McIntosh Mirror: Reflecting news in the Tosh

Want to impact your community? Many of McIntosh's citizen boards have open seats and a council at a loss as to how to fill them.

Light-up McIntosh December 15

Light-up McIntosh will begin at the Civic Center at 6:30 p.m. The event will host Santa Clause and an area choir from six local churches will sing.

07.15.06 -- PUBLIC RECORD: Danaya Wright's Resignation read into record

Public Record: This is the text of Danaya Wright's resignation letter as read into public record.

Danaya Wright’s resignation:

I have an announcement to make. I’m going to read a statement into the record.

I moved to this town eight years ago because I fell in the love with the town and the atmosphere. I was told by colleages that I shouldn’t move here, that McIntosh had a bad reputation. My answer -- it looks like a good place to live. Unfortunately, McIntosh is not a good place to live.

In my eight years, I have seen so many unethical, immoral and illegal actions that I can’t even remember them all. I don’t want to go through them in this forum. You all know them as well as I do. That’s why a new council was elected.

In 2003 and then again in 2005, I thought we had seen the worst of self-serving behavior when this town voted to make a change in the council but I hadn’t. In the last six months, I have seen people threaten and intimidate council members, town employees and citizen board members. I’ve seen people spit on good citizens in this town who have spent countless hours spending time making this town a quiet retreat from the rest of hectic Florida. I have seen people file ethics complaints that they know are unfounded for the sole purpose of harassing the town’s elected representatives. And I have seen them threaten other residents with eviction if they do not vote or sign petitions as they are told. I’ve seen people deliberately lie to their neighbors about what they know to be untrue in order to make a financial gain. Most important, I have seen people in this town listen to rumors and attack the integrity of their neighbors without lifting a finger to seek out information that would disprove the rumors.

In the last six months, only two people have called me and asked me for clarification about matters that were before the council. Yet I have been personally attacked for saying things that I never said and accused of trying to do things on the council that are illegal and contrary to the fundamental principles of the rule of law. Not one person has bothered to seek out the facts or disprove the rumors.

When I ran for council in 2003 I did so because I felt that democracy and transparency were the only ways for this community to prepare to meet the challenges of impending development pressures. I knew that this community would rally together against an outside threat that would jeopardize everything that has been built with so much hard work. I ran because I thought I could make a difference.

I thought that getting citizen input would allow us to move forward toward a mutual vision of the future. I thought that if a variety of residents came together to tackle a challenge we could overcome it. Apparently, I was wrong. I was wrong because I believed that people wanted change. I was wrong because I believed that people wanted to participate in the directions their community was taking not just sit by and criticize others. I was wrong because I believed the people of McIntosh wanted to preserve its character for future generations. Most important, I was wrong because I thought I could make a difference by bringing my values and skills to the table. [Garbled]

I realize that this is a small town and that we don’t have the resources to hire fulltime lawyers, planners and managers. We work on a shoestring budget. The council members are volunteers who have jobs, families and other commitments that make it impossible to do this job on a full time basis. Volunteers staff our citizen boards. They make recommendations and judge on the appropriateness of requests all without pay or thanks. Running a town and keeping it in compliance with state and federal laws, property insured, the streets clean, the water safe and the residents protected is a lot more time consuming than it was 20 years ago or even ten.

This town has never had a council that was more honest, transparent and dedicated to fixing the problems that exist than the one we have today. But apparently, that’s not enough. We have to fight every day to do what is right because a small minority of the residents believe that we might do something that disadvantages them and they set up obstacles and barriers to every effort to fix the problem that the prior council left us.

The current recall petition is just another method to intimidate council and citizen board members.

The current recall petition is simply another effort to intimidate council and citizen board members. But it’s not always the people who are the problem. It’s often the situation. People in this community are upset because life isn’t simple any more. Lawyers, planners, clerks and managers cost more and they are expected to do more but few seem willing to pay more for the sacrifices so that our children can grow up in the same beautiful community that we did.

I’ve decided to resign tonight. Not because of the recall petition. But because I cannot do the job I was elected to do. 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.

I can’t solve the problems on Highway 441, with FEMA, with the budget, with the insurance or with the new state [unknown] labor statutes without the cooperation of this town. 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.

