Brooksville City Council gets a chance to accomplish what Gov. Rick Scott has been unable or unwilling to do — fill a vacancy here to ensure the public is adequately represented on imperative civic matters.
The city is accepting applications for a council vacancy created by the resignation of Emory Pierce, who left the post he had held for nine months to take a job as city manager in the Panhandle town of Blountstown. The council application deadline is 5 p.m. Monday and the members are scheduled to make an appointment Aug. 15, leaving the seat empty for just three weeks. A permanent replacement for the nearly three years remaining on Pierce's term will be chosen in the 2012 presidential primary.
Contrast that to the Hernando School Board which has been operating short-handed for nearly six months since Pat Fagan resigned. Fagan left his seat in order to collect his public pension after the Hernando County Commission eliminated his former parks department management position in February. Under state's double-dipping law, Fagan could not start collecting his retirement benefits while holding elected office.
The School Board vacancy is to be filled by Scott who is in no hurry to do so. Eighteen people applied, including one preferred by a Hernando Republican Executive Committee panel.
Scott's inattention to the school district's needs has brought a stalemate at times as the remaining four members often flounder for consensus. Case in point: Superintendent Bryan Blavatt recently saw his third attempt at a reorganization plan die on a 2-2 vote, bringing a stinging rebuke from the superintendent who labeled the board dysfunctional, unproductive micro-managers. Scott could help boost district efficiency by ending the potential for additional tie votes on a board dealing with strained finances, changing academic standards, state-mandated teacher evaluations and performance-based pay.
Likewise, Brooksville is inundated with fiscal concerns. The council just voted for a tentative property tax increase as it attempts to whittle more than $400,000 in spending. Having a fifth board member who is intelligent, energetic and willing to confront the financial questions head-on can only enhance the public debate as the city finalizes its 2012 budget over the next two months.
Those who want to serve shouldn't be shy about seeking the job. Applicants definitely will get a quicker answer from City Hall than the school district did from Tallahassee.