So, how was your Tuesday? Mine was…interesting.
It started a week ago. I was scheduling a house cleaning at the Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters to prepare for Mike’s 65th and Bluegrass this Saturday. I wanted to pick a day I wouldn’t be around to give my friend the time she needed to perform miracle cleaning in the house.
Tuesday was perfect. My calendar said the county had an elected leaders summit scheduled and those things generally go into the early afternoon, so I had a plan.
But I wanted to make sure. There are a lot of details swimming in my head these days, so I looked at the clerk of court’s website to confirm the meeting day, time and location.
And I didn’t see it. Now. I’m sure it was there all along and I skipped right past it. Regardless of the circumstances, I figured the meeting was canceled or rescheduled so I forgot about it.
Tuesday was still a good cleaning day. I’d attend the Community Alliance of Citrus County meeting in the morning, then head to the library or Cattle Dog to write. Easy peasy.
Shortly before the alliance meeting started, a friend sitting next to me said he had an extra ticket to the Rays game and would I like to go. Heck yeah! The day was set.
Around 9:40 I received a text. And another. Both people had the same question: Where are you?
“No summit attendance for you? WTC this AM, started at 9:00,” one text read.
My answer: “Crap! Leaving now.”
Now. There is no feeling so sinking as a reporter than to realize I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I’m a big supporter of the community alliance, but if the County Commission is meeting, I’m there; if not, I’m sick, dead or mistakenly somewhere else.
I raced from Lecanto to Withlacoochee Technical College cursing myself in one breath and calming myself in another. All I had to do was remember one thing:
These always work out in my favor.
It is UNCANNY how often I’ve shown up late at an important government meeting only to have the very discussion I’m interested in start the moment I walk through the door. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened over 36 years. Millions maybe.
It's usually the county planning commission. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. and there’s no schedule for specific zoning cases, so I try to time it. Even the most mundane land-use case takes 30 minutes. So, if there are three applications before the one I’m interested in, I arrive at 10 a.m, I should be OK.
More often than not, just as I show up, I’ll hear the chairman call the next case, Developer vs. The World.
Though the stakes Tuesday weren’t at that level, I never want to miss a County Commission meeting. These elected leaders' summits, while a pain to write a news story about, are really quite interesting in the long run.
I’m appreciative of people who watch out for me. I get shivers thinking of going to that Rays game and finding out in the sixth inning that I missed a County Commission meeting because I mixed up the schedule. Sorry, but that just won’t cut it. If I choose not to attend, that’s one thing, but missing it due to negligence will eat at me. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
I’ll break down some of the topics of conversation in future blogs. I heard interesting stuff about “attainable” (formerly "affordable") housing, rebuilding after a hurricane, and residential road resurfacing.
Real quick on the roads: The cities made a great point about the County Commission increasing property taxes by nearly 18% and saying part of that tax increase is to boost the residential road paving program.
Inverness Councilwoman Jacquie Hepfer said city residents are asking if they’re paying more county property taxes, shouldn’t the county be funding some of the city’s road paving?
“The worst thing you can tell people as elected officials is, ‘I don’t know,’” she said.
Commissioner Diana Finegan said the cities were spot on. Other commissioners, though, had that deer in the headlights look, as if they never considered the idea of sharing tax money for road resurfacing.
That’s just one of the many fascinating topics our elected leaders batted about on Tuesday. Glad I was there.
For most of it, anyway.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.