It’s 1982. My father, mother and I are at a Lebanon City Council meeting. The meeting is packed with people. The press is there. Lot’s of hot topics to discuss. We are all on our feet for the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, after the pledge, we all sit down to make ourselves comfortable for the long evening – at least that is what we thought.
Counselor Bromley starts out the meeting by saying to the Lebanon City Manager, John Wheeler – “John, how much money would it take for you to step down as City Manager?” John Wheeler reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. It is apparent that John, unlike most anyone else in the packed audience is ready for the question. “I need $11,250.53. That includes vacation time and personal time.” Counselor Bromley then says: “I make a motion to dismiss the City Manager and that we pay him $11,250.53. But he has to leave tomorrow.”
It was at this time that my mother noticed that my father was missing. She locates him by the window that overlooks the park and says: “Oh, oh. Your father has his hand up.” I look to my right. Sure enough – my father has his left index finger up in the air. I’m now looking at the Mayor who is looking at my father. The Mayor then foolishly recognizes my father and says: “Harry – would you like to say something?” “Yes, I would,” says my father as he walks toward a railing where speakers speak. The packed crowd is silent and the room is very quite. Despite the quiet, I think: “The Mayor is out of his mind. Before this is over, he will regret ever giving my father the floor.” “I think the City Manager is a hell of a nice guy,” my father begins. “But, I don’t like the City Manager so much that I want you to give him $11,250.53 of my money and not have him work for it. So let me tell you something. If you vote to dismiss the City Manager and give him all that money as he exits, I’ll have an injunction on that vote by 9 a.m tomorrow morning!” My father’s tone is loud and his demeanor is, in a word, resolute.
As my father turns to come back to his seat, the crowd is on its feet – voicing its approval for what my father just did and what he just said. The audience is giving him a standing ovation. “Give em hell, Harry,” says one member of the audience. My father walks to where I’m sitting. He squeezes in beside me. He has a boyish grin on his face. He then says to me: “Well, can we get the injunction?” I look at him and say: “How the hell do I know, big mouth” and we laugh. No need for the injunction.
The City Council decides to let John Wheeler work for his money. The Council gives the City Manager a six month notice that he is all done in six months. John Wheeler works for those months; and nothing else is ever said about giving someone money just to leave. There is no need to go to court. There is no need to seek the injunction that my father threatened to get – without ever knowing if he could get it