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.

09.28.06 -- REPORT: Council passes budget, off to bumpy beginnings

McIntosh Town Council passes budget with last-minute hesitation, citizen boards prove on-going agenda item


Download the Audio file for this meeting:
Sept. 28, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting, Budget hearing and Special Call(WMA 20.5 MB) (1 hour, 29 minutes)

McINTOSH -- The McIntosh Town Council passed next year's budget after challenging it in the final draft. The council set the town's taxes at the rollback rate of 1.05, elected a temporary council president and appointed citizen board members.

Council member Lee Deaderick called into question the estimated amount of money the town collects from the Gas tax revenue, $84,446. This money is earmarked for road expenses and the estimated expenditure for street expenses was $63,030. Deaderick made a motion to move other budget items into street expenses. But Town Clerk Julie Musselman showed some frustration by having this kind of change made in the final budget hearing. At one point, she packed up her belongings and said she wanted to leave because she was feeling sick. She also said that changes had never been made at such a late date in the budget approval process in McIntosh.

This year McIntosh tried something it'd never done before by holding budget hearings. The two previous budget hearings, one in July and another in August, gave council members a chance to shape the proposed budget. By tonight's meeting, the town already paid to have the budget noticed in the Ocala Star-Banner.

Both Council President Frank Ciotti and Council member Howard Walkup said the budget would remain in flux and lines could be changed as the year went on. LPA member Charlsie Stott also pointed out, from the audience, that the Gas tax revenue was an estimate. In the July budget hearing, Musselman reported to the council that McIntosh and the surrounding towns got less gas tax money this year than last.

Another point of contention is the water expenses. Musselman said the town's auditors have instructed her to put salaries water and street expenditures. But with a salary included in the water expenditure, the cost of supplying the town with water is $54,077 a year and the town only takes in $24,357. Even with the salary figures removed, McIntosh spends almost $10,000 for water that it doesn't take in. A motion to raise the water rates failed earlier this month which would have brought in about $7,000 more in water revenue.

The council also passed the rollback rate of 1.0540. This means that as the property values increase, the town's taxes will remain nearly the same as last year.

Councilman Howard Walkup was appointed and sworn in. He ran unopposed for the last year of Jim Strange's seat when he resigned. Walkup has been part of McIntosh's political scene for 20 years.

The council made some changes to the citizen boards. John Sapp was changed from the Board of Adjustment to the Land Planning Agency. The LPA will act as the BOA in deciding requests for variances to the Land Development Code.

Board members Barbara Fellman and Dave Polson resigned from the BOA citing that they had an issue with the council telling Renee Wacha she did not have to pay a $7,000 impact fee for a road that the BOA had decided she should. This is not Fellman's first resignation in which she's gone out making accusations regarding ethics. Her LPA resignation targeted one of her fellow board members. (BOA resignation coming soon.)

Cary McCollum, Deaderick's father-in-law, applied for the LPA but his appointment was blocked with a two-two vote. Deaderick did not vote because of a conflict of interest. Jim Walkup, Howard Walkup's brother, was appointed to the LPA in an unanimous vote with Howard Walkup abstaining for conflict of interest. Jim Walkup was an LPA member until he resigned when former council president Joe Phillips said he wanted residents who signed petitions against council members removed from the citizen boards.

Ciotti will serve as the council president until November when the council president is normally elected. Council vice president is now Deaderick.

Removals of appointments from citizen boards was hinted at in a discussion where Town Attorney Scott Walker advised Walkup to take up removing board members at a later meeting when there is less chance for the removals to be argued. The agenda listed "citizen board appointments" and not specifically "citizen board removals." Though Walker said removals were in the scope of the agenda item.

Council members have asked for terms of citizen boards to be spelled out in a resolution which Walker will prepare for the next regularly scheduled council meeting.
Terms of citizen boards

2006 -2007 Initial Budget (to view image in a larger size -- click once and then a second time)

posted by Cher @ 8:50 PM, , links to this post

09.27.06 -- EDITORIAL: Is Cliff stalking you, too?

Is Cliff Stearns stalking you, too?


Earlier tonight at this reporter's house:

Ring. Ring.

ME: "Hello?"

CLIFF: EERIE CRACKLE, THEN SILENCE (First sign that it's HIM. Kinda like that movie "The Ring" and "The Ring, Two." Scary stuff.) "Hello, this is Cliff Stearns. I'm sorry I missed you..."

I pull the phone away from my ear and look at the cradle. Missed me? I'm right here. I hang up. Then, I think I should call my neighbor and tease her, asking if she gave Cliff Stearns my number. See, he called her last night. It's bad enough that Katherine Harris somehow got my e-mail address. Her press releases have this desperate quality to them that I'm drawn to skim in the same way that I can't look away from a car crash.

So, I pick up the phone to make that call. And Cliff is still there, talking away.
I hang up again.
No good. He's STILL there. I push the disconnect button, twice more.
No giving up for Cliff. That boy just keeps talking -- even his recordings. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll have to yank my phone out of the wall and use my cell phone when Cliff finally hangs up so I can punch in my neighbor's phone number.

Ring. Ring.

HER: I hear her pick up but she says nothing. Silence.

ME: After a minute, "Heeeellooooo."

HER: "Whew. I thought you were Cliff Stearns. He's called here every night this week."

True story.
I surfed his web site. I googled the guy. No where could I find a direct, simple way to e-mail the guy to leave me be. I finally had to put my number on the DO NOT CALL REGISTRY.

