Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

PHCSA offers East Lake Community Library a nonvoting seat on their board

PALM HARBOR — In an attempt to correct communication problems between the two groups, the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency has invited a member of the East Lake Community Library Advisory Board to join the agency's board — but only as a nonvoting member.

"The PHCSA board would welcome your Chairperson or designee of your choice to sit up at the table with our board members to engage in open discussion,'' Rex Haslam, PHCSA board chairman, wrote in a letter to library board president Ron Schultz.

"You will not have a vote at this time, but you will have the opportunity to share your advisory board's thoughts, direction, activities as well as any input they have to the discussion at hand,'' the letter continued.

PHCSA (pronounced FIXA) is an appointed citizen board established in the mid-1980s to oversee the Palm Harbor Library and the Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Department and make decisions about how to spend property taxes collected in unincorporated Palm Harbor for those two departments.

The PHCSA board has seven voting members — two from the Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, two from the Palm Harbor Library Advisory Board, two from the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce and one appointed by the Pinellas County Commission.

The reason the East Lake Community Library doesn't have representation on the board is that PHCSA was created before the East Lake facility was built. A move to add a voting member would have to start with approval by the Pinellas County commissioners, said Haslam.

Since the library advisory board has never had representation, its relationship with PHCSA has always been rocky, said Haslam.

"It's been known since the beginning that East Lake would like a place on the board. We'd all like that,'' he said. "I've been told that over the years, PHCSA has asked county commissioners twice if they could be added, and twice PHCSA was told no.''

County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who represents the Palm Harbor area, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Geographical distance also has contributed to the communication problem. PHCSA and its Palm Harbor facilities are on the opposite side of Lake Tarpon from the East Lake library.

The tension reached a boiling point last fall when former PHCSA Chairwoman Marguerite Smirlis said in a public meeting that the East Lake Community Library director, Patricia Perez, was not showing PHCSA "the levels of cooperation, cohesion and teamwork'' necessary for the two entities to successfully work together. The PHCSA board moved to put a reprimand in her file.

But the East Lake advisory board rallied on her behalf, and at a special meeting between the two groups, Tom McKone, a longtime advisory board member, said the funding agreement between the two entities required PHCSA to include them in all personnel decisions. PHCSA has been working on mending the relationship ever since.

It was at PHCSA's annual retreat Jan. 28 that the idea for a nonvoting member surfaced. Tom Seibert, who is serving as PHCSA's treasurer, recommended it.

"Since it seems we can't officially get them on the board, let's at least get them in the program just to participate," said Seibert. That way, the two groups could communicate directly rather than through rumors and hearsay.

Schultz is pleased to have received the invitation.

"I'm pumped," he said. "Together, PHCSA and our board are pouring the concrete on the foundation of communication continuity despite the physical restrictions of the lake,'' he said.

And what is the status of the reprimand of Perez?

"That we still have to resolve,'' said Schultz. "Rex and I are planning to meet in the coming weeks. We'll continue discussing any concerns.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District is in bad financial shape and its reputation for sound management is perhaps undeserved, the district’s own fiscal team testified Monday in a hearing concerning teacher salaries.The district "made finan...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Before talks, Trumps take Macrons to dinner

Before talks, Trumps take Macrons to dinner

WASHINGTON — Tending to bonding before business, President Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron opened the French president’s visit Monday with an anything-but-ordinary double date with their wives at George Washington’s house. The presidents an...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa jury convicts former Air Force major of international parental kidnapping

Tampa jury convicts former Air Force major of international parental kidnapping

TAMPA — A jury Monday found a former Air Force major guilty of kidnapping his daughter and holding her overseas to stop his ex-wife from exercising her part of a Hillsborough County custody agreement.Andrew Haley Morcombe had argued that his 2014 jau...
Updated: 1 hour ago
With arm-twisting, Pompeo clears Senate committee

With arm-twisting, Pompeo clears Senate committee

WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a late pivot Monday evening, approved the confirmation of Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., bowed to pressure from President Donald Trump and dropped hi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New NASA boss gets ‘hearty congratulations’ from space

New NASA boss gets ‘hearty congratulations’ from space

Associated PressCAPE CANAVERAL — NASA’s new boss is already getting cheers from space. Immediately after being sworn into office Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took a call from the three U.S. astronauts at the...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Tase me, and you’ll see what happens,’ an American Airlines flier said. Police did - 10 times.

‘Tase me, and you’ll see what happens,’ an American Airlines flier said. Police did - 10 times.

Washington PostWhat began as a simple boarding dispute at Miami International Airport escalated into a tour de force of plane drama on Sunday as a belligerent passenger was repeatedly stunned by police, forcibly carried out of his seat, then driven t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In search for stolen car, the baby inside was the calmest one

In search for stolen car, the baby inside was the calmest one

ST. PETERSBURG — Photojournalist Michael Egger pulled into the apartment complex off 71st Avenue N on Monday afternoon, waiting for reporter Mark Douglas. The two WFLA-Ch. 8 journalists were looking for someone — they wouldn’t say who — when they fou...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Parents may have fled with newborn ordered taken by court

Deputies: Parents may have fled with newborn ordered taken by court

TAMPA — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a missing child alert on Monday for the 1-month-old son of an Illinois couple who fled to Tampa after losing custody of two other children. Newborn Sage Cooper was last seen Friday at a home on...
Updated: 2 hours ago