The Ajmera Aftermath: Boredom
Council blinds Trump backers with business of government
City Council member Dimple Ajmera stepped into an ant pile last week when, on WCNC’s “Flashpoint,” she said Trump supporters “should have no place” holding city office. Online reaction was predictably ferocious, and a group of local GOP volunteers announced plans for a “sit-in” at the council meeting Monday night.
Thankfully, it turned out to be … nothing much, actually. About 50 volunteers camped in the council chamber’s stadium seating, many of them bearing Trump-Pence signs and MAGA hats. But they remained mostly quiet. The only stirring came during the Pledge of Allegiance, when some in the crowd emphasized “FOR ALL” at the end, and one young man muttered, “Even people we disagree with.” That moment passed, and the city’s elected officials got down to business.
It was then that the council may have stumbled on an antidote to Trump-inspired fervor: boredom. Early on, council members took up the matter of a proposed two-story structure to link Bojangles’ Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium, a leftover from the days when the city was examining the site as a potential amateur sports complex. (That idea has been shelved indefinitely.) It seemed like a fairly straightforward agenda item.
But the discussion took off and, like a runaway balloon, veered all over the place, and for the better part of an hour. Council members expounded on the proposal’s relation to other spending needs; to the expense in light of the ongoing soccer stadium debate; to the effects of an election year on the decision they were about to make; about whether the money for the improvements should come from the city’s tourism tax fund or another source, or a combination; and, finally, exactly what the heck they were voting on. There were motions, and substitute motions. (The council eventually approved the item.)
Roughly a half-hour into this, the eyes of some of the ardent Trump fans began to glaze over. People trickled out. One neck-bearded young gentleman in the front row—who had prepared for the evening by donning a white dress shirt and tie—stared straight ahead, impassive, as the man next to him locked eyes with his smartphone.
The meeting began at 7 p.m. By 8:45, the stands were empty except for Jane Whitley, who chairs the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party; and her partner, longtime Democratic campaign manager Dan McCorkle, who was helping Ajmera with her messaging. Ajmera, appointed to represent East Charlotte’s District 2 in January, is running for an at-large council seat, so this was good practice in the art of staying on point.
The sitters-in had made theirs, although it wasn’t clear afterward that it was the one they’d meant to make. They’d begun the evening by insisting on the right to be included in the workings of Charlotte government. Then they encountered the workings of Charlotte government, and—aside from a few dazed souls who stuck around in the Government Center lobby afterward—decided they had better things to do.