Tell me McIntosh, is Cliff Stearns stalking you, too? And how did you get rid of him? Inquiring minds want to know. Shoot. I want to know. Because even with the registry, he's got 30 days before he HAS to follow the no-call law. Let's have a contest. Whoever has the most Cliff calls wins a Get-out-of-Code-Enforcement-jail-free card!

Don't forget McIntosh Town Council has a budget hearing Thursday night at 6 p.m., followed by a meeting in which they're going to discuss the citizen boards, a guaranteed barn burner.

posted by Cher @ 8:43 PM, , links to this post

09.26.06 -- POLL: Next Council President

The Town Council will nominate and vote on the next council president this Thursday. What do you think?


posted by Cher @ 9:55 PM, , links to this post

09.21.06 -- REPORT: Clearing codes, battling bias

Clearing codes, battling bias, Part 1
Code enforcement meeting breaks down, board members refuse recusal

Part 1 of 3 articles on the lastest meeting of McIntosh's Code Enforcement Board


Pedro Molinas is like most McIntosh residents, he just wants all of it to be over. He wants to get back to his life.

But Molinas has to clear a board he’s been grappling with for longer than a year. In January, the town took him to court and began charging him $250 per day because he built a carport on the town’s right-of-way.

Back when he was building, he had permits – records from the Marion County Courts shows. But those permits weren’t correct. He didn’t build where he was supposed to. He built on the edge of a road that will never be a through-road. But that doesn’t matter.

McIntosh, under a new council last fall, empowered a code enforcement board, along other citizen boards. By God, things were going to be done right. Codes would be followed. A code enforcement officer would be hired and allowed to be proactive.

And to that end, Molinas ended up with a lien on his house. He's facing fines after tearing down his building and spending most of his savings – though he won’t say how much.

But the grand plans of the new council sworn in last November have crumbled. The CRA is a vague memory. The council has changed faces with three members resigning after two recall petitions were circulated around town. The town’s people are tired of rumor and drama and meetings characterized with officials yelling at residents and ugliness.

So when a meeting of the McIntosh Code Enforcement board broke down into arguments, accusations and what only could be called ugliness Wednesday evening, it was a harsh reminder that the unrest from the past year isn’t finished. The residents brought before the board did not roll over and hand over their property and their wallets. They hired an attorney to fight. Amid the yelling and arguments, it should come to no surprise, nothing was accomplished, and attorneys’ fees mounted. The three matters before board were postponed, undecided and unheard.

In many ways, McIntosh – the town – needs the same thing as Molinas: they need to clear the code enforcement board.

Read more about McIntosh’s Code Enforcement board in Part 2: Pedro’s Elephant

posted by Cher @ 9:52 PM, , links to this post

09.21.06 -- REPORT: Clearing codes, battling bias, Part 2 - Pedro's Elephant

Clearing codes, battling bias: Pedro's elephant

Part 2 of 3 articles about Mcintosh's latest Code Enforcement Board meeting


The quasi-judicial style code enforcement meeting began mired in confusion. It shouldn't be a shock that it remained that way, ending with one board member walking out but only after stonewalling the opposition.

Public notices said the meeting started at 6 p.m. Attorney notices sent to residents who had business before the board said the meeting would begin at 6:30 p.m. -- though some claimed they were never noticed. It wasn't the first time meetings that determine fines and have the potential to affect property rights have been changed at the last minute without notice. No agenda was made available to the public for this meeting.

During the 30 minutes the board, the lawyers and the audience waited for the meeting to start, Chairman Harris Fellman spelled out rules for audience interaction in the meeting. At one point, Attorney Sam Mutch, who represented three clients facing the code enforcement board this month, said to one of his clients that the procedures explained by Harris weren’t normally how meetings were handled. To that comment, he was called out by board member Bill Glass, who said Munch needed to come up to the front of the room and repeat his comment where Glass could hear him.

What had to be established Wednesday night was whether Molinas had torn down the building completely or not. By tearing it town, he would free his house from the lien the town has against him.

Molinas building was on the town’s right-of-way. The code enforcement board took him to court and at one point last January, his fines were mounting at $250 per day. According to the board member’s comments Wednesday, though he will be released from the lien, the board will decide what fees and fines to charge him. Attorney Scott Walker, who acts as the town attorney was prosecuting the case for the town, said his fees to date were $1,882.80 in the Molinas case.

Both current and former code enforcement officers testified for the town that Molinas had not yet removed all the metal from the concrete pad. Some of the metal structure still remained bolted down to the concrete.

The current officer, Phil Howell, answered tedious questions from Mutch during cross-examination on the remainder of Molinas' building. But it was former code enforcement officer Art Davis who lost his temper during this process.

As a witness for the town, Davis was then coached through the process by the code enforcement board’s attorney Eric Gifford. It is unknown why Davis was not coached by the town’s attorney, Walker, who was acting as the prosecutor. Davis was a witness for the prosecution. Gifford is the code enforcement board attorney and paid by the town to assist the code enforcement board. One of the board's roles is to hear residents cases fairly.

During the defense of his case, Molinas’s lawyer Sam Mutch asked him how much it cost him to remove the building.

Molinas refused to give a number saying he didn’t want to get into the cost.

“I’ve spent quite a bit of my savings,” Molinas said. “I want to get on with my life.”

Before the meeting began, Fellman sent around a sign-in sheet to residents in attendance. He also said if any person wanted to address the board, they would have to sign a card before the hearing with their name, address and make known before speaking which side of the issue they wanted to speak on. As it turned out during in the meeting, residents had to be sworn in to address the board.

Resident Linda Elwood was sworn-in but did not state whether she was testifying for or against Molinas. While the board members are supposed to hear the information that comes before the board during these cases objectively, without bias, and make decisions about McIntosh’s residents’ property rights, it appeared from comments made that both Glass and Fellman knew what Elwood had to say before she said it.

