Overheard at St. Pete Beach City Commission

 "I'd like to introduce everyone to our new city clerk, Rebecca Haynes."  - Mayor Steve McFarlin


"One of the things I learned a long time ago is that you can mess with a lot of things in government, but you don't mess with the sanitation workers. People become very comfortable; they have a great relationship." – City manager Mike Bonfield, in recognizing Ruben Howard. Mr. Howard works with WSI.


"You must have read the mayor's note." - Vice Mayor Bev Garnett, when a presentation ended in just a few moments.


"According to current standards, if we don't receive a variance from DOT, the bulk of the medians out there existing and proposed will not have trees or palms." - Jim Gilman, a representative from the Genesis Group, the landscape architect working with the city to landscape Gulf Boulevard, the Bayway and 75th. The city will have to get a variance from the Florida Department of Transportation to plant trees or certain palms. 


"They look terrible." - Commissioner Marvin Shavlan, who said he favored removing certain palms that didn't look good.


"Even though we may be a challenge down in Pass-a-Grille, we do offer solutions." - Vice Mayor Bev Garnett, about the offer to pay for shell cover during Bayway construction.


"I think it takes away their right and ability to address us." - Vice Mayor Bev Garnett, on the mayor's proposal to move audience comments to the end of the meeting. Commissioner Marvin Shavlan said he agreed with the mayor. The city manager said that in the past the public expressed concern that residents felt that the commission "was trying to shut them out."


"I kind of  think the residents in the audience are the business at hand. I, quite frankly, think the audience comments are more important than the presentations." – Commissioner Jim Parent, who said that he favored allowing public comment to remain towards the start of the commission meeting. He added that he felt the presentations were important. 


"At the end of the meeting I take pictures with my phone and the only person left is the reporter from the Gabber." – Commissioner Jim Parent, about whether or not people would stay until the end of a meeting to make a comment.


"I wouldn't want to be made until the end of the meeting." – Commissioner Al Halpern, about public comment and where it belongs in the commission meetings.


"At this point we need to be aware of who is costing us what." – Mayor Steve McFarlin, about publicizing the city's legal expenses by lawsuit. Commissioner Jim Parent told him that the commission received that update on a regular basis.


"It puts them in the same boat as us." - Mayor Steve McFarlin, about his suggestion that the city move the audience comment until the end of the meeting.


"The only way we're going to do that is cut down the content on the agenda." – Commissioner Al Halpern, about shorting the meeting time.


"You're not real sharp at that point." – Commissioner Marvin Shavlan, about discussing city business at midnight. He also proposed a five-minute limit on non-city-business presentations.


"That's not an attack on a politician." – Deborah Schechner, who said she was surprised that her commissioner wanted to move public comment to the end.

"It seems like it was." – Commissioner Marvin Shavlan responded. At that point she started to respond and the mayor reminded the new clerk to start the three minute timer.


"This dog park was not well documented with opinion from the residents… I think there were a lot of ill feelings because of the lack of communication with the residents on this issue." – Susie Cummings, about the Vina del Mar dog park.


"We're not going to get into personal assaults here." –Mayor Steve McFarlin, when a resident suggested he could use statistics to call Commissioner Marvin Shavlan a liar. 

"I'm stating statistics." – George Morley

"No you're not." – Mayor Steve McFarlin. The mayor also asked Mr. Morley to "wrap it up" when his three minutes expired. Mr. Morley said he was almost done; the mayor allowed him to continue for another minute.


"I think it's much easier to get one of these tickets than you realize…Let's lean on the DOT and get Gulf Boulevard better lighted at night." – Pat Anderson, who spoke against the red light cameras.


"I don't want to give Ken Weiss a new career." – Commissioner Marvin Shavlan, about his choice to repeal the ordinance allowing red light cameras.


"We gave 50% off if it was a family, but not single persons." – Commissioner Jim Parent, who asked the city manager to look into extending the discount to individuals. He said he had a constituent approach him. The city manager said that the family discount was intended to bring in families, an area where the pool had lower membership.

"It's like putting on sale your least selling item," Commissioner Bev Garnett said. "I'm just explaining what they did."