Five easy pickings in group of 39
We interrupt this week of grown-up conversation to return to the sandbox known as the Citrus County Library Advisory Board appointments.
A process that would usually take about 14 seconds now will require a full day of…well, we’re not exactly sure what will transpire Tuesday when the seven-member library governing board — five commissioners, plus a council member from each city — will choose five advisory board members from 39 applicants.
You read that right: 39. See the applications here.
I have good news though. We have some very talented, bright and thoughtful people in this community who want to serve.
Before I get into some details, a word about Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr.’s plan to whittle these names down to five.
Kitchen proposes a voting system so that the cream rises to the top. This is how County Administrator Randy Oliver explained it an email to commissioners:
“The Chairman has suggested that each Commissioner rank the applicants…and then you can discuss the qualifications of the highest rated applicants.”
This is a terrible idea.
I’ve seen this process before and participated in it. Without getting into the math, I can say it benefits someone with a shrewd understanding of how to manipulate people and circumstances.
It’s possible and even likely that, under the Kitchen proposal, the library advisory board will wind up with members that three commissioners don’t support, but their rankings from Kitchen and Canahan are high enough to make the cut. Confused? That’s the point. Now you see why we shouldn’t do it that way.
Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach said as much in response to Oliver’s email.
She wrote: “No disrespect but the Chair can process the applications as he sees fit. I have my own process. So, I will not be following Ron’s suggestion.”
Calling for nominations and voting up/down each one may take all day, but it’s better than ranking a list of volunteers. It’s not like the county is hiring a consultant.
OK, that's out of the way. A few words about the applicants.
— All five library board members up for reappointment want reappointment. In most cases, the county commission reappoints those who want it. But not all, and this is likely one of those circumstances.
None of them deserve the boot, but I’m not sure there’s a county commission majority that wants to draw the line in the sand with the Library Guy Gang by reappointing all five.
So that said, two members — Shavonna Reid and Carol Spring — have outstanding credentials and were appointed for the first time in January. Removing one or both after just three months makes no sense.
(Board member Neale Brennan, who seeks reappointment, is a longtime friend. She’s responsible for the purple curtains hanging at the Just Wright Citrus world headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson.)
— Some applications are lacking in detail while others have a resume and letter. One person’s resume went on for seven pages. I especially appreciated when some explained their community passion.
Patricia Gardner, Inverness: “After my late husband and I moved from New England to Citrus County to raise our children, I served on the School Advisory Enhancement Council for Inverness Primary School and volunteered with organizations including Citrus United Basket, the Inverness Lions Club, where I served as Secretary, and the old Courthouse Museum, where I was a greeter and guide. I want to keep giving back to this wonderful community by serving on the Library Advisory Board.”
Paula Johnson, Inverness: “Since settling in Citrus County seven years ago, I have remained active in my community and church by serving as a mediator with the court system, a certified biblical counselor for premarital and married couples, and an organizer of such charitable endeavors as Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. I also have presented and facilitated gardening and craft workshops at Lecanto Primary School and the Lakes Region Library in Inverness.”
These are just two examples. It's encouraging to see so much community involvement from citizens.
— Library Guy applied. He’s lived in Inverness for one year and yet couldn’t list a single thing he’s done for our community. Plenty of time to stir up trouble (including handing out anti-library literature at — no kidding — an Easter sunrise service), but no time for his neighbors.
— Two names: Rebecca Martin and Justin Strickland. Rebecca is a member of the Chronicle Editorial Board, so she’s likely dead in the water to Kitchen and Carnahan. And Justin, a close friend, is executive pastor at Crystal River Church of God and a Crystal River businessman.
Both are dynamic leaders in Citrus County who work very well with other people.
— Of course, I have my biases: John Cooper and Max Schulman. John has a Ph.D and volunteers in the community. Max has a master’s in public administration and is an author.
Yeah, yeah. But here’s what really counts: They both have ties to Central Michigan University, my alma mater. John taught and Max attended. Max left CMU with a master’s and I left still owing $400 in parking tickets.
I know that’s a lot to absorb on a Wednesday. Soon we will move on from this nonsense. Until then, the community owes thanks to our neighbors who saw an injustice being done to the library and want to help out.
Enjoy your Citrus County Wednesday, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.