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Yet another 3-2 vote bisected the Winter Springs City Commission on Monday, this time about time itself, when city meetings would be allowed to end. The decision would be “whenever the job’s done.”
“If you can’t show up for the job, quit,” resident Gina Shafer said, chiding some members of the Commission for wanting to be able to end meetings before all business is completed. “If you can’t do the job, then resign.”
The vote was the third in a row after a rift had opened more than a month before, between the Commission’s two newest members and the three longer-tenured officials. In all three votes, the split was the same, with Commissioners Victoria Colangelo and Cade Resnick voting to keep a rule requiring a vote to extend any meeting lasting longer than two hours. That rule required a supermajority vote to extend past three and a half hours. The change would rescind the provision requiring the Commission to vote repeatedly to continue meetings.
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“I’d be just as happy as anybody else if we could get out of here at 6:45, but that wouldn’t get the job done,” Commissioner Matt Benton said.
In the very first meeting that saw a vote to direct the city attorney to draft legislation to end the meeting extension rules, the meeting ended at 10 p.m. due to the supermajority requirement, with Mayor Kevin McCann frustratedly banging the gavel as he lamented that, by ending the meeting early, the city may have lost out on “millions and millions” of first-come, first-served county-apportioned federal dollars to help rebuild bridges in the wake of Hurricane Ian. McCann called for a special meeting the following Monday, Jan. 30, to finish the job, requiring, as one resident pointed out, city staff to return to work to staff the meeting.
Resnick said that he thought the Commission was spending too much time getting information from city staff during meetings that he thought should be obtained beforehand, causing meetings to run long.
“My reason for bringing this up originally is because we are not prepared as a dais,” Resnick said. “It continues. Our job is to prepare ahead of time.”
“This is not my lack of professionalism,” Resnick added. “It’s actually my respect for professionalism.”
But that comment rubbed at least one commissioner the wrong way, as Commissioner Rob Elliott fired back.
“I stay in constant communication with the city, city staff, deputy city manager,” Elliott said. “I read voraciously everything that’s going on. I consider myself very well prepared for these meetings. These packets come out, sometimes they’re 1,000 pages. I read all of them.”
Elliott clarified that when he asks staff questions, it’s so residents can hear the answer out loud in a public forum.
“Sometimes I bring something up here, it’s not because I don’t know the answer, it’s because I want you to hear the answer,” he said, talking to residents. “For you all to hear exactly why the traffic light is delayed I think is a service to the community. When I ask a question, almost 100% of the time I know the answer. You’re not talking to staff. We are.”
The vote would end with the same 3-2 split as the two times before, and with McCann beating a similar refrain as he’d done after other contentious votes on the dais.
“The truth is this isn’t about meeting times,” McCann said. “We have two factions in this city right now. If one side says they want something, the other side is going to say they want something else.
We’ve got to choose our battles. What time we leave here isn’t the battle we want. Let’s take care of the business of the residents.”