Been spending so much time on politics lately I’d forgotten how enjoyable a County Commission meeting could be.
You heard me.
Some people go to the movies for fun. I sit in the back of the room and observe government in action, as was the case Tuesday:
— Commissioner Scott Carnahan threw a monkey wrench into the county administrator search by declaring none of the applicants passed muster.
“I am not too impressed with all the applicants,” he said. “My expectations are higher than what I’ve seen come in.”
The county received 25 applications. I zipped through them and two caught my eye as a Citrus County fit: Tobey Phillips, who I previously mentioned, and Terry Suggs, Putnam County administrator.
Carnahan made his remarks as Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. outlined a suggested plan to move forward: Select finalists at Sept. 13 meeting; interview and make a final pick on Sept. 27.
The subject clearly makes some commissioners uncomfortable.
“What’s our Plan B if we (can’t) find that person?” Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach asked. “I don’t see any Randy Olivers in that group.”
Commissioner Jeff Kinnard purposely did not weigh in, saying he wants to watch the process play out.
The idea is to have a new administrator by October.
To answer Schlabach’s question, there is no Plan B that I’m aware of. Oliver is resigning no later than Nov. 29.
Of course, politics plays smack dab into this. Both Carnahan and Kitchen flat out rejected some calls that the administrator decision be delayed until after their replacements take office in late November; District 4’s Rebecca Bays and District 2’s likely winner, Diana Finegan, are invited to participate.
Carnahan now casting doubt on the crop of applicants sort of throws the whole thing off balance.
— The board will have a public hearing in October about moving legal notices from the Chronicle to the clerk of court’s website and I’m sure you couldn’t care less.
Most people don’t read the legals. I’m not most people. The legals are where I find out about board meetings, foreclosure lawsuits and when the sheriff’s office is having a public auction to sell off the stuff confiscated in drug raids.
Legals are printed in the Chronicle, the local newspaper of record. They’re called “public notices” and you can also find them on the newspaper’s website.
I mention this incredibly exciting subject because the state Legislature, in yet another attaboy to the Florida media, passed a law that says counties can publish public notices on their own websites and bypass the local newspaper.
To make this switch requires the county to do it cheaper and broadband must be available to most citizens.
So, a few things:
We’ll get an answer in October. I know — you can hardly wait.
— Commissioners were lukewarm to the idea of helping the state pay for a new traffic signal at Gospel Island Road and S.R. 44 in order to hurry the project along.
We covered this the other day. Kinnard said the Florida Department of Transportation agreed a signal is warranted but suggested it could move up faster on the priority list if the county had a little skin in the game.
How much skin, well that was the big question. Kinnard said FDOT at first suggested 40-to-50%.
“I said no way we’re going there,” Kinnard said.
A number was tossed out: $100,000.
Then Carnahan had a good question: What does county buy-in get us? Will the signal go up in six months instead of 12?
Kinnard said he’d narrow down some answers from FDOT and bring it back.
All in all, a good county commission meeting from the back of the room. A pleasant way to spend my Tuesday.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.