 minutes, some go on much longer. And each of them pointless. Yet, as sure as Aaron Rodgers is the greatest living football player, I can be sure Joe McGrath is going to be at the next meeting, and he will be allowed to speak, and the end will never come.

So, what does Joe want? Two things are tops on his agenda. One, he wants the space called Freedom Square. I know this because he circulated a petition to this effect. And he made a vinyl sign. So, he wants the name to be Freedom Square. Which it will not be. Two, he wants the flagpole to be in a prominent position. His definition of prominence is right in the center of the square.  The city has placed the flagpole in the design, but clearly that is not enough for Joe.  One wonders how many parks in Wausau have an American flag prominently displayed, and if they are displayed prominently for Joe McGrath.

Just as I don’t mind guns, I do not mind patriotism. I like flagpoles and the word freedom and I like them together. But, at some point this needs to stop. The city council should not be forced to sit and listen to a person at each meeting go on and on about what is effectively nothing. The name is done and the flagpole is done. So, Joe, move on.

I know that if I were to appear at each meeting and talk for 10 minutes or more about the need for a city program that supports vegan skateboarding events at the parking ramp across from the library, they would stop me from talking. But, no one wants to be the one to tell an old man that he needs to move on. I say that someone needs to pull him and his caregiver aside and ask them to stop coming.

Seriously, what would happen if I were to keep going on and on? Wouldn’t a police officer eventually politely ask me to stop? Then maybe not so politely? What is the protocol for this?  Do they just stop calling on Joe?  And what does that lead to the people who want any reason to scream about who knows what?!?

I first became aware of Joe at a meeting a while ago. He told the city council he was upset with the mayor’s handling of the flag and as a flag trustee he had taken the flag down and taken it home. He was holding the flag hostage. I think I actually did fall out of my chair and nearly lost control when I realized what he said. He had a key and had taken the flag down, and taken it home. Amazing. I immediately went outside and, sure enough, the flag was gone.

Now, there is something about Joe having some say in the flagpole.  After all he went out and got donation for said pole.   But, the idea that he is demanding a return of the flagpole if he does not get the postioning he wants, well that is patently absurd.  At what point does this Joe thing end?  And how will it end?

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