But before I go I want to state on the record that I have not done the things I’ve been accused of doing. The only thing I can be accused of doing is try my hardest to bring this community together, to seek compromised solutions and to keep us out of legal trouble while we work out a collective vision for the town.

But I can’t be effective even at that anymore when I don’t have the resources or the support of the people who want to preserve this town. So while I still have the floor, I am going to answer the four charges that are leveled against me.

The first is that I instructed the clerk not to take a 6 hour workshop. That is correct. Because the meeting was a workshop at which no action could be taken. It seemed absurd to take six or seven hours which would require Julie to spend 20-25 hours transcribing the tapes when written minutes are all that is required by law. I had no desire to hide anything from the public. I merely saw little point in taping six or seven hours of people brainstorming, rehashing ideas raised at the Florida League of Cities conference, catching up on some of the history of the issues that were in front of us. As you all know, minutes were prepared and voted upon by the council with no indication from anyone present that the minutes did not accurately reflect conversations that were had that day.

Second, I’ve been accused of scheduling an emergency meeting when there wasn’t an emergency. The emergency meeting referred to was a meeting which I had the audacity to call a few days after a regularly scheduled council meeting, at which the council agreed we would purchase a new mower because both of the mowers were broken. We were not able to purchase a new one because not all of the bids were entered at the time of the reading. We decided to get the bids and then hold a subsequent meeting to decide which bid to accept. Three members of the council attended that later meeting. All three were contacted by Paul Kelly, our maintenance worker, that without a single functioning mower the grass would be out of control before the next month’s meeting. With the grass unmowed the mosquitoes would be intolerable. Let me add that the council president Charlsie Stott was asked to call a meeting. She refused, that when informed that I had called the meeting, she refused to attend. Neither at that time or any time afterwards has she or councilman Walkup objected that the meeting was improper nor offered any reason why they did not attend. If they have any objection to the business that was conducted at that meeting, they could have attended and voted it down, they chose not to.

Third, I’ve been accused of engaging in communications with other council members in violation of the Sunshine law. No specifics have been given of when this supposedly occurred or on what issues we supposedly have spoken so I really can’t say anything other than the truth which is that every single person on this council in direct contrast to previous councils have never spoken, phoned or e-mailed on any matter that would be before this body. Furthermore, not one person in this community has requested of myself, or any other council member, copies of our McIntosh e-mails which are public records. Nor has any person asked for documentation which would prove or disprove these allegations. Of course, it is difficult to disprove a charge that has no details but I will gladly turn over all my e-mails that I made regarding the town. It’s too bad that no one bothered to ask for the relevant materials before making up untrue allegations.

Finally, I’ve been accused of violating our land development codes by voting for a resolution giving the board of adjustment the function of approving site plans prior to issuing building permits. The relevant language of the town’s LDC states that: “An administrative official designated by the town council shall administer and enforce this ordinance and may be provided with the assistance of such other persons as the town council may direct.” I have a difficult time seeing how a designation of the board to do this function violates the provision when the prior town council administered and enforced the ordinance itself. We do not now have, or have we ever had an administrative official designated by the town council. The prior council, rather than hire an administrative official, simply delegated to itself this function. The current council voted, believing that it was inappropriate for the legislative body in this town to also be the judge, jury and executioner felt that it should delegate to the board of adjustment those duties in compliance with the spirit and the letter of our code. The town council’s always had the power to designate who shall administer the code. Unfortunately, prior councils felt that they should do it all. This council felt that it’s not a good idea to have a tyranny of [cough].

I hereby resign, turn over my gavel to the Vice President Joe Phillips. I hope this town will open its eyes and learn the truth about the baseless allegations leveled against the council and board members. I hope it will regret some of the mean-spiritedness that has characterized the last six months. Threats, insults and intimidation are not the proper basis of democracy. They are the ways of tyranny. I want to sincerely thank those people who have supported me and helped me to bring consensus to this town and I’m not angry with the people who have insulted, slandered and threatened me.

