Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » "Good morning Mr. Mayor..."

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is how the conversation began this humid and soon to be heated morning as I climbed from my truck and walked into 700 Main.

I was headed to a secret meeting of Victoria's elite. I have only been invited to the follow-up second meeting in the past. Apparently, the first hush-hush meeting takes place a little earlier at Ramsey's over coffee and breakfast. This reminds me, I need to eat there sometime, it is packed every morning!

The open-to-public secret pre-meeting ritualistically begins with greetings, coffee, and choosing a chair, the seat kind, not the head of the board. There are plenty to pick from, but I have chosen a very specific chair toward the back, actually, one row in front of the back. As the local dignitaries, heads of business, reporters, and citizens file in, chatter ensues about what is going on in the local area. Exactly, and always exactly, at 7:30 the meeting begins.

Like many of the fine establishments in the area, hospitality is the first order of the meeting. Guests are introduced and welcomed. A reminder that free coffee and in the case of today cookies are available. On some Tuesday mornings, a speaker is lined up to share information or present a major move by a company and how it affects Victoria. On other days, it is an open meeting. To me personally, I enjoy these because it typically involves very local news and business and the welcome previews of upcoming Victoria attractions from the Victoria Zoo, history extravaganzas, etc.

One thing almost always strikes me. It is the hospitality of the people present. Victoria must be one of the most hospitable places to be. I hear this over and over. The gesture of hospitality is given whether or not you agree with local politics, economics, education, etc. Even though there are differences on the how-to of making Victoria better, everyone has the same goal and desire to "Keep Victoria Beautiful," symbolically, literally, anagogically, morally, and all the other "ly" words that would make Victoria a better place. This is what separates our city from many others. Victorians are generally and genuinely concerned for their beloved city. I believe this is why so much emotion ensues over the local major happenings. However, despite the emotions, I have met with many of the different "camps" in a more personal manner, and each have been hospitable.

I will share one personal example. There have been things that I have disagreed on with things the city does. I mentioned one of my concerns regarding a project in the city's docket at this Tuesday morning meeting a few months ago. The mayor could have just ignored my concern. He could have changed the topic to suit his needs. He could have stopped after he made his comment. However, the mayor of Victoria earned my respect when he actually called my phone to make sure I received an answer to my question. Regardless of political, economic, administrative, or business differences I had, a follow-up phone call from someone that is plenty busy leading a city and business showed me that he is a great example of Victorian hospitality.

BTW, these Tuesday meetings can get packed. If you want a comfortable seat, come about 10 minutes early. As you walk in, look for the young Victorian native that will be wearing a business coat and standing near the door and let him know I invited you!