At one point during the hearing of Molinas case, Glass told Elwood, “Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance.”

Fellman, also, indicated he knew what she had to say when he said there was a neighbor who wanted to speak on the matter.

“Pedro has not spoken to me since I filed the complaint…,” Elwood said as she began her testimony.

Mutch protested that her comments were not relevant.

She said that she thought the lien should be lifted against Molinas but said the metal remnants of his building could be dangerous if a child or adult fell on them and that they needed to be removed.

She, Fellman and Glass indicated there were other items in Molinas' yard that concerned them. Molinas said he left the garage door that had been part of his building sitting on the slab to protect it until he can finalize its sale. He offered several times to put a tarp over the items.

But a tarp did not seem to be what Glass, and other residents watching in the audience, were looking to hear. Glass went as far as to ask about when items other than the garage door would be cleared away.

Mutch argued that these items, which had been inside his building before he had to tear it down, were not the issue.

At one point, Glass joked that they were going to this monkey off Molinas back.

“Monkey? Elephant,” Molinas said.

Mutch’s representation was a source of argument for board members Glass and Fellman.

Molinas’ second language is English. After his case, he shook hands with his judges, jury and prosecutor. But before the meeting began, he didn’t seem to understand the process. When he was called, he didn’t understand he needed to step forward. Audience member Charlsie Stott told him when to go up to take the stand, saying, “Pedro, it’s your time.”

Mutch contended that this was one reason why he needed to speak for his client. When he told the board he was representing Molinas, Glass said, “Well, that’s bad.”

Mutch asked then, for the first time during the meeting, that Glass recuse himself – meaning he should step down from that portion of the meeting due to prejudice or personal involvement – because he had a personal bias against the attorney.

Glass refused and Fellman, as chairman, wouldn’t make him stating the board would not have quorum if one of them stepped down.

Only three board members were present. A third board member, Jim Winters, said very little during the proceedings. He did concur with Glass and Fellman that the slab was not completely clear and would like to see Molinas clear the slab and come back. Since the meeting fell on Wednesday, a church night, other board members were absent.

During Mutch’s opening statements of Molinas’ defense, Glass got up from the table, without comment or apology, and began rearranging the chairs near his seat at the table.

Both Glass and Fellman seemed to have a problem with the attorneys in the room.

At one point Fellman said, “None of us are trained attorneys, the attorneys either.”

The comment met a strained silence with the two attorneys the town of McIntosh was paying to attend the meeting and Mutch, who was representing three separate code enforcement board cases.

Over and over again, Glass brushed aside any legitimacy in arguments made by Mutch. Fellman, as chair, made similar comments as Mutch defended his clients.

“We know that someone’s trying to goad us,” Fellman said. He repeated the comment later in the meeting.

Glass swore twice during the meeting. The first time, Mutch protested. The second time Glass swore, “Jesus Christ,” Mutch protested.

“It was a prayer,” Glass said.

Molinas’ case will be continued to Sept. 27 – a Wednesday – after he’s been given a chance to remove the rest of the metal attached to the concrete slab. His fees and fines will be determined then.

“I don’t know why he built this thing,” Glass said as Molinas’ case came to a close. “But I bet he won’t do it again.”

Read about another case before the McIntosh Code Enforcement board in Part 3: The Great Wall of McIntosh

posted by Cher @ 9:52 PM, , links to this post

09.21.06 -- REPORT: Clearing codes, battling bias, Part 3 - Great wall of McIntosh

Great Wall of McIntosh

Part 3 of 3 articles about McIntosh's latest Code Enforcement Board meeting


The Smith-Henderson’s, the couple who built the wall on U.S. 441, did not show up for their hearing Wednesday but sent their attorney, Mutch, instead. The board members initially balked at this move. Glass said he was going to excuse himself because he felt the property owners should be present at the hearing.

“I don’t desire to go forward when the property owners aren’t here,” Glass said. “I think it should be postponed or continued 30 days from now but not without the owners being here.”

Mutch said the Smith-Hendersons would not be back until December but that he was authorized to argue the case for them. Fellman said he didn’t see a problem with their absence and was ready to move forward.

“I think that when we’re dealing with property rights – the most sacred thing in this nation – that the owners should be present,” Glass said. He also questioned whether Mutch was authorized or not to represent the couple asking to see a signed contract employing Mutch to speak for him.

Fellman again said the proceeding would go forward without the property owners present.

“I won’t sit in on this without that,” Glass said. “I can’t in all good conscious sit in on this, I’ll excuse myself.”

But Glass soon changed his mind.

Mutch said he had intended to ask for a recusal from both Glass and Fellman because the Smith-Hendersons had made formal complaints against both men’s property for code violations.

When Glass heard this, he sat down.

“Well, I have to stay now,” Glass said.

“Then we can proceed with the hearing,” Fellman said.
At this point, the rest of the meeting consisted of a power struggle between Mutch and the two board members insisting that Fellman and Glass step down due to conflict of interest.

Mutch said the Smith-Hendersons did not feel that they could receive fair treatment after making complaints against the Fellmans and the Glasses.

“I didn’t even look at that until just now,” Fellman said. “Are we here to beat each other to death or we here to get your client a fair hearing? You seem to be goading us – continually…”

“Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman…,” Glass interrupted.

“I’m not done yet, Bill,” Fellman said. “All we’re trying to do is give your client a fair hearing. But you have, sir, an attitude problem as far as I’m concerned but that does not mean I can even give you a fair hearing.”

“I doubt that, sir,” Mutch said.

