Of my many newsroom experiences, among the worst is the knowledge late in the day that the story I’ve promised the editor since 9 a.m. just isn’t going to make it.
No matter how well something comes together there comes a moment in the late afternoon when it’s fish-or-cut bait time. Especially if new information comes about or some stuff just doesn’t add up.
That realization is followed by a long walk of shame to the editor’s office where the news is usually met with words I cannot repeat in a family blog.
I no longer have an angry editor hanging over my head, but I still have that inner clock that says when it’s time to punt. For me, it’s 6 p.m. If I’m not comfortable with the plan by then, I move to Plan B which, as you’ve no doubt noticed, involves plenty of improvisation.
Well, it’s Plan B time.
So here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to play the role of editor, and I’ll explain what happened. The only qualification you need is gruffness. The gruffer, the better. You want reporters to tremble walking into your office. Got it? Here we go.
I had a plan. A good plan. A workable plan.
(Already the icy stare. You literally have stopped what you’re doing. You’re going to make me work for this.)
After that marathon County Commission meeting Tuesday, Chairman Holly Davis reminded me that the Tourist Development Council met at 9 a.m. Wednesday. I normally wouldn’t care, but there’s that issue of Crystal River upset because the TDC wouldn’t OK $350,000 for new restrooms at Hunter Springs Park.
As a government geek the issue fascinates me. I didn’t understand why Councilman Ken Frink pitched such a fit when the TDC last month said it wouldn’t support any money for the restrooms.
Although the city makes a decent point — tourists are overwhelming the current facilities — it’s quite the policy shift to go from spending money on projects that bring people here, to paying for upgrades to city property.
I even heard a term for it: “destination management.”
(Still staring. I can tell I’m going to soon lose you. Uh oh.)
Well, Davis wasn’t at the meeting last month when the city went away unhappy. She would be there Wednesday, and the matter was coming back for another vote.
So, I figured this is a no-brainer. I’d attend the TDC meeting, see how it all went down, and write a blog about whether we should change our way of thinking about spending tourism revenue. That focus forever was marketing or capital projects that bring people here for overnight stays.
Restrooms are not a tourist draw, but the city says it’s tourists causing the need for more of them.
You see how this could cause some debate in the tourism community?
(I’m moving along. Hang in there.)
For reasons I’m not going to get into now, the meeting had some interesting moments that brought about a shift in my thinking for the blog. I now had two options, and both required research exclusive of the other. I had to choose which option to take.
First, though, I had an appointment with Andrea McCray at the Crystal Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Crystal River. No way I was going to cancel that. Andrea is heading an organization raising funds for the cemetery, which has deep roots in the African-American community. I’ll have more in Friday’s blog; read here about the project and Saturday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Gala at the College of Central Florida.
After our visit, I decided to head over to Hunter Springs Park for a few photos. See, even then I was still planning on the TDC restrooms blog.
Where everything sorta went haywire was my decision to visit Fort Island Gulf Beach. That wasn’t on the agenda. But I had a good reason for going: I felt like it.
Any trip through Crystal River on a sunny day includes, if I have nowhere to be at the moment, a drive out to the beach. No particular reason. Just a nice drive to clear my head.
(You’re busy. I’ll cut to the chase.)
I stopped for Buddy’s treats on the way home, and by the time I sat down at the computer it was after 5 — and I had to make a call. I ended up taking a pass, for now, on the whole thing.
(I know you’re not happy. I can see it in your snarl.)
Enjoy your Thursday, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.