This and That

on Saturday, 20 March 2021.

Hello Friends:

Community Service is its own reward. When I started as President of Concerned Citizens many years ago, I had no idea what we could or would achieve. It’s a somewhat different county than it was a few years ago. Still very reluctant to make changes that favor normal citizen, the rank and file of Franklin County and still largely run as Commissioner’s personal fiefdoms. Only you can change that. And here’s my pitch for today:

We need you to help us keep up the fight. We need more of everything. We need more Board Members, specialists in legal, accounting, medical professionals, school policy and more. If you have ever thought of volunteering and have specific skills, I’d like to hear from you personally. We are in particular need of a research assistant for yours truly! Hours will never be long and the rewards will be few, but collectively we make a difference.

Our discussion today:

Five “Must Haves” that Helps Local Government Excel

The amount of training that a Commissioner receives should be a conscientious obligation of each Commissioner. Some choose to take educational classes offered by county and statewide organizations, but some take only the minimum. Classes can make a good elected official excellent, but the beginning foundation must be a good one. Good government leadership is never perfect nor even always definable.

Look at these five pillars. Use them when speaking to your own Commissioner.

  1. Leadership: We have a representative form of government. We should try and elect individuals smarter than ourselves who can articulate a positive vision of leadership throughout our county agencies and personnel. We study how leaders plan to strive for positive changes that will help to enact their vision. Such elected leadership should NOT be about 5-0 unanimous decisions that simply pick the lowest common denominator. 5-0 decisions frequently are the worst solutions. Popularity risks may need to be taken. If getting along with everyone is your litmus test, you have already failed the leadership test.
  2. Economics: Leaders must have and develop further knowledge together with the ability to process it all. Such knowledge must be made understandable, relating to the county they lead. Why is Franklin County one of the highest spending counties in the State (per capita) when we are one of the “poorest” according to what everyone says? Wakulla County’s budget is about $84 million for 34,000 people ($2,470.59 per capita) Gulf County’s is $56 million for about 13,600 ($4,117.65) while Franklin County’s budget of $62 million for the 12,100residents and taxpayers’ totals ($5,123.97). Proportionality, Franklin County is always higher per capita for a variety of factors. One such factors is the amount of money Franklin County controls due to its exceptional success obtaining Grant Money as well as the designation by the State as “Fiscally Constrained.” This designation permits us to pay less of a “share” for projects that most other counties pay. On the surface, this may seem good for the citizens of Franklin County, but that has not held true. County population is not growing and our financial prospects have not matched the least optimistic economic development hopes. Do you agree?
  3. Planning: None of our current or recent past Commissioners have created a through, carefully thought out and vetted plan to raise the economic standing of the county. Taxes on wealthier areas of the county continue to increase without positive changes being made. What do you see that, in fact, raises any hope of a totally new tomorrow within our boundaries? Has a vigorous, aggressive, imaginative five, ten- or twenty-year plan been created? Excellent public resources are available through state agencies, the regional planning group or even respected private consultants, even the CCFC. We see an opportunity lost.
  4. People: The greatest resource of all can be our people! Constituents of our five commissioners may hatch some of the best new idea for our county’s future development. Such future-thinking ideas certainly don’t revolve around defending the long-beleaguered hospital or building yet another ball field. What fresh, new and positive outreach ideas are being bought forth? Why do Commissioners consistently deprecate national CEO’s, developers with national reputations and highly successful entrepreneurs including locals? Why only support the traditional ways of making a living here engendering hostility to change in general. Some Commissioners have been rude, humiliating, degrading, condescending and even offensive to constituents. As a recent example, the reformation of an Airport Advisory Committee (proposed of local hands-on users and experts) was quashed in a powerplay very evident to anyone listening to the exchange. Throwing away the combined, cost-free 60 years of aviation management offered into the gutter was irresponsible and unconscionable. Commissioners, please accommodate and even encourage citizen involvement whenever you can. That is a good thing, not something to be feared, avoided, unheard or even unsolicited.
  5. Representation: Understanding whom and what you represent should be the first responsibility of Commissioners as well as county leaders and employees. There’s no magic to running a small county. A good staff with a star or two already exists. But some adjusting is needed at the margins. Citizens must demand better future outcomes of elected officials who ultimately oversee all county operations. Shouldn’t the real report card be how well our county moved forward successfully into the future before you are returned to office? We do not believe that the family card should play a role in our county’s future.

Property values are likely to be higher this year. Will Commissioners still continue to increase demands on taxpayers again this year, the sixth year in a row? There has been no public accounting of how much public Covid money the County received. We have reason to believe it was substantial, perhaps in the millions???

The CCFC would like to see a reduction of spending for the next budget cycle rather the increases we have had for the last five years. There continue to be far too many properties sold on the courthouse steps because people can no longer afford constantly rising taxes. Whether a tax bill is $150 a year or $40,000, as one person told me, “It matters.”

Commissioners, will you reach out and join hands with your citizenry and other experts this year, or just ignore, dismiss, reject, disregard, insult, discount, snub us all? You have been elected to oversee the operations of our county in all aspects of success or failure. We want you to succeed, but you don’t have to do it alone, or “the way we’ve always done it,” It’s your call.

Lastly, we are at the end of our 2021 Membership Campaign. Please, please consider joining and send us your dues payment today, while you are still thinking about it. Remember to add your email address with your check to the address below. Your numbers and financial support are vital to the CCFC continuing being your county watchdog. Dues are not tax deductible. Let us fight for you and your quiet enjoyment!

God bless America and all of you!

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner Jessica Ward - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-9783

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