BROOKSVILLE — To keep the county's affordable housing program up and running, the County Commission this week appointed members to a new Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.
But as they discussed the appointments Tuesday, they skirted around an 800-pound gorilla in the room.
When Commissioner Dave Russell moved to appoint the 10 people to the committee who were brought forward by Donald Singer, executive director of the county's housing authority, he could not get a second.
Later, Commissioner Diane Rowden made a motion for eight of the 10, and it passed with only Russell voting no. What commissioners didn't discuss was the two names left off the list: Blaise Ingoglia and Z. Vernon Hall.
Ingoglia is the Spring Hill home builder and professional poker player behind last year's Government Gone Wild seminars. Hall is his business partner and manager of his mortgage company.
Ingoglia has publicly declared his vow to unseat incumbent Commissioners Rowden, Jeff Stabins and Chris Kingsley, all of whom voted Tuesday on the committee list that excluded Ingoglia and Hall. Ingoglia's businesses are financially supporting opposing candidates.
When asked Wednesday about her exclusionary motion, Rowden said she voted for the other eight because they were qualified and the "best possible positive applicants'' who will do good work on the board.
"I was not comfortable supporting Mr. Blaise Ingoglia for the board,'' Stabins said. He said his feeling is "based on a lot of the theatrics from last year'' and the fact that "my experience with Mr. Ingoglia is nothing but negative. He's a lightning rod for trouble.
"I don't think that he ought to be surprised with the reaction from those of us who had to endure his ridiculous attacks last year,'' Stabins said.
"For me not to get on that committee when I'm volunteering my time and energy to fill a need in this county, that is a little bit of a shame,'' he said. "It's obviously not my resume.''
He said the commissioners made the decision for a political reason.
"It's very clear that they're putting their own self-interest and their political preservation before what's best for our community,'' Ingoglia said. "This is just another reason in a long line of reasons why the commissioners don't need to be on that board any longer.''
Ingoglia's Hartland Homes months ago established an affordable housing marketing program, and he said he has been talking to experts, educating himself about the issue. Ingoglia said with his experience, he would be an asset to the board.
Kingsley's response to that: "I'm sure he likes himself, and that's okay.''
He said he voted for the motion because it was the one put forward and that it was important to get the committee appointed before a June 30 deadline.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.