We'll slow down here a moment and give the folks at the Big Paper a chance to catch up . . . some of them are researching false information so they can write insipid and false editorials.
Okay . . . all ready? Let's go -
At the risk of sounding patronizing - and this is definitely not intended that way - one has to take note of the growth in the political and public service arena of one Chris Arbutine of Belleair Bluffs.
When you look around and wonder who, in the younger generation, is going to take the helm of leadership in Pinellas County in the future, Arbutine comes up on the screen.
He has been in Pinellas County substantially all of his life, moving here when his Mom and Dad - Pat and Art Arbutine - opened their business (Silver Queen, which started in Belleair Bluffs and is now on West Bay Drive in Largo) in the 1970s.
The business is still going strong and prospering and Chris is part of it. It is no doubt the involvement in the family business gives Arbutine the time he devotes to a full schedule of government obligations.
First off, he has been mayor - and a very successful one - of Belleair Bluffs for five years. Before that, he served on the City Commission.
Arbutine has been a member of the Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Planning Organization since 2002.
Both of these are key positions in developing information and contributing to planning in the county. After four years on those boards, Arbutine is one of those people who is listened to, by virtue of his experience.
He brings similar experience and clout to the Mayors Council.
Just a few weeks ago he became the incoming president of the Suncoast League of Cities and is on the Florida League of Cities board of directors. On the civilian side, he is past president of the Belleair Bluffs Rotary.
Busy guy, but then, as a former president once observed, if you want to get a job done ask a busy person to do it.
Arbutine's observation is "it's amazing how you get organized and efficient if you have a lot of stuff to do."
It appears now that whatever unfolds - in the government sense - in Pinellas County over the next many years Arbutine is going to be a part of it.
He has come a long - therein the growth mentioned at the outset here.
When he first came on the scene he had all the attributes of a newcomer - sincere, but tending to the idea of trying to "win" on issues as they came along. And because he had colleagues of like mind on the Belleair commission when he first became mayor, he got things he wanted to do done.
Those hard edges have been smoothed. Experience will do that for a fellow who is learning politics - that is, the art of dealing with people and issues and learning how to compromise where everybody gets something and no one is left out in the cold.
And Arbutine has learned well.
Belleair Bluffs, a small city, runs smoothly (largely because it has a very competent city clerk, Debra Sullivan, and a skilled public works guy, Robert David), so Arbutine can spend time looking at, discussing and being involved in county issues.
Lurking in the background in the county is the incipient idea of a metropolitan government (a la Miami) for Pinellas County. This is a ghastly notion to many and, because of the many cities in the county, is probably unlikely.
But County Administrator Steve Spratt came to Pinellas from Miami and he knows how metro government works.
Some things on the table, like the "dual referendum" subject, seem to inch toward the metro idea, Arbutine thinks.
Dual referendum would poll voters countywide on a given issue and would poll, as well, voters in individual jurisdictions.
In other words, the local city or town could opt out. County sachems have put out the word that a little city, with a negative referendum vote, could wipe out the idea totally for the whole county.
A canard, Arbutine says; totally false.
Well, he's on top of stuff like that.
So whatever the future brings, he probably will be part of it, and will be able to handle whatever comes along.
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