Here we go again! In the 1990’s we had meetings conducted in the morning hours. Again, it was denied by the commissioners, but we all knew the real reason, “Early hours prevent late hour citizen involvement”. Some folks work!


Dear Editor:



Here we go again! In the 1990’s we had meetings conducted in the morning hours. Again, it was denied by the commissioners, but we all knew the real reason, “Early hours prevent late hour citizen involvement”. Some folks work! They (commissioners) never defined the real reason but we knew “it was for their convenience?”



The county administrator was head of the building department in those days. Recalling from personal knowledge, two commissioners traveled to attend the meeting along with the supervisor of the road department from the North end of the county.



During this run (meeting held in the morning hours) never was it suggested that the reason was to reduce cost? Again, the reason was plain….no citizen participation…no fuss…business as usual. I recall two to three citizens attending and maybe when a land use item came up maybe two more.



We are on a course for the same results with the recent decision to return to morning hour meetings.



The administrator spoke of cost saving measures in his recommendation?



He indicated money would be saved by not using the utilities?



Some employees receive overtime pay?



Finally, it appeared he hinged his opinion on the fact adjoining counties (Bay & Franklin) hold their meeting in the morning hours.



To the first item: Having worked for 12 years in the system (county employee) I can attest that utilities are the LEAST worry of the commission. Never during my period of employment did I observe anyone doing a walk thru after hours to ensure lights, etc., was turned off or was there any protocols in effect to suggest employees ensure conservation of utilities.



To the second item: Employees receive overtime pay. STOP! That is an issue very easily solved. If the person is a union employee….negotiate with the union that after hour attendance of meetings is part of the employment agreement. Staff members…TOUGH!



The only employee that I recall that would be charging overtime is the county attorney (WHAT”S New?) Get a Grip! The attorney will charge the same if the meeting is held “morning, noon or night” and/or if more than two people are breathing.



Third item: Adjoining counties do it so “it must be the thing”? Once again we are being compared to others. Why can’t the sitting commissioners have the “intestinal fortitude” (for lack of other choice words to which we find they are lacking) to say for one time …”it’s what we are directing and the decision is final”? The circumstances indicate the comparison will be the justification needed to calm and shift the uproar…because it’s done elsewhere it’s the thing for us?



Finally, it comes down to a simple question? Are the employees and elected officials of the county there to serve the citizens of our county?



If the answer were to be YES….then what difference does it make when the meetings are held? The recent decision infers the contrary.



When I was employed I was thankful and enjoyed to the opportunity to serve the veterans and those in need of housing assistance through the SHIP program. I never once received overtime staying late to assist someone in need. During a hurricane in 2004….I refused to accept overtime (time and half) for the two days I spent in the operation center.



I felt it was the right thing to do!



The meeting should be scheduled to provide the greatest opportunity to our citizens to express their views. There was a time in our history when we witnessed this type of governing and it failed. This action taken by the commission is WRONG!



Sincerely,



Bo Williams



St. Joe Beach/Beacon Hill