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Spring Hill fire board's dissolution the right call

Coming back from vacation is a drag — facing daily chores tougher than picking out a nice bottle of wine, dealing with the heartwarming greetings from co-workers ("What! You still work here?"), showing up at an office and actually having to be useful.

All in all, it's a tough adjustment.

But, this year, one bit of news has eased the transition. And, oddly, it comes from the most annoying, pointless governmental body I know of — the Spring Hill Fire Rescue Commission.

Or maybe it's not so odd, because the news is that this dysfunctional bunch is about to be eliminated.

Just think. Accounts of its meetings might never again darken the pages of this paper. Bickering commissioners might never waste the time of reporters and, more importantly, the energy of taxpayers trying to figure out how their money is being spent.

As you probably know by now, Spring Hill voters have twice declined to grant the district taxing authority. With no money, the fire board seemingly has no choice but to turn the job of running the district over to the county.

Of all the headlines on stories written while I was away, this one, on July 14, most warmed my heart:

"District's end is begun"

A week later, my co-worker, Logan Neill, described in more detail how the county expected the handover to happen.

The fire agency would live on as a taxing district, meaning revenue collected there would be spent there. But decisions about running the department and spending this money would be turned over to the County Commission. This consolidation could save some money down the road. And the fire board, thankfully, would be no more.

At a workshop Friday, several fire commissioners — trying to resist this inevitable course of events — discussed delaying the vote on the county takeover, a vote now scheduled for next week. They also talked about hanging on as a so-called "dependent" district. In doing so, they showed why this would be a terrible idea.

Slightly more than an hour into the discussion, as fire Commissioner Rob Giammarco urged the rest of the board to disband as quickly as possible, Chairwoman Sherry Adler suddenly called out, "You will be asked to leave!"

The camera panned over to catch her pointing her gavel into the crowd.

"This is not the time to laugh, have fun or anything else," she admonished two members of the audience, one of whom was Giammarco's brother-in-law, Patrick Clements.

As Adler stood up and called for them to be removed from the meeting, she was challenged by Commissioner Ken Fagan, Giammarco's only ally on the board.

"Will you sit down and stop acting so ignorant?" he asked her.

She did neither, but instead called for a break and, moments later, dialed the Sheriff's Office.

Not being in town at the time, I couldn't tell you for sure whether Clements and the other audience member really deserved to be admonished. I do know you can't hear a thing on a tape of the meeting, and that by calling 911 Adler wasted deputies' time, just as surely as the commission has wasted vast amounts of its own and residents' time over the years.

Fagan and Giammarco didn't exactly add to the commission's dignity. But in advocating the board's quick, merciful end, they were undeniably right.

And Giammarco was also on the money with his exasperated response to Adler's petty display:

"I don't even know why we're here," he said. "This is ridiculous."

Spring Hill fire board's dissolution the right call 08/02/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 8:15pm]
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