“Well, that’s your opinion. In my opinion, I know what is in my heart and in my fai… head,” Fellman said.

Mutch asked why Fellman was raising his voice at him.

“Because you, sir, can make anyone raise their voice,” Fellman said.

Glass interrupted and said, “I thought we weren’t going to do this.”

“Bill,” Fellman said and slammed down a plastic mallet which served as a gavel, “Let me finish, please.”

Fellman turned back to Mutch.

“Because you, sir, are sticking sticks in people’s eyes,” Fellman said. “If you would sit back comfortably and let us get on with this, I can assure that despite my personal feelings about you – whatever you believe they are, I can give you a fair hearing.”

Mutch quoted case law and said if there was a request by a client to a judge to recuse himself and that judge responded as Fellman had that night, the recusal was automatic. Mutch went on to remind the board members they were trained as lay people and not as professional judges.

“If the Supreme Court says they [judges] can’t put away that type of prejudice, then how can you go forward tonight with what you have said and how you’ve raised your voice,” Mutch said.

Mutch told him the case law is clear that once a request for recusal is made and the court makes a comment, then the judge is automatically disqualified.

Glass said that the argument was pointless.

“If you read our ordinances, code enforcement does not make those disclaimers about personality differences,” Glass said.

He went on to explain what he thought the scope of the powers of the code enforcement board were, as he saw it, and why he thought the arguement with Mutch about bias had no purpose.

“Since we do have home rule and since basically anything that two of us agree to is legal,” Glass said. “Whether it’s defensible or not is his issue at another court of law."

Glass said that Mutch had had "ample opportunity to get an issuing judge to review any decisions that we made.”

“On that alone," Glass said, "this psychobabble isn’t doing us much good and if you want to, I will make a motion that this be postponed to December the 25th.”

Fellman started to remind him that Dec. 25 was Christmas Day but Glass interrupted him and said, “That’s exactly why I made that motion.”

He then amended the motion to Dec. 1.

A stalement came down between Mutch and Glass and Fellman. The board members wanted Mutch to put the issue off until December. Mutch wanted them to step down and not judge his clients because they’d been accused of code violations by the clients and he said they were biased against him. Mutch reiterated that there had been complaints made about both the Fellmans' and the Glasses' properties.

“I will not recuse myself based on this,” Fellman said after reading documents containing the motion.

Mutch countered Fellman's reasoning, explaining he thought the board members' bias was broader than the complaints.

“What I’m saying is that you have a problem, not so much with my clients but supposedly with me, and when that happens in court, there’s an assignment of other judges,” Mutch said.

“The only problem I have with you is that you seem to want to delay this hearing and we just want to get on and give you a proper and fair hearing,” Fellman said. Fellman did not mention that Glass also wanted to postpone the hearing.

"My clients told me because of the manner in which you and Mr. Glass have worked in the past, in your attempts to do whatever within the city," Mutch said. "You can not without prejudice hear their case tonight.”

Mutch asked that they postpone the hearing until two other code enforcement members would be present to replace Fellman and Glass.

While Fellman denied even knowing the Henderson-Smiths outside their complaints about the former code enforcement officer, Glass said he refused to recuse himself.

“This is a trumped-up charge,” Fellman said of the motion and the code complaints.

Mutch countered with, “Are code enforcement complaints ‘trumped-up’?”

Gifford said the board needed to make a motion about the recusal.

Glass, having taken the documents containing the motion to read, then threw them over the table to the floor in front of the board.

Mutch asked that Glass' throwing the documents on the floor be entered into the record.

“I couldn’t wipe my butt with it, that’s why I did it,” Glass said.

Arguments then broke out among Glass and Fellman and Mutch and Gifford leading Mutch to call for voire dire – which means that he can cross examine the court about matters of bias to determine prejudice.

Fellman allowed Mutch the time to cross-examine Glass. But the attorney had trouble getting a complete sentence out without Glass immediately replying “No, no, not at all, no” over his questions.

“You do have a problem with me, even hearing me ask you questions tonight,” Mutch said. “You seem to be upset…”

Glass interrupted him. “Only because you seem to be having a misinterpretation of have-you-had-your-Prozac or whatever it is your problem is,” Glass said.

Mutch insisted Glass recuse himself and still, Fellman refused to recuse himself or Glass.

Finally, Mutch agreed to postpone the hearing to a date to be determined.

"I intend to stick on this as chairman,” Fellman said.

When the next case was called – the Oliver case – Glass and Fellman started to argue between themselves and Glass walked out, ending the meeting.

Prolouge: This meeting sets the stage for next week's Sept. 27 meeting in which Pedro Molinas will come back before the board. Casey Girardin, owner of Sportsman's Cove, is also scheduled for that meeting. Girardin not only hired Mutch as her attorney, she filed code complaints - as the Smith-Henderson's have - against the Glasses and the Fellmans. To complicate matters, Girardin circulated recall petitions this summer against two former council members, as well as an open letter against the former code enforcement officer.

posted by Cher @ 9:52 PM, , links to this post

09.20.06 -- EDITORIAL/PUBLIC RECORDS: Code Enforcement meeting

EDITORIAL: Code enforcement board meeting breaks down in argument, raises questions concerning Sunshine Law


Some McIntosh meetings just need to be heard.

Tonight's meeting was one of them. Before I write about this -- and I fully intend to write about this -- I want to offer these recordings to McIntosh residents.

First, I have to say something tonight about the nature of public meetings. I don't think I would be able to sleep until I do.

Code enforcement board meetings are held in quasi-judicial format, which is a format that follows all the same freedom of access rules as the rest of Florida's public meetings. I looked it up in the 2006 Sunshine Manual during the meeting.

