Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Village Meeting

We went to the American Legion-VFW building on Emma Street last night for a 'reception' for our new Mayor and District Commissioner. Mark Rossi, running against George Halloran for re-election in a runoff on November 1, sat in at the officials table and participated in the Q&A that went on for almost two hours.

We didn't get to the VFW until about 5:30, after Janet came home from work. The reception was scheduled to run from 5 to 7 PM, but when we got there new District VI Commissioner Clayton Lopez hadn't arrived. Mayor Morgan McPherson and Commissioner Rossi were in the hall mingling with the very small crowd gathered. We spotted George and Susan and joined them, sharing the table with a friend of theirs (whose name escapes me).

The evening's moderator, Virginia Stafford of Stafford-Gordon Consultants, introduced McPherson and Rossi at about 5:45; both made a few opening remarks, then opened up for an unscripted Q&A.

We came away feeling very positive. McPherson and Lopez each gave their personal assurances that their approach to government is going to be citizen-oriented, and that they will instill that approach into the administration of the City's various departments. Rossi was in synch with the others. He's running hard to keep his seat on the Commission, to which he was appointed only a few months ago when Mereli McCoy died.

Forums like this one are difficult to hold because of Florida's very strong Sunshine Law. It limits what public officials can say in the presence of each other on matters that could come to them for consideration and action at a later time, unless in a properly advertised meeting. The law is designed to eliminate back-room politics, and mostly it works. But it inhibited what the three could say in response to citizens questions.

Lopez and McPherson both have agreed to hold such meetings in Bahama Village once a month, although not necessarily together. Lopez is also going to walk through his district regularly, meeting with residents and talking with them about their concerns. He invited others to join him in his walks, and I said I'd like to do it. I hope that others will too.

After Rossi and McPherson left, Rossi to prepare for his debate with George Halloran, and McPherson to serve as Grand Marshall of the high school Homecoming Week parade, Lopez stayed on and discussed specific concerns of Bahama Village, including things like how the community policing initiative is working, street cleanliness, and performance of the City's departments.

There was some interesting talk throughout the evening. I may bring some of those things up later. Now I have to go and prepare for tonight's City Commission meeting, and to take care of some things related to the Gina for Queena (of Fantasy Fest) campaign. We're holding our last event tonight, Ginatini Tuesday, at Virgilios at 9 PM. Gina's cousin Gino will be singing from the Frank Sinatra songbook along with Skipper Kripitz and his League of Crafty Muisicians. Gino was looking for his pink tuxedo the other day. I hope he found it. Drop in if you're in town and join us as we celebrate the end of the campaign. Come to the Coronation Ball at the Casa Marina on Friday night, too. It's always a fun event. Admission to both events is only five dollars.

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