One couldn’t burp without getting a standing ovation and some sobs as city officials threw a love fest for outgoing councilmen Gil Hill, Hood and Cleveland last week. Dozens clamored outside the standing-room-only council chambers, waiting through emotional singing and raucous laughter for the promise of free hors d’oeuvres and cake.
Before the party, the three politicos voted on their last issue — with Hill and Cleveland casting ayes and Hood a nay — on a law allowing city employees, including homosexuals, who are not married to register significant others for benefits. It passed 7-2. Though the council won’t vote on granting actual benefits until January, it seems there’s enough support lined up.
During the ensuing party, Cleveland drew the loudest ovations and the most tears from well-wishers, including councilwomen Brenda Scott and Kay Everett. Cleveland, who served 28 years on council, is leaving after his wife accused him of pushing her down a flight of stairs and beating her with a TV remote control and a pistol. Cleveland copped a plea to misdemeanor domestic violence charges and received two years’ probation.
In comparison, the silence was deafening for Hill, who gave up his council seat in a failed bid to become mayor. Hill, who’s starting a consulting business, said he “feels great.” Hood was lauded by an assistant for the free lunches and staff retreats to Mackinac Island and elsewhere. Hood also was the only council member to hand out gifts, giving clocks to his staff. In wrapping things up, Councilman Ken Cockrel said his time in office reminded him, though he’s not a Grateful Dead fan, of the lyric, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]