Hendry-Glades Sunday News Archives

And thus as this deadlock of government drew to a close, there was peeked the chance at reform, perhaps a new era of fiscal soundness, grace and good will towards others, an end to doctored or concealed documents, and even for a community known for years by political watchers as “dog-eat-dog,” a chance to reconstitute its attitudes along more considerate, less authoritarian lines.

 

By Raoul Bataller

CLEWISTON,FL (Monday, Nov. 11, 2012) — Clewiston proved tonight it could conduct a City commission meeting in the midst of a great civil war, and almost finish.  After two hours of the most brutal civic conflict the Glades has seen in two decades, the exhausted commissioners, having summarily told City Mgr. Steve McKown, fired for cause without severance, to immediately clean out his office and hit the road, then cast doubt on the word of the town's lawyer, its utilities boss Kevin McCarthy and finance director Ken Byrd, whose turn will come, postponed action on two remaining agenda items, and only then called it a night.

No tombstone in effigy to this shootout would appear on a fresh mound of dirt on the town Green, although there was some talk of perpetuating the tradition.

Brand-new commissioner Phil Roland, weighing in with 20 years County commissioner experience many years ago but never witness to so many local high officials apparently lying in each other's face, appeared from the start a hopefully stabilizing influence.  

 

He soon found he was over his head for the brutality of what unfolded.  When it came to actually vote on the motion by Julio Rodriguez to terminate McKown immediately, seconded by Commissioner Mali Gardner, with all aghast, Roland could only utter his gasping assent half-heartedly.

 

So there may be all kinds of jobs openings.

But in the end there it was.  McKown's vacated seat and town attorney Charlie Schoech looking very deserted to face alone the darkened countenances of stormy commissioners.  

And McKown, unbelievably hardened by a year of embarrassments, following his escapade wearing novelty badges, toughened by getting caught and pilloried on Fox News, buffeted and off-balance through loss of budget control and pension renewal ommissions, never faltered.  He sat there impassively after the vote for a while, then calmly vacated his seat and took a place in the audience.

THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO
CLEWISTON, FL (Monday, Nov. 21, 2016) — Clewiston needs to hire a town attorney to insist, and I mean stand his ground, really insisting, that black and white are NOT just two versions of gray. 

Any lack of clarity in local government allows vast numbers of arriving minority groups to have a field day with code enforcement, wallowing in widening circles of deterioration, a dangerous economic trend given the town's problems with appearances. 

Unless Clewiston's City commission, which has failed in the past to put in harness every egotistical manager, now hires legal counsel that teaches it the proper use of law, all standards may become imaginary, giving way to an eerie scene of debating commissioners blind to actual developments.

Then the democratically run government will again give way, inevitably, to the demands of the town's ever-shrinking minority of old timers, to allow reestablishment of another penny-ante dictatorship, complete with a town manager sporting a police badge, a dominent commissioner and an army of code enforcement employees citing more violators than can possibly be prosecuted. 

When appearances deteriorate or major economic development needs fail to be met because of what appears to be an ill-managed government adrift, then the democratic form itself will give way to their demands for competence, experience, resourcefulness, legal legitimacy, and executive decisiveness.

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