For this reason, I was surprised when Barbara Fellman, wife of Code Enforcement Board Chairman Harris Fellman, passed around a clipboard asking people to sign in to attend the meeting. I declined to sign, as did some others. Nowhere to my knowledge of the Sunshine Law are residents required to sign in to attend an open meeting. I noticed that missing signatures were noticed by others in the room. When Linda Elwood came in, she said something to Harris Fellman and he asked her to sign in. I couldn't hear her question back to him but from my seat in the audience his reply was, "Just sign it."

I have seen other public boards make mention of who was present at a meeting in their minutes but I have never had my name taken as if I were signing an attendance sheet in a freshman political science class.

I don't know Harris Fellman's intended purpose in forcing people to sign in but the unintended result has a connotation of intimidation. It's the same thing as someone threatening people against signing a petition, or hassling them because they did sign one. It's flagrantly anti-First Amendment.

The action says, "Oh, sure, this meeting is public but we have your names and your addresses."

To further complicate the matter, anyone who wanted to address the board or speak on a matter had to fill out a card beforehand with his or her name, address and whether he or she was for or against an issue. While boards have the rights and the responsibilities of setting rules about public input in public meetings, this crosses a line.

But it doesn't stop on the line. Oh, no. Not in McIntosh. This board took it a step further. Anyone who wanted to address the code enforcement board on an issue they were hearing had to be officially sworn in as if they were testifying in a court of law.

And that, folks, is the tip of the ice burg.

Make sure you don't miss part two where Bill Glass said he threw documents on the floor because he "couldn't wipe his butt with them." This was during an ongoing argument with Mutch in which Fellman stood by Glass demanding that the two of them, in that mood, would give a fair trial to McIntosh residents. And yes, this was an actual trial.

The following are recordings. I encourage you to download them and listen for yourself.

Part 1: (Windows media player, 14 mb, 1 hour in duration)

Hearing of Pedro Molinas -- represented by Attorney Sam Mutch -- to decide if he's complied by tearing down the shed that was on the town's right-of-way.

Part 2: (Windows media player, 7 mb, 28 minutes in duration)

Henderson-Smith -- hearing for code violations. (Great-Wall-of-McIntosh couple) Represented by Sam Mutch, his clients were absent. The meeting broke completely down when Mutch asked Glass and Fellman to recuse themselves because two of his clients had filed code violations against them and a conflict of interest existed. Both board members refused.

Oliver case -- Glass, who'd been repeatedly asked to recuse himself, walked out of the meeting ending it because they no longer had quorum. He and Fellman were arguing over a point and Glass ended it by walking out.

On the topic of lawyer's fees and court costs: the work of the code enforcement board requires not only one attorney, but two. Scott Walker acts as prosecutor against town residents and Eric Gifford works for the board, advising the board on the hearings. There is simply NO way any resident can get a fair trial here when it is in the interest of the town to recoup lawyer's fees. Residents have two choices in front of this board, as it stood tonight, be railroaded or appeal in a real court of law.

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posted by Cher @ 9:05 PM, , links to this post

09.19.06 --- POLL: Water rate poll, Take 2

Water Rate poll, Take 2: What do you think?

Up next: There will be a code enforcement meeting Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. A detailed agenda unavailable.

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posted by Cher @ 10:28 PM, , links to this post

09.14.06 --- REPORT: Council stomps down water rate hike in game of budgetary hopscotch

Council kills water rate hike, rolls back taxes
McIntosh will continue to have Marion County's cheapest water


Click HERE to download a windows media audio file of this meeting. (41.2 MB)

McINTOSH -- The McIntosh Town Council voted to cut the two major revenue generating avenues at their disposal and in the same meeting Thursday night approved an additional expenditure of $8,000.

After facing a shortfall for the second year in a row, council members have been trying to prepare residents during previous months for a water rate hike, as well as ending the tradition of rolling back the millage rate each year.

But as three council members resigned, the new council changed course. The motion to raise the water rates from $6 to $9 per month, with the gallonage rate remaining the same, failed with the 4-member council deadlocked in a tie. Frank Ciotti, serving as council president, and newly sworn in Council Member Eva Jo Callahan voted for raising the water rates. Council Members Eunice Smith and Lee Deaderick voted against the increase.

Town Clerk Julie Musselman said the increase would bring in about $7,000-$8,000 more revenue. McIntosh has the lowest rates in Marion County and Musselman said the water service officials recently told her the town has the county's best quality water, as well.

The council added the millage rate to the agenda and tentatively approved -- meaning this will go through at least another reading -- a roll back on the millage rate to 1.09 from this year's rate of 1.2611. This means that McIntosh's property tax dollar amount would stay the same, regardless of inflation and increases in property values.

While residents' bills will remain the same, as they have for years, the disadvantage of this practice is that a town the size of McIntosh has very few ways of making money. In the past month, the town council decided to let the sheriff's contract go in an attempt to loosen up more money into the budget. While that gave the council about $46,000-worth of wiggle room, that wiggle room gets tighter and tighter as any remaining shortfall will come off the top.

To compound that, the council approved spending $8,000 on a service to codify McIntosh's laws. Several council members, audience members and the town's attorney agreed was worthwhile because it would consolidate the town's codes into one logical document, which would also be checked for its legality in the process.

The fight with the budget continues to be a two-steps-forward-one-step-back process. The council approved a new auditor for the next two years which will save the town about $3,000. Ciotti also made note of another mounting expense: legal fees. For instance, when former Council Member Jim Strange sued Casey Girardin, as the petition committee recalling him, he also sued the town clerk which will cost the town an estimated $1,600 - $1,700. Throughout his council term, Strange was a vocal opponent against the town's trends toward lawsuits and the mounting legal fees involved.

