New county commission responds to public

After five or six years of overbearing, even abusive behavior, by St Johns Commissioners deemed to have bullied members of the public who have come before them with concerns and complaints, the new commissioners seem interested in what the public has to say.

Historic City News reporters have observed years of budget and financial presentations before the commission and find them to be some of the most difficult for the public to fully understand.

Frequent commenter and critical observer Betty J Kalaidi, approached the podium today to question figures related to county employee retirement benefits presented earlier to the commission. Specifically, she made a request for a response from Jesse Dunn, assistant director of the county Office of Management and Budget, as to whether or not funds for post-employment payments were included in a specific figure quoted.

Vice-Chairman Bill McClure, who manages the function of public comments during commission meetings, not only allowed Kalaidi to clarify her question, but, when she completed her three-minute comments, he and Chair Jay Morris, questioned Dunn as to Kalaidi’s concerns; seeking a direct answer to a direct question. Commissioner Ron Sanchez also questioned one point that Dunn made to clarify a point raised in Kalaidi’s comments.

The former commission, specifically under ex-commissioners Mark Miner and Ken Bryan, would not have taken any effort to try to amplify the speaker’s concern, but also would not have re-directed those questions to the staff member — even though he was sitting six-feet away.

Historic City News sees an opportunity for better relations between our residents and our elected local government. The addition of two new, but well versed, commissioners has clearly made an impact on the quality and tone of the discussion of important issues.

The commission is refocusing its inquiries on actions taken by county staff — not blindly parroting the responses most comfortable for the county administrator or his employees.

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