Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Commissioners to citizens: We love you, here's a proclamation to prove it

Call me a sucker for moments when people actually seem happy with local government, but I like those schmaltzy commendations handed out at Hillsborough County Commission meetings.

Winning high school soccer teams, Boy Scouts, do-gooders, pillars of the community, business owners and retiring public officials who have managed to not sully themselves — commissioners pick them for Official Recognition just after the Pledge of Allegiance but before the real business of the meeting begins.

Like who? A woman who turned 100. TECO for its help in Hurricane Sandy. A longtime School Board member, a former mayor — even a German shepherd named Chino in the sheriff's canine unit got his props. Before battles over redistricting, transit, trouble at the animal shelter or whatever the county headache of the day, citizens (and a dog) got their attaboy, their signed proclamation and their moment.

Did I say moment?

Because sometimes there are so many such proclamations, with accompanying speeches and picture-takings with commissioners at their toothiest, feel-good commendation time can spill into the actual business the board was elected for. Agenda items marked time-certain — for which workaday people sit waiting in the audience — can get "blown out of the water," says Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

And while every commissioner doles these out, some are more prolific back-patters than others.

"Some days you walk in and they're stacked up on your desk," says Commissioner Les Miller — commendations for anything from "being recognized for being an Eagle Scout to, I don't know, a winning cow at a fair." (The recipient presumably not being the actual cow.)

Miller wanted to commend a community activist but was told it couldn't happen for 2 ½ months, given all that were scheduled. And the activist was battling cancer.

The list has included everyone from Monsignor Laurence Higgins (12 minutes) to Mel Lohn of the local culinary gem that is Mel's Hot Dogs (nine minutes.) That one came from Commissioner Victor Crist, who got to say things like "with great relish" and "frankly, the best."

And commissioners don't just commend pre-meeting, they also proclaim, proclaiming it Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, Pro Bono Week, Older Americans Month, Water Conservation Month, Donate Life Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Black Nurses Historical Day, National Bullying Prevention Month, and, who can forget, Cybersecurity Month.

Yes, since you ask, an (elected) official commending a citizen can come off as hokey and possibly even political, if you are a cynical sort. It can seem like, apologies to Chino here, a bone thrown to a voter in hopes he'll remember this kindness come election time.

Except it's also just kind of nice.

People have been known to tear up at being officially recognized and thanked. "They really do appreciate them," Miller says.

For this slightly sappy story, a happy ending: Commissioners recently agreed to hold commendations to three per meeting, four in special cases, with more to be handed out at quarterly meetings.

But already, they plan to push to four at their next meeting with a proclamation for Nelson Mandela,

"Three minutes," Miller says. "That's it."

Commissioners to citizens: We love you, here's a proclamation to prove it 12/12/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    And Ramos is giving the Rays a pretty good glimpse of what that can be like.

    In Friday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, he hit a grand slam - …

  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Scouting Report: Watching Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen

    Bucs

    No matter how much film we study, no matter how much data we parse, we just don't know how an NFL season will unfold.

  3. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum

    Hurricanes

    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  5. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar

    Blogs

    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.