What really happened in the Council Meeting yesterday? Who’s right, the Mayor or the Conservatives? I’ll try to explain.
The Mayor and his Liberals are in trouble. Their ratings are low and their coalition has been weak from the start, with coalition partners often not supporting the Liberals.
This means that getting stuff done is hard. Also, the opposition fight hard and dirty, so a lot of issues get blown out of proportion and turned into political footballs.
Also, the Liberals make a lot of mistakes, and their communication is terrible, so even when they don’t make a mistake, it still looks like a mistake. Or they tell a little lie. When they don’t need to. And then they lie to cover it up.
So the Mayor and his Liberals are desperately looking for ways to generate good headlines to increase their popularity.
We are now seeing a lot of new asphalt, parks being tidied up, cycle lanes painted, and men in suits on building sites trying to look like they are constructing the bright future with their own hands.
They are also doing some very good things, which I totally agree with. I am a liberal guy, so when the Liberal party do something liberal, I support them.
But even if I normally vote with the Liberals, I am technically in the opposition, because they threw me out of their faction because I swore on Facebook. Oh well. Now I am independent, I am free to vote however I want. You will see how important that is later in the story.
The other parties in the opposition are the previous Mayor’s party and the Polish party. Nobody likes the Polish party because all they do is disrupt Council meetings and encourage schools to protest against reforms. They try to “win” against the Mayor, so they can go and tell their voters “look, the evil Mayor tried to destroy your school, but we saved it!!”. And if they lose the fight, they don’t care, because they can go and tell their voters “look, the evil Mayor destroyed your school, probably because he hates the Polish!”.
It’s disgusting when they use kids’ education as the battleground for their ratings wars.
So, me and the Liberals normally vote together on school reforms, because I can see that sometimes you simply have to reorganise a school even if it hurts, compromises have to be found, sometimes people need to be fired or retire, I know that good people work on these issues hard and take them seriously, and I know nobody is deliberately trying to wipe out the Polish population. Obviously.
So, me and the Liberals normally vote together, and we get very annoyed at the destruction done by the opposition. We don’t like it when the Polish play with kids’ lives.
So what happened yesterday?
Now this is a story all about how
The Council got flipped, turned upside-down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called… Vilnius.
So here’s the thing.
The Polish, for the millionth time, found a couple of schools somewhere and came up with a proposal to reform them, claiming ethnic discrimination if their demands are not met. As usual.
But this time, THE LIBERALS MADE A DEAL WITH THE POLISH AND SUPPORTED THE PROPOSAL.
Let me say that again, because it’s just freaking insane.
The Liberals, who have constantly been fighting against nonsense from the Polish, suddenly decided to support a nonsense Polish proposal.
Why? Because they want to kick the Conservatives out of the coalition and accept the Polish in. So they need to give the Polish something, to buy their support.
Let me say that again, because it’s just freaking insane.
The Liberals are trying to make a coalition with the Polish by buying their support.
Yes, I know politics is dirty and dumb, and this is the dumbest, dirtiest thing I have seen so far.
The Conservatives, of course, opposed this nonsense. The Conservative Vice Mayor is responsible for education, but the Mayor just totally bypassed him and went to make a deal with the Polish, the opposition, to make an exception in the reform plan, not to make childrens’ education better, but to try to make the Mayor’s ratings higher.
So the Mayor and the Liberals joined exactly the same dirty game the Polish have been playing all this time.
…and Councillor Mark Adam Harold had the deciding vote.
More precisely, half the Councillors agreed to boycott the vote and walk out to prevent this nonsense thing happening. That means that if Markas walks out too – there’s less than half of the Councillors in the room. And if there’s less than half the Councillors in the room – the meeting has to end and no more votes can happen.
The Polish have been doing this all the time, to block the school reforms. They normally go home early, deliberately. Many many times, the Council meeting had to be abandoned because the Polish walked out.
Well, after more than two years of nobody really wanting to talk to me or help me with my initiatives, suddenly everyone wants to be my friend, right? Because if I walk out, all the Mayor’s plans to do a favour for the Polish are screwed up. If I don’t walk out, the Conservative plans to block the proposal are screwed up. I start getting phonecalls and messages.
The Conservatives contacted me and asked me to join the boycott. They convinced me that this was simply political theatre, not an urgent school reform. I promised to vote against it, but not to walk out.
Then the Polish party Councillor who is the leader of all school reform battles starts flirting with me, literally flashing her eyes and begging me to support them, because “it’s a really good idea”. Pfff, no thanks, I don’t believe your nonsense, and by the way – you are the people who tried to get me thrown out of the Council illegally, so how about F U.
The Social Democrats already declared they weren’t going to support the Polish, so they just sat there smiling, happy to watch the Liberals burn.
