BROOKSVILLE — Commissioner Jeff Stabins, who had been scheduled to discuss his concerns about County Administrator David Hamilton, did not show up for Tuesday's Hernando County Commission meeting.
Chairman Jim Adkins said at the beginning of the meeting that Stabins was in Chicago with "issues or something.''
Stabins left Hernando County late last week to visit family in New York for Easter, but got stranded for several days in Chicago.
In offering an explanation to commissioners about his absence Tuesday, Stabins sent an odd e-mail for Adkins to read. The e-mail was never read, but Commissioner Dave Russell later asked to have it entered into the record.
It was titled, "Stabins unable to attend today's meeting due to grave illness.''
The e-mail reads as a script, with the board chairman beginning by saying, "Good Morning … good morning. I got somethin' to say. Please bare with me and listen up. Thank you,'' Stabins wrote. "It is with a heavy heart that I report … that (pause for effect) Commissioner Stabins is no longer with us.''
He continued: "Jeff's airplane out of Chicago left yesterday for Tampa without him, or his body. His family in New York is handling the details. I am sure that Jeff will miss us all very much.''
Stabins notes that his "final request" was to have his evaluation of Hamilton placed on Tuesday's agenda.
"Jeff would probably have preferred to be here in person, himself, to read the item, but, as we all know, $#*t happens,'' Stabins wrote.
He goes on to remind his fellow commissioners that he voted to hire Hamilton three years ago because he "was so enamored with Mr. Hamilton's line of bull$#*t that he eagerly seconded the motion to bring Mr. Hamilton, and his beautiful bride Linda, to our county FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS! That's right, folks, five big ones; so please get used to it. A contract is a contract. It is.''
Stabins, who has been critical of the way Hamilton has handled several issues, including the protracted effort to dredge the Hernando Beach channel, described Adkins giving the normal invocation at the beginning of the meeting, ending it with, "May God Bless the Hamiltons."
There was no immediate discussion by commissioners. Several citizens in the audience asked to know the contents of the e-mail. County Attorney Garth Coller said the public could obtain copies through his office.
During a break in the meeting, audience members talked about what the e-mail meant, whether Stabins had had another cancer scare like one months ago or whether something had happened to him.
Reached after the meeting by cell phone, Stabins said he had made it to New York to see his family, but along the way missed eight flights and had some medical problems.
Stabins said he did not intend to alarm anyone with his e-mail message.
"Everything in it was true,'' said Stabins, who is known for his sometimes eccentric behavior.
"I just wanted people to know why I missed the meeting. I've had some health problems. I've had some issues. I just wanted everyone to know that I missed them.''