On the chopping block in Pinellas
Pinellas County commissioners are building lists of jobs and services to cut to hit a projected rollback number by $31.5-million next year. A workshop produced a list that includes $1.8-million in grants to youth sports leagues, $1.3-million in health care to the poor, $900,000 in dental care to the poor and $227,000 from layoffs of inspectors.
Also on the chopping block is Donna McGaughey, for 21 years director of the Pinellas legislative delegation. Though on the county payroll, McCaughey works for legislators, tracking budget items and local bills, organizing public hearings and fielding calls from constituents (six other counties fund similar jobs for their delegations).
County Commissioner Susan Latvala said the action was not retaliation for local legislators who supported tax relief, but simply elimination of an unnecessary expenditure. To upset employees, Latvala advised: "Tell them that we have got this woman (McGaughey) sitting there to do things for legislators that their staffs can't find the time to do or don't want to do."
The county relies on local legislators to get money for projects or to get county legislation passed in Tallahassee. "I don't think it's a very smart move on their part," said Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, the delegation chairman. "I think it's a little vindictive, personally. You shouldn't bite the hand that's helping you."
--Will Van Sant, Steve Bousquet