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Monday, January 4, 2010
The Peaceful Transfer of Power, American (Fork) Style

The time it took me to write this brief post -- not very much -- is approximately equal to the length of the meeting it recounts. Sometimes important things happen quickly, even in government.

We take the peaceful transfer of political power for granted in the United States, and the luxury of doing so is a great blessing. May it ever be thus.

Here's how it went in American Fork today. (Fair warning: I may not have the order of events precisely correct, but the variations, if any, are insignificant in this case.) In the space of about 15 minutes, in a hall that was standing room only (which was nice to see) . . .

The meeting was called to order by outgoing Mayor Heber Thompson. We pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States, and there was a prayer.

City Recorder Dick Colborn administered the oath of office to mayor-elect James Hadfield and then to the two reelected city councilors, Dale Gunther and Heidi Rodeback (MFCC). For none of them was it the first oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Utah. Colborn, for his part, did his job flawlessly, unlike the Chief Justice of the United States last January 20 -- though he did it on a much smaller stage, of course.

Mayor Thompson made some brief, gracious remarks, noting the satisfactions of public service and pledging his full support to his successor. Mayor Hadfield then made some presentations: a plaque for Mayor Thompson, flowers for Mrs. Hadfield (there was some kissing, too), and small gifts for Councilman Gunther and MFCC.

There was a hearty round of applause for Mayor Thompson. Then, as he went to leave the meeting, Councilman Rick Storrs stopped him and offered some brief laudatory and appreciative remarks about him. Another ovation followed for Mayor Thompson. One of them -- I don't recall which -- was a standing ovation, which I happily joined.

Mayor Hadfield spoke very briefly, then took his seat, and the meeting proceeded to two further items of business. One related to an adjustment of the city's boundary and another involved the governance of water. Both these motions passed unanimously without discussion, as did the final motion: to adjourn. (In the similar meeting in 2006, the motion to adjourn was forgotten. Somehow, the world kept turning.)

There were cookies and punch downstairs for all comers. I had to leave shortly thereafter, before shaking the new mayor's hand, but not before noting to a couple of people I know that I have never known James Hadfield to prolong a meeting unnecessarily, and I've been to a lot of meetings which he conducted.

I wasn't kidding: all that happened in 15 minutes, and it didn't seem particularly rushed. Brevity notwithstanding, it was a deservedly gracious and dignified send-off for Mayor Thompson.

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