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07.15.06 -- ARTICLE: Wright resigns town council due to personal, political reasons

McINTOSH – Town Council President Danaya Wright resigned Thursday night to a stunned council and passed her gavel to Vice President Joe Phillips.

“I’ve decided to resign tonight,” Wright said. “Not because of the recall petition. It was a very difficult decision because I don’t like to quit when I have made a commitment but I have simply don’t have the time or the energy to devote to the problems that exist in this town.”

Wright’s left office for several reasons. She described the political atmosphere in McIntosh over the last eight years and sa the current council is more transparent and honest than past councils. But she said some unnamed residents have made it impossible to accomplish the goals set out for the council and she was not able to fix problems with U.S. 411, FEMA, the town’s dwindling budget, insurance and new state labor statutes.

“Since I can’t do the job that I was elected to do, I believe it is only right to step down and let someone else do it who has the time,” she said.

Another reason for leaving she said was personal, stating that she and her partner are expecting another child and that her job at the University of Florida has suffered due to the time she’s put into being on McIntosh’s Town Council, as the Chair of the UF Faculty Senate and as a UF trustee.

Wright said that the political situation in McIntosh simply would not allow her to accomplish the job she said voters elected her to do. She said that in the eight years since she’s lived in McIntosh she’s seen a number of actions that were “immoral, unethical and illegal” and that was why the current council was elected.

While she did not lay out who was "immoral, unethical and illegal" in the meeting – stating that everyone knows them already – she did describe a bevy of them she's witnessed. She also spoke to rumors and allegations made against her in recent months.

A petition to recall for Wright and another council member Jim Strange was circulated around McIntosh this last month garnering nearly a hundred signatures of residents. Wright said that the recall was just a method of intimidating council and board members.

Wright said that while she still had the floor, she defended herself against allegations brought against her in the petition.

The first allegation she spoke to was not taping a 6 hour workshop meeting. She said that minutes were prepared and voted on and no one had objected to them.

Later in the meeting, when Joe Phillips brought up articles written in this blog saying that minutes were voted on for that meeting, former council member Charlsie Stott said they were not available in the office the following week. In fact, the first set of minutes made available were one page resembling an agenda did not reflect of the meeting. This reporter did protest the minutes to Wright and asked her to provide another set of minutes of the workshop in the pressence of town clerk Julie Mussleman.

The second allegation was that she called an emergency meeting to purchase a lawn mower for the town at least a year ago. She stated that broken lawn mowers in town required this and that two previous council members Charslie Stott and Howard Walkup did not attend the emergency meeting.

Stott does not agree with Wright on this point and said in a comment in this blog that there was one working lawn mower in town.

The third allegation was that Wright violated the Sunshine law in e-mail communication. She said no one had made a public request for her e-mail or any other council member’s email that she knew of and she could not speak to allegation since she did not know what she was being accused of doing and when she supposedly wrote such e-mails.

Late last fall, reports of e-mail conversations among conversations came to light. [removed because**] Eunice Smith said in a phone interview in March that issues would could up and she would not know what other council members were talking about because Smith does not use e-mail.

[Clarification--editor's note added July 16: E-mail conversations came to light late last fall. This was confirmed by this reporter in a conversation with Eunice Smith in a phone interview and an interview with Mayor Marsha Strange. I am sorry if this was unclear.]

The fourth allegation was that she violated the town’s Land Development Code by appointing the Board of Adjustment to approve site plans. She said she did not see how the council appointing other members to do work that previous councils took on themselves was a violation when the language of the town ordinance said they could appointment an administrator and others to this task.

In February, the town council did meet once as the Board of Adjustment but decided at that meeting it could feasibly not be legal for them to meet as a review board and called the meeting off. They later appointed the Land Planning Agency to act at the Board of Adjustment.

Wright has more than a year left in her term so the current council will have to appoint a new council member. Then between 60 days and 90 days the town will have a special election for a new council member to replace Wright.

The council chose not to replace Wright during the last meeting but to do it at a later date. The council will meet for a budget workshop in about two weeks to begin setting the budget for the next fiscal year.

posted by Cher @ 11:03 AM,

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Editor

Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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The primary purpose of this blog is to accurately reflect what happens in town public meetings and dispel rumors. I record the meetings and make them available for download. One of the goals of this blog is to offer residents a place to voice opinions. The comments, views and opinions expressed there are not necessarily those of the editor.

 
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