It has allowed me to rethink my own priorities. We’re about to have a new baby. My job has become more challenging since I took on the chairmanship of the faculty senate in May and my own work has suffered from all the time I’ve already devoted to this town. I can not do anything more. I truly hope that we do not lose the momentum and fall back into the old ways. Unfortunately, from where I sit today, our future is very bleak. Since I cannot be effective in brightening its future, I resign.

posted by Cher @ 11:23 AM,


At   July 15, 2006 4:44 PM     ,    Blogger fisherwife    said...

I just read through the copy again, and I have to say that one point that Ms. Wright makes is disconcerting to me. McIntosh is not a bad place to live. She has been dealing with the naysayers and complainers during her term. Most of us just want to live and be left alone. Most of us are at least friendly with each other. It is a minority of people who have soured Ms. Wright's feelings about living in McIntosh.

Ms. Wright has been through trial by fire dealing with certain personalities. I'm not saying she isn't to blame for some issues during her term. However, working on the council is a little like being thrown in the lion's den until you realize that they all have rubber teeth. You couldn't pay me to do it. Ms. Wright volunteered to do it and I appreciate her service to this town.

At   July 17, 2006 12:42 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

I totally agree! The frightening part of this whole thing is that people seem to be divided in a lot of our minds between "good" and "evil". I do not believe this is the case at all. This website, in the long run, should do SO MUCH good to dispel the horrible, inaccurate rumors and mistrust. I could NEVER do what Ms. Wright did for this about exposure to trial by fire! I totally admire anyone willing to take on the administration of this community....but we are NOT their enemies! We're their neighbors, acquaintances, and the people who voted for them. We're not "YOU PEOPLE" as some of the council has referred to us. We are individuals concerned that our town be run fairly. Again, let the "sunshine" in!!!

At   July 17, 2006 9:39 PM     ,    Anonymous Sweetie    said...

Ms. Wright tells the clerk not to tape a meeting at which elected officials are discussing policy? Bingo-Violation One of the Government in the Sunshine Act.
Ms. Wright can'tt wait to answer her accusers in the proper manner set by statute, so she puts her tail between her legs and runs home. Real public servants stand up for what they think is right. Maybe you should give up the Senate at UF, because if you can't take it from your friends and neighbors then you won't be able to take it from other faculty.

At   July 17, 2006 11:25 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

A very important point is this....Ms. Wright would be accused of a crime if she were to be recalled. That could mean the end of the other job she's got, folks. She got out when the handwriting was on the walls.....the vote spelled the end for her.

At   July 18, 2006 12:30 AM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

Sweetie - I attended the February workshop meeting that was not taped. I was the only member of the public aside from Susan Phillips present. I've also studied it all more thoroughly than Joe Phillips gives me credit for and I tend to agree with Danaya in that the alleged violation was not necessarily in not taping the meeting. No law required her to tape the meeting, per se. But to make a record of accurate minutes? Yes. In all fairness, since we're not a court of law in this forum, I think here we can just say we question the circumstances. I know that my question was always why did the minutes not fully reflect what was said in the meeting - by either set of minutes. My question is based on a comparison of MY recording of the meeting and first set of minutes provided in the town office. (I believe other residents also acquired this single page of minutes as they contacted me within days of the meeting asking what actually took place.) Then, I questioned the comparison of the audio to the second set of minutes provided after I expressed concern to Danaya that the first set was not reflective. The council set an 18-month agenda for the town in that workshop making the spirit of the conversations important to McIntosh residents. As far as I am concerned, with Danaya all of this is a moot point now, and maybe she's been through enough? As for the recall, Anonymous, believe it or not, I have never laid eyes on the charges in her's or Jim's recall petitions. I only learned the nature of the all of the charges when Danaya read her letter into the record. (I'd heard of some but not seen them.) I agree with everyone who commented that working on council is a trial by fire. But in all fairness, as for being accused of a crime and any impact of that at UF for Danaya, we're not a court of law or UF admin so that's just not our call to throw out there. I'm sure that Danaya made the decision in whatever her best interest was in all matters. Thanks for your comments, though, and thanks for reading.

At   July 18, 2006 4:52 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

I wasn't saying Danaya committed a crime. If I'm correct, the person recalled has been accused of committing a crime. It's like impeachment.


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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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