Sometimes, you go to a Cedar Rapids City Council meeting and a colloquy breaks out.
A colloquy, by the way, is a dialogue, a conversation, perhaps a serious and high-level one, according to Merriam-Webster. It’s of Latin origin, in use since the 15th century, no less.
Back here in the 21st century, it was City Council member Justin Shields who interrupted Tuesday’s regular meeting to ask Mayor Ron Corbett if he could squeeze in a “colloquy.” If you thought Shields was the least likely council member to break into Latin, you were mistaken. Although his colleagues seemed a little amused.
Shields said all members of the council support a one-cent local-option sales tax for streets projects. But he’s heard that not all local residents trust the council. Also, Shields said he’s heard that some folks worry that the council is going to use penny tax money to construct a bunch of new roads, at the expense of fixing existing ones.
He might have read some of those concerns in this space a couple of Sundays back.
But Shields is taken aback by such a notion. “Suddenly, we’re going to forget all of the city streets that are in terrible shape,” Shields said, sarcastically. “I don’t know of any new roads we’re going to build.”
“So I’m asking you, sir, do you know of any new roads that we’re building?” Shields asked the mayor. Corbett said there are plans to extend Ellis Boulevard. But a long-planned extension of an existing street shouldn’t really count as a “new street.” There’s also talk of extending 14th Street SE near St. Wenceslaus Church, another long-planned project. Streets included in any new developments are paid for by developers. And this is a council focused on infill development.
“I don’t have any knowledge of any new roads that Cedar Rapids plans on building,” Corbett said.
“You didn’t lie to me, did you?” Shields asked.
“No, I didn’t,” Corbett said.
Theatrics continued as Shields went ’round the table, asking each council member if they knew of any new streets in the works. Each one said they did not. “I know of no others,” Mayor pro tem Monica Vernon said.
“I would just hope that for once and for all we can put to bed all of this ‘new road building,’ ” Shields said.
So the council is vowing, one and all, that sales tax dollars won’t go for building brand new streets. They’re on the record. But will this truly put the trust issue to bed? It’s incertus. That’s Latin for uncertain, doubtful.