Then something magical happened. A filibuster. In Lithuania. My heart sings!
A filibuster is when in American politics you have unlimited time for your speech, so basically if you just speak all day then nobody else can speak and you block the proposal. This is not possible in our City Council, because we have time limits for our speeches. But… we also have the right to question the procedure of the meeting at any time, if we think that maybe the rules of the meetings have been broken.
Sometimes Lithuanians use this to waste time. The champion of timewasting is a guy called Šilgalis, who constantly finds petty reasons to get up and complain about something. He did this so much that they actually installed two extra microphones which are always on, to save time.
In one meeting he did this so much that I asked the Secretariat to calculate how much time was wasted. In one 7 hour meeting, they counted every minute, and found out that he was speaking for more than an hour in total. He is 2% of the people in the Council, but talked for 15% of the time. And I can assure you that most of his speeches were not useful, it was just timewasting and trying to embarass the Mayor.
Well, that’s legit, according to the rules.
But this time it was different. The Conservatives could see that the only way to block the Polish proposal was to filibuster and hope that more than half of the Councillors went home before the relevant question.
The relevant question was number 35. It took us about two hours to get to question number 8. Many times people suggested having a break, and many times the Council voted not to have a break, because the majority wanted to get to question number 35 as fast as possible.
Three Conservatives took turns to ask questions about procedural rules at every opportunity. They also started trying to persuade me to walk out, begging me, bullying me, flattering me, they tried everything. I said I really don’t like the idea of just walking out, it seems rude to the people who voted for me, because people voted for me to work, not to walk out.
But sometimes walking out is work.
And when we are talking about the Liberals supporting a stupid Polish proposal, walking out seems legit. The Polish have walked out so much, how can they complain if I walk out?
I am sitting there, with the ability to stop the whole meeting and the whole Liberal/Polish wedding ceremony at any time, simply by walking out. And it’s starting to look like an interesting idea, because seriously, why should I sit there and support the party who threw me out of their fraction for one swearword, and the party who constantly disrupt the Council? Why should I let them swap favours and play with kids’ lives, just because their ratings are low?
So I started helping the Conservative filibuster. For example, they kept asking for votes to be recounted. And that means we must have a vote to see if the votes should be recounted. And I voted yes, to waste time. And my votes are shown on the big screen.
And that’s when the Liberals noticed I was not going to support them.
Maybe they assumed I would never support the Conservatives, because I famously hate half of that hypocritical homophobic schizophrenic party. But the other half is kinda OK, and I am an independent, so each question is separate for me, and if I agree with the Conservatives on one question, why not support them?
Now the Liberals start talking to me. I mean wow, they didn’t talk to me at all before the Council Meeting, they never talk to me. Everyone else talked to me to try to persuade me to give my support. The Liberals didn’t talk to me until it was too late. And then they didn’t really have any persuasive arguments, because there aren’t any. It’s all just bull***t and they know it.
They tried doing me dumb favours to try to show they love me. For example, there is a very dangerous hole in the pavement which I have been warning them about for months, because I know two people who have fallen in the hole and broken their spines. BROKEN THEIR SPINES. And still, nobody has made the hole safe. But now suddenly when they need my vote – the Liberal responsible for pavements starts telling me how he’s going to fix the hole, as if I will suddenly say “wow that’s great, I’ll vote for your dumb deal with the Polish!”
By now, we have been working more than five hours without a break, and many of us really need the toilet. Imagine how funny this is, a room full of people who need to piss, but can’t leave. And there’s me, sitting there, knowing that if I simply leave, the Conservatives will win and the meeting will be over.
I held on for as long as possible, to make sure plenty of important decisions were made. The price of drinking water was decreased, funding was allocated for renovating communal spaces, etc. etc.
But then I couldn’t wait any more, so I had to go to the toilet. Let it be written in the history books of Vilnius, that on 26th July 2017, Mark went to the toilet. For a very long time.
While I was gone, there was a vote, it failed, because not enough people voted, and then the Liberals desperately tried to say that the voting computer was broken, but it wasn’t.
The Meeting ended, the Liberal/Polish deal didn’t happen (yet), the coalition is completely screwed up, and the Mayor is blaming his coalition partners, the Conservatives, for the chaos caused when the Liberals abandoned the coalition and flirted with the Polish. The Mayor is on Facebook talking about throwing the Conservatives out, but if he does that then the other parties will abandon him too, because nobody wants to help the Polish. Or the Mayor.
And that’s what really happened yesterday in the City Council.
The Conservatives stopped the Liberals playing games with a school. The Conservatives blocked an opposition proposal, not the Mayor’s proposal. The Conservatives blocked a Polish proposal that was a total waste of time. And I helped them.
Now you know.