After the Chattanooga City Council was lectured on Tuesday by state attorney Elisha Hodge of the Office of Open Records Counsel regarding how the council violated Tennessee open meetings laws, members of the council started to use alternate communication methods, such as speaking in Pig Latin, to skirt the current rules.
“Sometimes, we want to discuss matters that we simply don’t want the public to know about,” said the City Council in a written statement.
“For example, which council member has three nipples, which one made out with their blood-related cousin back in high school, and which one has a tattoo of Cheech and Chong on their butt,” said the statement. “One face on each cheek.”
Last week, the council discussed the city’s $24 million streetlight replacement program behind closed doors, even forcing a reporter to leave.
The council first claimed that the attorney-client privilege protected it, then said that audit-related discussions were private and finally maintained that the meeting was an information session, after Hodge refuted the first claims.
“Everyone in government says they are for transparency,” said the statement. “But really, we prefer translucency, like a paper wrapper around a hamburger that has been left in a car all afternoon, soaked with grease so you can kind of, sort of see through it.”
Observers noted that council members began to obscure their communication after Hodge’s clarification of the law by using various methods, such as using code names and spelling out words, while keeping the meeting open to the public.
“I was totally bewildered by what they were saying,” said Chattanooga resident Albert Bodmann, who was in attendance. “One of them said something like, ‘izmay odgehay ancay itebay emay.'”