Thursday, July 4, 2013

Goosegate: Life imitating art

Parks and Recreation is a clever, understated TV series based on the politics of a fictional small town in Indiana.

Goosegate is an actual and ongoing series of events happening here in Idaho Falls that would make for a good P and R episode.

Here's the plot:

The city of Idaho Falls, over many years and with the unyielding assistance of the local Rotary Club, has developed a spectacular greenbelt on either side of the Snake River where it passes through town. Included in this development are miles of lush, green grass. Green grass (a goose's favorite food). Water. People ignoring the signs imploring them to not feed the wildlife.

What you get, of course, is hundreds of geese. And hundreds of pounds -- probably tons -- of goose poop.

The city has a new Parks and Recreation director from Back East. He's a good guy -- enthusiastic, full of ideas, a real shot in the arm for our town. The director, however, doesn't like goose poop, at least at the level it is now being produced along the greenbelt. So, he meets with his citizen commission and tells them of a plan to relocate most of the geese to a wetland area well outside of town. This will be done during July, when the geese are molting and can't fly, thereby discouraging them from immediately returning to town, as it's simply too far to goose-step all the way back (sorry for that).

Alas, he hasn't informed the city council of his plan. A member of his citizen commission leaks the story to the press (that's us), including a tape recording of the meeting. We call the director, who politely answers our questions. After finishing the interview, he immediately sends an email to the city council decrying the "premature" release of information about the goose plan, declaring the commissioner's move as "unfortunate." One city councilor writes to our Deep Throat (the commissioner -- do I have to spell it out for you?) that the big problem here is that the city council had to learn about the goose move in the newspaper.

The newspaper then publishes a follow-up story with this unforgettable headline (I confess: I suggested using the term "goosegate"): "Goosegate at I.F. City Hall." It is, by far, the most popular story on our website today.

This is only the beginning, I think. Among other things, assuming the geese are relocated, what's to prevent new groups of gaggles from settling down on our greenbelt? You can almost hear them as they approach:

"What's that down there?"

"Looks like lush, green grass next to a lovely slow-moving river."

"And what are those people doing?"

"Hmmm, it looks like ... THEY"RE FEEDING GEESE BREAD AND STUFF!"

"Jim, our plans have changed. Let's stay."

"You got it, Martha. Come on gang (turning to those in the wider parts of the "V"), there's grass, bread and water down there!"

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