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Fable of the City Council Rowing Contest
Posting Date: 09/10/2011

Betty Haines

This column was originally written in March 2009.

Once upon a time, the Mayor and City Council of Smarttown, Nevada challenged the Mayor and City Council of Mesquite to a Sweep Rowing Contest on Lake Mead.

The Queen of Mesquite, never one to shy away from a photo opportunity; immediately accepted the challenge on behalf of her Court. In her usual Queenly manner, she appointed two of the most loyal yes-men (I mean members of her Court) to take care of this project.

In their usual “sheep like” manner, these members set about obeying the Queen’s orders. They didn’t want to incur her wrath by spending funds that she could use for other things, perhaps a second Regional Park to bring in more revenue, so they decided to be thrifty. They drove over to UNLV and borrowed a boat from the University rowing team. The coach of the UNLV rowing team offered his services; for a small fee, he would do the rigging and give the Mesquite Council members training in the art of Sweep Rowing skills. The Councilmen responded, “Thanks; but, I’m sure we can get the hang of it without your help.” They loaded the boat on a borrowed trailer and off they went.

Smarttown Mayor and City Council held a town meeting and got their citizens involved in the preparation for the contest. A retired rowing coach offered his services to develop a team of Council members and train them in the fine art of Sweep Rowing. A boat manufacturer provided a sleek new boat, in return for free advertising. A couple of experienced riggers were pressed into service to ready the boat; they adjusted the height, pitch, spread, span, collar location, boat trim, etc. Then, the boat was put in the water and all the riggings were tested and some readjustments

were made. Finally, the boat was washed and waxed to a gleaming shine.

The Mesquite rowing team practiced whenever they could match schedules. For Mesquite Council members this was not easy; they were busy with all the changes going on in the City.

Smarttown rowing team, feeling that city pride was at stake, adjusted schedules, made it a priority to show up at practice times, and practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the day of the race, before a huge crowd of spectators, Smarttown won by ½ mile. The Queen demanded and got a rematch.

Mesquite Mayor and City Council were very discouraged and depressed. They initiated an investigation into the reason for the crushing defeat. The investigation revealed:

Smarttown’s team had 8 people rowing and 1 coxswain; Mesquite’s team had 7 coxswains and 2 people rowing.

Mesquite City Council hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money to do an independent investigation into the actual cause of the loss. Their findings were:

Too many coxswains and not enough people rowing.

To prevent another loss the Queen and her Court totally reorganized the structure of the rowing team. The restructured team had 4 coxswain supervisors, 3 coxswains, 2 people rowing.

To encourage the rowers and give them the incentive to work harder, the Mayor and Council Members took them out to dinner, bought them new team shirts, got new oars, and promised them an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas if the Mesquite team won.

The second race resulted in Smarttown winning by 1 mile. The Queen and her Court were humiliated; they publicly berated the rowers for poor performance, took back the new shirts, sold the new oars, and used money that was earmarked for the rowers’ trip to Las Vegas and consoled themselves with….. You guessed it – a trip to Las Vegas.

And they all lived happily, until the next election.


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