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.

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01.14.07 -- Editorial: Grounds are only a public records request away

By CHER PHILLIPS

The McIntosh Town Council found its hands tied when it tried to boot Harris Fellman from the Code Enforcement Board last week.

And why not?

Because according to Attorney Scott Walker, they had no grounds for removing him from his post. Council Vice President Howard Walkup barely had the motion to remove Fellman on the floor before Fellman rang out with, "You can't do that."

The McIntosh Town Charter states that citizen boards serve at the pleasure of the council. The Land Development Code states that code enforcement board members can only be removed with cause.

Walker interpreted cause to be conviction of a crime or felony, drinking while serving on the board, absences, malfeasance or misfeasance.

The end result is that the Land Planning Agency, which defines and rewrites the town's code, will take up doing just that to the rules governing the code enforcement board.

Now, in my opinion, it is way past high time for the code enforcement board to be reworked because some of the Code Enforcement Board meetings I observed over the past six months reminded me of scenes from "To Kill a Mocking Bird."

As much as I think that Lee Deaderick's intention is in the right place, putting a budget on the code enforcement board as a means of reigning in Fellman sets up the town's people to pay hefty fines. Residents could conceiveably be brought up against two attorneys, a code enforcement officer and a secretary. Since Bill Glass resigned from the board after the meeting where he made obscene comments, the majority rule of the board has been rather fair and has not ruled that residents face fines.

But how long can that last when the board is chaired by Fellman, who turns a deaf ear to residents' concerns that he is biased against them while he makes the same accusation against council members trying to remove him?

The majority of the council wanted him out during the last meeting. Yet, Fellman told them point-blank they could not get rid of him. If someone is that adamant about continuing to serve on a board, can that person be trusted to NOT to fine residents in order to keep that board going?

If there is any pressure on the code enforcement board to fine residents, what chance does anyone have of not paying a fine when a three-hour meeting could cost between $1,200 -$1,500 for two lawyers, a code enforcement officer and a secretary.

Fellman claims that he likes to follow the letter of the law.

This is true. His observance of code is so strenuous that the town will have to change the letter of the law to pry him from this board.

Personally, I think there's another way. The council needs grounds. I have an idea how residents can help provide grounds.

I looked up misfeasance on www.nolo.com.

Misfeasance is defined as: "Performing a legal action in an improper way. This term is frequently used when a professional or public official does his job in a way that is not technically illegal, but is nevertheless mistaken or wrong. Here are some examples of misfeasance in a professional context: a lawyer who is mistaken about a deadline and files an important legal document too late, an accountant who makes unintentional errors on a client's tax return or a doctor who writes a prescription and accidentally includes the wrong dosage."

For months, Fellman has refused to provide minutes for the code enforcement meetings because he says that he does not believe that it is his job as the chairman of this board to provide them.

Fellman wants the luxury of trying McIntosh residents but he doesn't want the work that goes with it.

However, the other citizen boards in town provide their own minutes. Florida's Sunshine Law states that minutes must be provided for public meetings.

As the chairman of this board, it is reasonable that he should have provided minutes as far back as last June instead of excuses as to why he shouldn't have to provide them

Go ahead.

If you want to see a little misfeasance, drop by the town office and make a public record's request for the minutes from the meetings of McIntosh Code Enforcement board for the last six months. Copies cost 15 per page and by law the town has to cough them up within 24 hours or explain why. Here's a form if you need one.

The council wanted grounds. Well, grounds are only a public records request away.

posted by Cher @ 7:57 PM,

2 Comments:

At   January 15, 2007 3:21 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

Fellman, get to writing those minutes or pack up your bad attitude and get off the board!!!!!!!!! ( I wish you would ).

 
At   January 16, 2007 8:49 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

Here is a question-- If there has been misfeasance in those meetings? Isn't two lawyers present during the meetings? If so then they should have some legal problems for not informing the board?

 

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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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"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

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