As polls go, the one conducted last week by Councilman Gordon Haight was a strange one.

Haight, who recently has sponsored resolutions to have the council formally "apologize" for comments some of its members make in public or in the press, took a new tack by conducting a poll at the Sept. 1 council meeting with a single question:Were council members, he asked, willing to work within the guidelines of their job as outlined by city ordinance?

Now the average person might see this kind of question as being loaded, rhetorical and somewhat analogous to that old "Do you still beat your spouse?" inquiry.

Not Haight, who proceeded to pose the question to each individual council member.

He prefaced his poll by citing the work of "tremendous city staff" and observing "it's real easy to take potshots" and magnify the city's problems, "especially through the press."

By that time, it was beginning to dawn on some folks in the council chamber this might be Haight's latest strategy for muzzling Mayor Donna Evans and one or two councilmen who may not share his devotion to city administration.

Councilman Brian Pitts immediately answered "yes," but the city's newest council member, David Newton, was having a little more trouble trying to make sense of Haight's little poll.

"I'm not sure what you're getting at," he told Haight.

Newton indicated he was perfectly willing to comply with all state and city laws but made it clear he still reserved the right to ask questions whenever it seemed appropriate.

Evans said she would be "more than happy" to work within the guidelines for her job description.

That answer wasn't quite good enough for Haight, who said he wanted the mayor to answer "either a yes or a no."

"Yes, of course," she replied.

Haight was a little more forgiving with Councilman David Plouzek, who responded "I believe I have been" complying with his job parameters. He also assured Haight, however, that he would continue to represent the best interests of his constituents.