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08.18.06 -- REPORT: Council drops sheriff's contract, grapples with code enforcement, site plan approval, residents

Council grapples with fallout surrounding Art Davis' removal from office

By CHER PHILLIPS

The Audio files for this meeting are available in two parts.
Download part 1, (windows media file, 8MB)
Download part 2, (windows media file, 20 MB)


At a second budget hearing followed by an emergency meeting, the McIntosh Town Council decided to discontinue an agreement with the sheriff, bring in an outside company for site plan approval and continue negotiations for sending code enforcement to the county level.

The council ruled they would not continue to pay for a contract with the Marion County Sheriff. This decision will save the community $51,000 per year and should not effect service to the area. The town has increasingly faced a shortfall. Council followed up previous discussions about raising the water rates which are the lowest in Marion County.

Mayor Marsha Strange called the emergency meeting to discuss who would take over site plan approval. When the council passed a motion to remove Art Davis as the code enforcement officer, it remained unclear whether or not Davis would continue to approve site plans for the town.

Sportsman's Cove owner Casey Girardin has been waiting four months for site plan approval. She'd been unable to get Davis to approve or deny plans to bring trailers on to her property. Davis did approve site plans for other residents during his tenure. At a meeting in town attorney Scott Walker's office to discuss this matter, Art Davis lost his temper and treated the town's mayor aggressively. She, in turn, asked the council to remove him from the office of code enforcement officer based on his behavior and read an open letter signed by about 100 town residents.

Council President Joe Phillips continued to support keeping Davis on for site plan approval for the town at $30 an hour. Several residents disagreed based on the reasons he was removed.

Several times during the meeting, arguments broke out between Phillips and members of the audience to the point where Phillips threatened to adjourn the meeting.

Initially, Attorney Sam Mutch was arguing for his client Girardin demanding to know when the town would approve her site plans. He said at the meeting with the town's attorney when Davis was verbally abusive to the Mayor, Walker told Mutch and Girardin her plans were approvable. Walker confirmed this for the council and Phillips in the meeting. Mutch told the council Davis was stalling approval until ordinances could be passed that would keep Girardin from moving in trailers. He said his client wanted to avoid a lawsuit but the town could be held liable for financial damages that an unreasonable delay might cost her.

Phillips said he had no power over approving Girardin's plans and would not answer when plans would be approved. In the process of shutting Mutch down, Phillips called on Land Planning Agency member Joe Shea from the audience who'd raised his hand to speak.

Shea was recently the subject of a resignation letter read at the LPA meeting by Chairman Barbara Fellman who suggested blindly -- describing him without naming him -- that he lacked moral fiber for signing a recall petition. Phillips also asked the council to remove Shea from the LPA because he signed a recall petition.

The confrontation between Phillips and Shea came down to a shouting match. Shea called Phillips a hypocrite for his policy of not allowing discussion about Davis when he was not present while Phillips did discuss Shea when he wasn't present. Shea also demanded Phillips resignation. He did not resign but agreed he was a hypocrite.

Along the lines of hypocritical, Pete Callahan called out Phillips for something town residents have long been complaining of to no avail. While raising his hand to speak and being ignored, Callahan spoke out and Phillips began to call him out of order. Previously during the meeting, resident June Glass just spoke out and Phillips answered her. Glass rarely raises her hand and speaks out when she pleases during council meeting. She is rarely, if never, called out of order while Phillips slams the gavel at other residents who speak out, speak of issues he doesn't agree with or whisper among themselves.

Callahan asked the long-overdue question, "So, June is allowed to speak?"

Phillips said that she was.

Finally, the council moved they would have Capri Engineering to approve site plans, if the firm is willing. In the past, the town has spoke with this company but decided against them because they were based in Tampa and the travel costs were too much.

Other issues from in the meeting:



posted by Cher @ 11:03 AM,

1 Comments:

At   August 18, 2006 5:28 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

its about time someone got the guts to comfront Joe Phillips Cudos to Joe Shea. This guy is going places.

 

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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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