It’s the end of another week and I’m a little cranky.
Had my first “sick day” at Just Wright Citrus on Thursday, causing me to miss the Business Appreciation Month (BAM) tour of Citrus County businesses and the chance to be on a bus all day with politicians and community leaders — my people.
So instead of today’s blog providing insight on all that very cool stuff, I’m going to whine.
You guys know me, right? I’m a political guy. I don’t try to hide it. Heck, I write about politics just about every day.
My current approach to covering local politics is much different than the previous 34 years at the Chronicle. There are a lot of processes in a newsroom and what gets reported isn’t my call. So coverage was somewhat formulaic.
Just Wright Citrus, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, has no such filter. The only process for getting my thoughts to website is… getting my thoughts to website. I’m the process.
I miss the camaraderie of the newsroom, the exchange of ideas and suggestions. Colleagues who would tell me when I’m off base.
At Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson, it’s just little ol’ me. I reach out occasionally to people in my circle, oftentimes on specific issues, for a gut check to make sure I’ve thought it all through.
That was my thinking Wednesday when I called a respected Inverness businessman, someone I’ve known for years, to get his take on the city elections that seem to be taking an ugly turn.
He was pretty up front: He doesn’t like the politics and doesn’t understand why we can’t leave the city the way it is — well run, filled with activities, taxes in line and, best of all, a city council with mutual respect for one another.
That nice hometown feel of Inverness is falling apart before my friend’s eyes, and it’s all taken place during the last six weeks of this election.
Totally agree and I take blame for my part. This is not the Inverness campaign season I envisioned.
This should be a great time to discuss where we are as a city and how best to move forward. Instead I see a lot of small-town nonsense, almost an indignation taking place that is very un-Inverness like.
Former City Manager Frank DiGiovanni used to say it doesn’t rain in Inverness unless we want it to. He had that outlook about the city and it was catchy.
Why that outlook has clouded during an election is beyond me. The only thing I can think is we’re just so inexperienced at contested elections that some folks are having trouble coping.
So, here we go:
—Mayor Bob Plaisted should understand that he has an opponent, the person is on the ballot legitimately and, while I don’t know of Max Schulman other than my few chats with him, people tell me he’s a stand-up guy. Plaisted is giving him the “who put you up to this” treatment, like he’s an obscure nobody and somebody’s puppet.
Major peeve: Elected office holders who think they own the office and are offended when someone runs against them.
— To both Plaisted and incumbent Dave Ryan, campaigning from the dais is a TERRIBLE IDEA. Some say it’s illegal; neither have gone that far. They’re not passing out bumper stickers during meetings. But they’re both — Plaisted especially — extremely defensive against criticism.
— The challengers, Schulman and Crystal Lizanich for Ryan’s seat, have been cordial. Schulman wants a wholesale change in the mayor’s role and Lizanich keeps hammering on the city’s inadequate website. I appreciate that they're both newbies in the political realm and they've conducted themselves well. Beyond that…where’s the vision?
— Traffic, growth, affordable housing, taxes. All significant issues for city residents. Have heard nary a peep about those topics, aside from Labriola Guy wanting to protect Inverness from Tampa Democrats.
— During all this, some folks are trying to make trouble at City Hall, hammering City Manager Eric Williams for this or that. I’m not going to get into the details, but it’s extremely unfortunate. And childish.
—Finally, and here’s the real deal: Inverness is a great city. It is well managed. The city council does a terrific job. Plaisted is known as “Mayor Bob” and that should tell you something. Ryan is a visible leader throughout the community.
Doesn’t mean we avoid elections. Doesn’t mean we can’t do better. Doesn’t mean one person is right and another person is wrong. It means we have conversations.
And now I’ve had mine, I’m not so cranky. Have an awesome weekend, friends.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.