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Fly on the Wall, Edition No. 3


The Fly has a rule that if a court reporter shows up at a government meeting, expect fireworks.

Except this week the fireworks fizzled out. At the Bradenton City Council meeting on Wednesday, two agenda items that drew a crowd were continued. The next edition of the Bradenton Tabernacle and Smoothie King tales would have been interesting stories ...

People left after the continuances were announced, and the court reporter began disassembling her "rig." Oh well, maybe next time.

One of the great court reporter agenda items was a land use debate at a special meeting in the County Commission chambers a few months ago when each side so distrusted the other that it brought its own court reporter. Those ladies kept at it for nearly five hours (with some breaks) as the verbiage flew and they got it all down for posterity.

'Fan' mail from some flounder?

The Fly loves your comments and questions, though some folks are, for some reason, not thrilled at my journalistic efforts or the topics I've chosen.

One correspondent has sent me two very long e-mails, with the latest saying a recent story I did "made me sick to my stomach."

I guess I should stay away from restaurant reviews, if even my city government coverage is putting people off their fodder.

I probably should add that long e-mails with lots of capitalized words, accusations against elected officials and demands that I get on board the train of reform go nowhere with me. My job is to report the news, not become a crusader for causes.

Just thought I'd add that.

Money can't buy fun

This past week's budget meetings offered little in the way of humorous moments. The Fly thrives on clever repartee and barbed comebacks. Some meetings were downright somber, and with the events of the previous Friday still in mind, no wonder.

Got to believe in something

A group of students from Keiser College got to see the budget process for schools, and maybe wonder if journalism is a better career field. The board members occasionally addressed the students directly, though hearing about future cutbacks in education can't be too encouraging when you're borrowing money at 18 percent to train for a career there.

Jim Drake gave a long PowerPoint presentation on the budget, and the final slide was only up for a short time. "We believe in Manate!" (sic) it declared in big type. The first rule of newspapering is if you're going to make a mistake, don't make it in display type (headlines or captions) because that's what people see first. Manatee was spelled right in the body copy, but the slide soon disappeared.

Who to blame

New arrivals in Florida can find the government somewhat confusing. Bradenton City Commissioner Marianne Barnebey, at a Council of Governments meeting a few months ago, said people would sometimes take her to task about some issue involving the schools, and she'd tell them that city councils in Florida have nothing to do with education, unlike in some places up north.

So School Superintendent Tim McGonegal quipped, "I told them that."

McGonegal and other officials at budget meetings have been reminding folks that they set the millage rates but the Property Appraiser sets the value. And cities like Bradenton and Palmetto have to deal with the fact that the city taxes are only part of the TRIM notice.

But sometimes northerners get confused. When the Fly first came to Florida in the late 1980s and moved to Palm Beach County, he got a bill from the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department, and when he wrote his check, he made it payable to the South Florida Water Management District.

The check came back a few days later with a note that it had to be written to the proper agency. And the Fly wasn't alone in making that mistake, apparently.

Well, the Fly has to buzz. Until next time ...


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