Two new council members were sworn in -- Eva Jo Callahan, who replaces resigned council member Joe Phillips, and Lee Deaderick, who will serve the remainder of resigned council member Danaya Wright's term. The qualifying period to replace Jim Strange will end Friday at noon. To date, one applicant -- Howard Walkup, a former council member -- has applied to serve. If no other McIntosh resident applies before noon Friday, Walkup will be appointed to the council without an election on Nov. 7. Deaderick asked Walkup at the end of the meeting if he would be willing to serve for one or two meetings until an election and Walkup said he did not think this would be appropriate.

In other news:

posted by Cher @ 10:42 PM, , links to this post

09.15.06 -- LETTER: Fred's airboat

Letter to the Editor:

Fred Del Russo sends this picture of what he got back of his airboat. His boat was stolen from his home in the historic district two weeks ago and recovered after a week of searching the area. He asked that it be posted in the blog.
Photo by Fred Del Russo

posted by Cher @ 9:48 AM, , links to this post

09.10.06 --- EDITORIAL: Crossing my fingers for an election

Crossing my fingers for an election
Qualifying period for council seat begins Monday


McINTOSH -- We're up against another qualifying period next week for anyone wanting to run for McIntosh town council to fill Jim Strange's vacant seat. The period begins at noon Sept. 11 and runs though noon Sept. 15.

I was thinking that wouldn't it be a very cool thing if we had an election this time around? That's a hard thing to ask, I know, in a town where we barely got one volunteer to run for each of the last two seats. But after two seats have been appointed to candidates who've run unopposed, it sure would be nice to see some democracy in action.

In fact, before the Primary election, I was a little worried about McIntosh. OK -- I am always a little worried about McIntosh. But I was worried about the way we've choosen our leaders -- not to slight either Lee or Eva Jo. I've been wondering if maybe democracy isn't being served as the revolving door of the town council ushers in new council members who step up one by one to take seats that no one else wants.

But then I looked at the numbers in the archive of the Supervisor of Elections website.

In the 2004 Primary election, 144 people voted in precinct 60 -- McIntosh. This year, the Primary pulled in 378 votes from this precinct. That increase is huge people. HUGE. Think about it: The last election for a council member in 2005 pulled 290 voters, and that was a close race.

I can't explain why the numbers are up. Maybe y'all have a secret hankering to see Charlie Crist in the Governor's mansion. But I look at those numbers and I think -- man, I would like to see the people of McIntosh elect the next council member. For everything that everyone has said about this town being torn apart this year, those numbers say something completely different.

Those numbers say these people are on the same page, they care about and want a voice in their government. They want to choose their leaders.

Last week, Julie had some tentative numbers in the office for the town totals, she said they thought 341 McIntosh residents voted last Tuesday. We only have 361 registered voters in town.

It's time we had an election, folks. I know in the far corners of town, people are racking their brains to come up with someone who run for the rest of Strange's term.

If you even think you might want to serve, this is the time to step up. Win or lose, you would be doing the town a service because you would be giving the people of McIntosh a choice.

posted by Cher @ 9:04 PM, , links to this post

09.06.06 -- SPECIAL REPORT: Council Member Jim Strange resigns, new council member to swear in Sept. 14

Council Member Jim Strange Resigns, Eva Jo Callahan replaces Joe Phillips


McINTOSH -- Council Member Jim Strange e-mailed his resignation today ending after several months of fighting a recall petition for an election that could have removed him from office.

A public record request was made by this reporter for the full e-mail.

Town Clerk Julie Musselman said she asked Attorney Scott Walker to confirm that an e-mailed resignation is valid before she will comment on whether or not Strange has officially resigned, or intends to resign.

But Strange is reported to have made an earlier announcement at the McIntosh Baptist Church Sunday saying he intended to resign this week and that he felt "vindicated," said one source.

Musselman could confirm Strange's e-mail was brief and in part, he said he hoped his resignation "would bring closure to those who have sought it."

Strange's resignation comes after a recall battle.

Sportsman's Cove owner Casey Girardin gathered more than 100 signatures on a recall petition this summer. After the recall petition was circulated twice through town, Strange sued Girardin, Musselman as the McIntosh Town Clerk and Dee Brown as the Supervisor of Elections. Strange said he sued, in part, to clear his name. The judge determined last week that if the petition were to go forward, Girardin would need to rewrite one of the charges against Strange and recirculate the petition and return to court.

She and other petition committee members began circulating a new petition last weekend restricting the charge to one that he violated Florida's Sunshine Law in a February workshop meeting where he asked other council members to not talk about issues discussed outside the meeting.

Strange is the third council member to resign since July. Danaya Wright resigned in July and Joe Phillips resigned in August.

Council Member Lee Deaderick replace Wright when he ran unopposed in August. The qualifying time for Phillips' seat passed last week. Eva Jo Callahan was the only applicant to file to qualify to fill former council member Joe Phillips' seat. Since she is, in essence, running unopposed, she will be sworn in Sept. 14.

posted by Cher @ 4:23 PM, , links to this post

09.03.06 -- REPORT -- Resident reports airboat stolen from home in historical district

Resident reports airboat stolen from home in historical district


McINTOSH -- An airboat was stolen from a McIntosh residence Saturday night.

Fred DelRusso, of McIntosh, reported to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department Sunday that his 1996 six cylinder airboat with an aircraft motor is missing.

DelRusso said he has no idea what happened to it and fears the boat is hidden somewhere or has been stripped.

