Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Talking about Absent Commissioner

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Talking about Absent Commissioner

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler, The Times-Union

Clay County Commissioner Christy Fitzgerald skipped Friday's special board meeting on an illegal dumping crisis to occupy another seat: one at the Bausch & Lomb tennis tournament on Amelia Island.

Fitzgerald said Sunday she made plans in June to attend the tournament, and the meeting was called by Commission Chairman George Bush a week ago. Fitzgerald said she knew the outcome of two agenda items -- that the county manager and public works director were going to resign before their job status was discussed -- and had been briefed well enough on other issues that she didn't need to attend.

Bush said at Friday's meeting Fitzgerald had a prior commitment, though he didn't know what it was. He said Sunday he was surprised to learn she was at the tennis tournament.

"This was probably the most important commission meeting I've ever attended," said Bush, a commissioner for more than 12 years. "I'm not going to judge her. I'm going to only say I always put my priorities in public life ahead of my personal life."

When asked by the Times-Union whether she'd made the trip, Fitzgerald said, "I don't think that's any of your business." Moments later, she acknowledged the vacation, which she said began Wednesday with friends on Amelia Island. She also said she was "very comfortable" with missing the meeting.

"I think that any elected official is allowed to take some time off. I definitely would have come back if those two [personnel] issues had not been resolved," said Fitzgerald, who'd previously shown support for County Manager Bob Wilson and Public Works Director Arthur Ivey.

The accountability of the commissioners was questioned during the meeting by several people concerned with the crisis, which will involve a costly cleanup of illegally dumped waste in three supply pits. Among the speakers in the crowd of 75 was county meetings mainstay Durwood Smith, who questioned Sunday whether Fitzgerald was earning her $54,000-a-year salary.

"I think she was obligated to be there. She got paid to be there," Smith said. "We're going to have to turn around and cut that [salary] if they keep missing meetings. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.