Office politics

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

I started a new a habit a few weeks ago. On Wednesdays when there's a Reno City Council meeting, I sit in the council chambers and do my editing. I used to go to a lot of council meetings back when Jeff Griffin and crew spent so much time selling out Reno's future and ignoring the will of the majority by blowing up the Mapes Hotel and silencing the train whistles by spending hundreds of millions of dollars—and I don't think I've ever seen a calculation of the final total compounded interest—by putting the trains in a trench. It was unquestionably the mayor and council using their power to benefit a chosen few at the expense of others.

I'm not going to the meetings because City Council has become my new beat. I learned a long time ago that this paper does better steering the dialog outside of government. I'm just there because I like to see how the political culture works, to gain insight into who's pulling the strings and how they're pulling them. I want to be able to attach attitudes to the names I sometimes see in the local media.

But it's a different place, and not just because City Hall is a different building. It has a completely different vibe. Back in the day, there used to be real animosity among factions that would play out in public. Even after Bob Cashell came into office, I'd get the impression that he was demanding consensus, and I'd hear through the grapevine that he could be more than intimidating behind the scenes.

But this council is a different thing. Mayor Hillary Scheive's more than cordial to everyone. All of the councilmembers seem smart—and I can't think of time previous that I could say that. Jenny Brekhus and Paul McKenzie are the two most likely to seem off the chosen path, although they generally vote with the pack. In fact, it seems as though the team is arranged with how much the councilperson is in alignment with the mayor and city manager Andrew Clinger.

Frequently, their questions suggest prior intelligence. There must be quite a pile of information passed in those caucus meetings to have so little discussion at the table.