In the game of poker, it’s called a “tell”. It can be as subtle as a blink, or as strong as a smile; but, to a seasoned player, it is a dead giveaway of what your opponent is up to.
Recently we’ve seen some very telling behavior at City Hall. It’s not hard to find anyone, at least amongst the administration, who isn’t breaking their arm to pat themselves on the back for the nightmare on San Marco Avenue at May Street — and, of course, the drama is far from over.
It’s being portrayed as an “accomplishment” by some in the press, because that’s what the press releases are saying. Public Affairs got eight years of experience under the Boles administration in learning to polish turds. That experience is paying off, again.
Anytime you lose $200,000, if in fact that is the final price tag, because you bought high and sold low with other people’s money, I don’t get the rush to add that tidbit to your resume. The appraisal on the 7-Eleven property was $1.1 million. City Manager John Regan, who is more adept at keeping everybody happy than he is at being the best negotiator, committed the city to a $1.4 million purchase. It’s the Florida DOT that should be taking the high-fives for coming back now and buying the property for $100,000 under appraised value, not the city manager who booked the loss.
“But, we stopped the 7-Eleven from building a super-mega-24-hour gas station”, the administration proclaims. Well, I say, if you stop a problem that you caused yourself, where’s the glory in that? You should have never issued the building permit in the first place.
And did YOU stop anything, anyway? Overpaying to buy yourself a little time before the residents, and their attorney, brought the wrath of Nelmar Terrace and the north beaches down on your head, is again nothing to cheer over. You simply escaped accountability for your prior bad acts.
If anyone is due any credit for stopping what would have been just one more public relations fiasco, it’s the residents. They did the hard work. They knocked on the doors, and communicated the impending risks of a 7-Eleven being built at one of the city’s worst intersections, then motivated the citizens to protect themselves by writing letters, speaking out publicly about the situation and visibly walking the picket lines in protest.
As I’ve said, this story is not yet over. We hope it works out well for the residents, but, so long as the city manager and his assistant are calling the shots, there will be many more opportunities to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Stay tuned.
Photo credits: © 2016 Historic City News staff photographer