“The cops are looking everywhere,” DelRusso said. “But you and I know they [whoever took it] would not just go ride in it.”

DelRusso said the boat was stolen Saturday between noon and Sunday morning from his home on the corner of Avenue H and 5th Street. The airboat, on a trailer, was parked on 5th Street.

He said he recently purchased the boat in the last two weeks. Airboats range in price from $6,000 - $11,000 depending on the size, style and type of motor.

DelRusso would like McIntosh residents to be aware his boat has been stolen so they can take precautions with their own property.

Whomever stole the boat had to hook up the hitch to a vehicle large enough to tow the boat's trailer and drive it through the small town. McIntosh is a small, tight-knit community in which very little goes unnoticed.

DelRusso would also appreciate hearing from anyone with information about his boat who might have seen something Saturday night.

He can be reached at 352-591-4835.

posted by Cher @ 10:13 PM, , links to this post

McIntosh Mirror Archives

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006


posted by Cher @ 11:55 PM, , links to this post

Digital Audio Files of meetings

Listen to McIntosh public meetings:

(UNDER REDESIGN: Most of the council meetings have been converted to MP3s and loaded with a flash player below. I am still working on the citizen board files. If a file is not working correctly, or if you are seeking a file and can't find it here, let me know, and I will try to help you out at

Below are links to digital audio recording of McIntosh Public meetings. You may need to click the start arrow twice if you are using Internet Explorer.

McIntosh Town Council Meetings 2006:

Feb. 9, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

Feb. 13, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting -- Acting as the Board of Adjustment

Feb. 15, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting (Continuation of the Feb. 9, 2006 meeting)

March 9, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

May 11, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

June 8, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

July 13, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

July 24, 2006 -- Budget Hearing McIntosh Town Council

Aug. 10, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

Aug. 17, 2006 Part 1 -- Town Council Budget Hearing/Emergency Meeting

Aug. 17, 2006 Part 2 -- Town Council Budget Hearing/Emergency Meeting

Aug. 24, 2006 -- Special Town Council Meeting - FILE TO BE ADDED

Sept. 14, 2006 -- Town Council Meeting

Sept. 28, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting, Budget hearing and Special Call

Oct. 12, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting

Oct. 17, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting

Oct. 24, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting pt.1, special, Town clerk interviews

Oct. 24, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting pt.2, special, Town clerk interviews

Oct. 30, 2006 -- McIntosh Town Council Meeting, special, Town Clerk Interviews

November 9, 2006 -- Town Council meeting

December 14, 2006 Town Council meeting

McIntosh Town Council Meetings 2007

McIntosh Town Council meeting, Jan. 11, 2007:

McIntosh Town Council meeting, Feb. 8, 2007:

McIntosh Town Council meeting continuance, Feb. 12, 2007:

Mar. 8, 2007 Town Council Meeting

Feb. 21, 2006 -- Historic Preservation Board Meeting

Feb. 8, 2006 -- Historic Preservation Board Meeting

Feb. 6, 2006 -- School Board Meeting

Feb. 13, 2006 Town Council acting as Board of Adjustment

Code Enforcement Board Meetings:

Land Planning Agency Meetings:

Cher Phillips at to retrieve from archives.

posted by Cher @ 11:51 PM,

Public Records

You may need to download a PDF viewer to open or print these documents.

Governing documents:

McIntosh Town Charter (PDF 51 Kb)

The McIntosh Town Charter is a document that spells out the shape of the town's government, as well as the rules the council follows and guidelines for who can vote, when public meetings can happen.

McIntosh Land Development Code 144 pages (PDF 6.5 Mb)

The Land Development Code is a book of McIntosh codes that was created by an ordinance. It's authority is based in the Town Charter and state statutes. This document contains permitted uses, the old historic ordinance, code enforcement, zoning and development standards.

Proposed Ordinances:

Proposed Tree Ordinance (PDF 340 Kb)

The proposed tree ordinance has been under revision since last spring. The current version was presented to the council Feb. 8, 2007.

Proportionate Share (PDF 1 Mb)

The proportionate share ordinance is currently up for adoption. The ordinance changes portions of the Land Development Code dealing with develop, allowing clauses throughout the code for potential developers to ask the town of McIntosh to help foot the bill to bring roads up to acceptable levels to account for growth.

As explained to the LPA by planner Bruce Day, the proportionate share is state-mandated but other communities -- as well as the Marion County Commissioners -- have rejected proportionate share proposals. Day said there was a clause in the ordinance that would allow future councils to opt out of paying the town's share, if it were asked.

Town Council Minutes:

October - December 2004 (PDF 645 kb)

January - April 2005 (PDF 1 mb)

May - July 2005 (PDF 713 kb)

August - September 2005 (PDF 579 kb)

October - December 2005 (PDF 1.4 mb)

January 2006 (PDF 269 kb)

Monthly council meetings after January 2006 can be found in the audio archive.

posted by Cher @ 2:11 PM, , links to this post

McIntosh Citizen Boards and School Board

(I'm in the process of collecting this information. Details as they come in.)

McIntosh Citizen Boards

Board of Adjustment (BOA):

The Land Planning Agency's board acts as the Board of Adjustment. The board has two roles, administrative review and deeming special exceptions. Adminstrative review means the board hears and decides appeals where there may be an alleged error made by an administrative official. They also have the role of granting special exceptions to the codes.


The BOA meets when necessary. Meeting agendas will be posted at the Town Hall and meetings will be held in the Civic Center.

Code Enforcement Board:

The Code Enforcement Board


When: First Thursday of the month

Historic Preservation Board:

The Historic Preservation Board makes determinations about certificates of appropriateness for McIntosh's Historic District.


