In case you haven’t noticed over the past several months our County Commission has consistently voted to stay ignorant of facts and information which may help them make better decisions, govern more efficiently, spend our money more wisely, keep us better informed, and represent us more effectively.
It began when one Commissioner proposed changes to put discipline into the process of preparing the meeting agendas. The proposal would insure advance notice of topics to be discussed at meetings, thereby better informing the public before resolution. It would lead to more public discussion of complex issues before taking action at a subsequent meeting. It would facilitate better staff work and allow Department Heads to respond to questions and/or advise Commissioners. Four of the Commissioners quickly voted it down. One said he liked acting quickly, one said in effect he preferred flying by the seat of his pants, one said he knew everything and can make decisions on issues on the spot, one said he did not understand super majorities. Oh wow, really, yes look it up 4-1 vote to limit information/knowledge and act hastily!
Next meeting “county wide voting/redistricting” was the topic. The consulting Attorney, we taxpayers pay to advise the BOCC on the issues, informed the Board that a study was needed to determine if minority populations are geographically restricted thereby disadvantaged at the polls. The board voted 3-2 to pursue the information. That’s right two commissioners voted not to find out, stay ignorant! Really, yes, you can look it up!
Next meeting a Commissioner brought up the subject of the County Jail, a 1.2-plus million dollar budget line item. Among the issues; true cost to farm out prisoners to Bay County and possible savings, invite a free courtesy inspection by experts to see how much liability we could be facing despite a million+ dollars paid by taxpayers, can we afford our own jail, are we running it well, maybe we can run an effective program or save enough money to eventually run one well? What happened? You guessed it a 4-1 vote on the spot not to consider the issues or invite experts to look. The STAFF wanted to deny even Commissioners access. Really, yes, a vote to stay ignorant and ill-informed while spending $1,200, 000-plus, you can look it up!
Next meeting a resident asked for information concerning storm water damage despite an expensive project from the past he thought it should have protected his property. Many aspects of this issue were discussed and some information provided that brought the County bid selection process into question and possibly quality of work. Well three of our enlightened Commissioners immediately jumped ship and plead ignorance “not on the Board” when it happened, the fourth said he voted against it. All four plus the new Commissioner agreed something was amiss it should not happen again and must be looked into so the process can be fixed. Then at the next meeting chaos reigned, innocence claimed by several, the information provided by the STAFF was incomplete or inaccurate. Are they ignorant or complicit? No resolution, no real fact finding. Ok, no problem just continue to fact find, get to the bottom of it remember last meeting three of them plead total ignorance (what new). So what happened? You guessed it a 4-1 vote to stay ignorant and stop demanding information from the overworked STAFF paid by us taxpayers. No, really, yes a vote to stay ignorant, we no longer need to find out what happened. Instead embarrass (they hoped) the Commissioner who keeps seeking information and public knowledge. How dare she keep seeking facts, keep trying to inform the public, keep trying to govern effectively, keep asking questions, shut down the nosy woman!
My fellow residents this ignorance/stupidity/or maliciousness must stop. We must not tolerate bad governance as the norm. In addition to their ineptness, what should really anger you is they think you are stupid enough to fall for it. Next election is 2014 get ready. Two of them should be voted out!
Citizen T. Paine
A 20 year resident / Gulf County tax payer who believes you better wise up or it will only get worse.