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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Have Kenneth City's council meetings become ... boring?



KENNETH CITY -- File this in the "be careful what you wish for" file.

Kenneth City's council meetings, long known for their tempestuous exchanges between residents and elected officials, seem to have undergone a change with the ascent of Mayor Pro Tem Teresa Zemaitis. The meetings and workshops are quiet and, dare we say, civilized? (That's one of the things Zemaitis' supporters said they wanted when she was running for election last March.)

It's not as if the council isn't dealing with some hefty issues that have the potential to be controversial - a change in phone carrier from Verizon to Bright House in an effort to save an estimated $4,620 a month over the next three years. Or a decision to ask for proposals to replace the roof of the Police Department/Community Hall, which could cost upwards of $39,000. And the residents are just as outspoken. But some of the fire has gone out of the exchanges.

One person in the parking lot outside the Community Hall was overheard after Monday's workshop: "It's not so fun anymore. Maybe we ought to get Marino back." Marino is Paul Marino, the former town attorney, who was accused of running the meetings and often traded barbs with audience members.

Marino's replacement, John Elias, who is also Seminole's city attorney, is a stark contrast. Elias seldom speaks unless he steps in to caution council members about some legality and, when he does, his voice can barely be heard. In fact, Elias is so quiet that Zemaitis had to apologize to him during Monday's workshop for "forgetting" that he was at the council table.

-- Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:55am]


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