June Glass
Tammy Flagg

When: Meetings are posted at the town office.

Land Planning Agency (LPA):

"I think the LPA is important because it deals with other people's property and how our town will be in the future." - Charlsie Stott



Tree Committee:

Role: Handles permits for cutting and trimming protected trees
"The purpose of the Tree committee is to preserve the natural beauty of McIntosh by making sure we have a well established and nurtured Tree Canopy that provides an abundance of shade and memories for years to come. Any one that has lived here or has just passed through has one lasting memory and that is how beautiful the trees are here, that’s what our committee is preserving." - Sean Dowie


Charter school board

McIntosh Charter School Board:

posted by Cher @ 10:39 AM, , links to this post

McIntosh Town Council and Mayor

McIntosh Town Council


Marsha Strange

Strange has been mayor of McIntosh off and on for about 25 years. She lives on the west side of McIntosh and before she retired, she was a school teacher. Though the town has a weak mayoral system, Strange has been known to call out the council.

Board members

Eva Jo Callahan

Callahan lives on the west side of McIntosh. She recently retired from the Department of Health. She joined the council after running unopposed in September, replacing and finishing former Council President Joe Phillips' term. Callahan is known for her upfront manner and is not afraid to ask questions to get to the bottom of an issue.

Frank Ciotti, Council President

Ciotti is was on the few on the current council who was elected to his seat. His role on the council is of a mediator and is known for being fair. Ciotti, a longtime McIntosh resident, works for the state and lives in the historic district. His home won Light-up McIntosh in December 2006 in the two-story home division. And yes, he's the one who has the lifesize Santa Claus on his second-story porch every year.

Lee Deaderick

Deaderick was appointed to the council in August and then ran unopposed, replacing former Council President Danaya Wright who resigned last July. Deaderick makes his living as a commercial fisherman. He lives on the west side of McIntosh and was very involved in the McIntosh Area School Board before joining the council. Deaderick is a proponent of property rights and an opponent of local ordinances limiting them. Former councilman Cary McCollum is his father-in-law.

Eunice Smith

Smith once said she was elected to the council winning a record number of votes the last time she ran. She has 27 years experience running McIntosh as either the town clerk or a councilwoman -- and sometimes, both. She lives in the historic district. Smith brings a breadth of experience to the council, but she keeps quiet on many issues. She has a history of turning a vote unexpectedly.

Howard Walkup, Council Vice President

Walkup lives just outside the historic district. A veteran councilman, he served on the McIntosh Town Council from the 1990's through 2005 when he did not run. He won his current seat by running unopposed when former councilman Jim Strange resigned. The Walkup family has a long history running the town council. Walkup was part of the recall petition drive last summer to remove Danaya Wright and Jim Strange from the council. His politics of late have been to move the council and town policies to the way they were before the 2006 council took office.


Town Clerk: Debbie Miller, town hall

Miller became the town clerk in November 2006. She moved here from south Florida and worked as an office manager in the past. She also has previous experience working with her former condo association.

Town Attorney: Scott Walker, Alison Folino, offices in Gainesville

posted by Cher @ 10:33 AM, , links to this post

McIntosh Chat Forum

Welcome to McIntosh Chat.

The chat is in beta. "Beta" means if it doesn't work or blows up in our faces, I'll pull it from the site. I thought it might be fun to try. Keep in mind, you can chat anonymously or enter your name but what you put up here will remain archived and accessable.


posted by Cher @ 9:36 AM, , links to this post

McIntosh Polls Archive

McIntosh Polls Archive

July 17, 2006 - Sending code enforcement to the county level

26 Votes
21 - Yes
3 - Maybe
2 - No

July 18, 2006 - Code enforcement: reactive v. proactive

21 Votes
20 - reactive
1 - proactive

July 22, 2006 - Should McIntosh have a CRA?

22 votes
1 - Yes, ASAP
2 - Yes, after one year
8 - Yes, after five years
11 - Never

July 24, 2006 - Budget shortfall

38 votes
14- raising water rates
0-increasing Ad Valorem
10-cutting expenditures
10-all of the above
4-none of the above

Sept. 19, 2006 - Water rate increase

28 votes, 21-yes, 7-no

posted by Cher @ 8:49 AM, , links to this post

Mapped by McIntosh

Map McIntosh is an interactive, personalized map that anyone can use to add points on with comments, pictures, whatever you want. Think Wikipedia with a map function. The map is based on Google's map functions, so we're not putting out there anything that Google hasn't already posted online about the town. You have control of the content you add.

What the heck can this be used for? Proud of a structure in the historic district? Then why not add those historic register points to the map, drop in a picture and a couple of lines about the history of the place that no one in town realizes?

posted by Cher @ 7:07 AM, , links to this post


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

About This Blog

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.

Web This Blog

"A Popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison, 1822

"Personal journalism is also not a new invention. People have been stirring the pot since before the nation’s founding; one of the most prominent in America’s early history was Ben Franklin, whose Pennsylvania Gazette was civic-minded and occasionally controversial." - Dan Gillmor, 2004, We the Media

News Tips:

Call 352-363-0234


Previous Posts

Listen to meetings online:

Listen for yourself to McIntosh Public meetings. Digital recordings are available in the audio archive page of the blog. Audio Archives

Message from the Editor:

The news blog covers McIntosh, Fla. We strive to be accurate in our reporting. If you believe you something is inaccurate, please e-mail Cher Phillips at

I would like to know more about how the blog serves you and the community, what I can do better and generally what you think. I've created an anonymous survey. Please CLICK HERE to take a survey about the blog and give me your input.

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