Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A good day

Today has been good. I came home from work about 6:30 PM and for the first time in quite some time I feel good. I physically feel good, and I feel accomplished in my work. I'm not quite sure what's made the difference, especially my feelings toward work, because I'm in the weeds as much as I've ever been. Today was our third annual Council meeting with the County Commissioners. I did not sleep very well last night/this morning. I woke several times between 11P and 7A, and the time that I did sleep, I dreamt of being late for this meeting. Other senior staff were carpooling, but I chose to drive myself. Maybe that was weighing heavy on my sleepy mind. At any rate I took a few moments this morning before getting out of bed and thought of the day ahead and mapped the successes I was looking for. My wardrobe came together easily, by drive was pleasant, I found a parking spot, found my way to the conference room (I'd never been to this complex before) and was the third person there, preceeded only by my boss and a local reporter. (Phew. good show!)

I was responsible for several documents that were critical to this meeting. The problem leading up to this meeting, for me, was that I never received any clear direction about these docs. Let me explain a little: I work for the Town Manager. The TM works for the town council. I do NOT work for the town council - that distinction is very clear in the town charter. There is also the town attorney that works for the town council. She does not work for the town manager, and town staff does not work for her. So town council directs the town manager and the town attorney. The town manager directs staff. The town attorney works in conjunction with town staff, but she does not give direction to staff. ( She makes suggestions.)

The town council has been working on an interlocal agreement with Lee County to "nourish" the beach. This has been ongoing for as long as the Town has been incorporated (13 years). It's a highly controversial project and involves local, county, state and federal funding: FEMA, DEP, ACoE. There's all sorts of issues and it's been battled around for 13 years. My Council has made excellent strides in coming to negotiations with the County (cty holds the permit). There's issues of funding, dunes and vegetation, easements, disposition of sand, the erosion control line....blah blah ad nauseum. So we have an interlocal agreement that the Town finally adopted Monday night. Today, the Council gave their "pitch" to the County. The ILA was one of several documents that were my responsibility to have today. There were 2 other ILAs and executive summaries, etc.

So, as the Council makes decisions and sets policy, while staff tries to coax them out of the details of the project, they direct the town manager and town attorney. The town attorney drafts the agreement (the legal dribble). So as clerk, I am responsible for getting the clean version of this document fully executed and in triplicate (along w/ the other docs). Normally, that's a non-issue, as the normal course of business is for me to forward them via USMail to the county attorney's office, and they send back the signed agreement. No one told me that the Mayor's directive was to have these docs on hand at the joint session. No one told me until 4:00 yesterday afternoon. I was in town hall last night at 10:48 PM, gathering the remnants of these docs.

Anyway, I've quite digressed. I've probably bored you with shop talk, as well. But these are some huge issues: not document management, but the issues the Town is facing - especially for a small, young town. The minutes clerk from the county clerk's office said to me after the meeting that she learned a lot today. Commissioner Mann who is "old time Fort Myers" and has been a politician his entire adult life, commended the Beach for a well executed, no muss meeting. "In all his years in government..." It was quite a compliment to this "red-headed step child."

Reflecting on this meeting, I get a chuckle out of the male/female ratio. We're still a county of "good ole boys." The Beach has 5 elected officials, 1 of which is female. Our atty is female, and 3 of the 5 senior staff are female. The county has 5 elected officials, 1 of which is female. And of their senior staff in attendance, 1 female, and she is from the attorney's office.

It was a good meeting and set the pace for a good day. It has been a good day. Gracie spent the afternoon with Lola and Ruca, her girlfriends that live with my daughter and bff Kelly. She just got home, had dinner and is snoozing. She's exhausted. I have a crisp martini, classical on the stereo, the weather is cooling and humidity dropping. I feel satisfied and accomplished.

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