Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Commissioners debate whether to pause Dunedin's '542 Main' TV show

DUNEDIN — Upcoming elections have prompted Dunedin commissioners to debate whether to bag the second season of a city-produced television show aimed at putting a human face on City Hall.

Last year's episodes of 542 Main each featured a one-on-one interview with a member of the Dunedin City Commission, City Manager Rob DiSpirito or former City Attorney John Hubbard. The half-hour broadcasts, aired once each over seven consecutive months, were hosted by Harry Gross, Dunedin's former assistant city manager and onetime parks and recreation director.

Commissioners fielded identical questions about things like their professional and personal backgrounds; the most difficult and enjoyable parts of their part-time political jobs and what the gig entails; and their outlook on the economy and city finances.

"It was really just getting them off the dais so people could get to know them better," said city spokeswoman Courtney King.

But the looming November 2012 election has thrown a potential monkey wrench into city plans to start airing new 542 Main episodes next month.

Mayor Dave Eggers and Commissioners David Carson and Julie Scales — who are up for re-election next winter — said they won't participate because they don't want it to appear that they're using the show to lobby for votes.

The election is more than a year away, "but the (campaigning) process has already begun," said Eggers, who raised the question during last week's commission meeting. "It's hard enough for non-incumbents to have a chance and you have to give every chance to folks who want to run," he said in an interview after the meeting.

"I feel very uncomfortable," added Carson. "The perception could be that we're promoting ourselves during the election year and I'm not supporting that. I would prefer to see us postpone it this year."

The discussion has left the show's future in flux.

Scales, for example, said she doesn't like the idea of commissioners ever appearing on the city-run Channel 15 in any capacity.

"We shouldn't be using public resources to promote ourselves because, I don't care how you slice or dice it, we're promoting ourselves," she said. "This is a small town and there's tons of opportunities to see our citizens."

Her colleagues disagreed. They said they support the show's focus on allowing constituents to interact with them and other city staff.

Before each show aired, for example, King said she asked the public to submit inquiries for individual guests via Facebook or e-mail. Questions included one for the city manager about the status of a proposed low-income housing project at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and a question for Scales about the Gateway project. Carson, too, said watching the show helped him to learn about his fellow commissioners.

"I don't believe we're self-promoting. We represent the community, and this is a chance to answer questions," Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said. "I think we should be doing that every year — doing these kinds of interactive things with our citizens."

Officials threw out options, including airing the show only during non-election years, bringing on department heads or new City Attorney Tom Trask as alternative guests, and allowing commissioners to decide individually whether to participate this year. Commissioner Ron Barnette suggested a compromise: Skip the show this year and decide on future seasons later. However, no final decisions were made and officials said they would discuss a potential policy early next year.

Eggers said this week that he plans to raise the subject again at the commission's meeting Thursday. He wants to encourage Bujalski and Barnette to participate this year if they want.

"There's no reason why they should not," he said. "If you believe in the program, you should be able to do the program."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153.

ast facts

Dunedin TV

Watch programming produced by the city of Dunedin online at http://tinyurl.com/3kktty9, at Channel 615 on Bright House Networks, or Channel 15 on Knology and Verizon. To see last year's episodes of 542 Main, visit http://tinyurl.com/44963z3 and click "Additional Programming," then the "2010" tab.

Commissioners debate whether to pause Dunedin's '542 Main' TV show 10/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 27, 2011 6:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.