INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It used to be that City Commission meetings at Indian Rocks Beach went far into the night, leaving commissioners and staff alone and reeling because sensible folks who faced work the next day had gone home.
One of the themes sounded by the successful candidates in the March election which resulted in their gaining seats on the commission was to cut down on late meetings.
This was a key hallmark in the minds of Terry Hamilton-Wollin and Bert Valery who were chosen by the voters to attempt to fix a city government that was clearly broken. No longer was the commission and public subjected to the lengthy speeches of Ed Piniero who was wisely given the heave-ho by voters on March 13.
For example, on April 10, some business at the commission meeting was left undone because the idea of rejecting going on and on into the late hours was rejected.
Mayor Bill Ockunzzi, at the witching hour of 10 p.m., asked for a motion to extend the meeting.
Instead, a motion for adjournment was voiced, quickly seconded and voted into reality. It was that quick because a motion for adjournment, once seconded, cannot be debated.
That quick and peremptory action left at least one lingering and hardy figure in the audience who had hung around howling like a banshee because he had business he wanted to take up.
And that is the way it goes when attempts are being made to fix a broken government.
One of the reasons some of the essential business did not get taken care of that night is because time was taken up by the bloviations of Piniero, now a former member of the commission but still strong of voice and weak of ideas.
Lots words and noise filled the air of city hall and ricocheted around the walls, ate up lots of time and necessary business was not done.
Business time for the commission got cut short again last week, and, for the first time in memory (even among the most ancient observers), the meeting was continued beyond its real time session.
Ockunzzi sent out an e-mail April 26 after the foreshortened meeting and listed eight items that were not covered. "The purpose of this e-mail," Ockunzzi wrote, is to apprise commission members of these issues, their status and request that the interest, priority and scheduling desired by the commission be determined by you or Deanne (O'Reilly, the city clerk)."
Some observers wonder why Ockunzzi would take this kind of initiative in "continuing the meeting," as it were, by means of e-mail communication, to inform fellow commissioners about city business that was not attended to.
In the Indian Rocks Beach set up the mayor is just another commissioner with the added duty of presiding at meetings. The mayor does not set agendas and only has the added responsibility of representing the city ceremonially.
Before Ockunzzi became mayor with the departure of Bob DiNicola, he and Jim Palamara and Jeremiah Carmody, who were on the commission at the time, always made a fine point of calling DiNicola, mayor-commissioner.
The double barreled name is one Ockunzzi avoids these days, preferring the single word, "mayor."
Under the charter, as far as can be determined, the city manager is in charge of the agenda of the meeting and therefore in charge of any unfulfilled agenda in terms of informing the commission in the fashion that Ockunzzi took upon himself.
Steve Cottrell is serving as interim city manager since the departure of Al Grieshaber who is now a defendant in a suit filed by the city to recover money.
Requesting in his e-mail that the "interest, priority and scheduling desired by the commission be determined by you or the (city clerk)" seems rather odd and apparently by-passes a role that one would think the city manager would fill.
There didn't appear to be any issue among the items Ockunzzi cited as not taken up for lack of time that was extremely time sensitive.