Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush, Lassiter Plan to Stay on Job; the Grand Jury Had Said Commissioners Should Consider Whether They Should Resign

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush, Lassiter Plan to Stay on Job; the Grand Jury Had Said Commissioners Should Consider Whether They Should Resign

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL

If the County Commission had taken the advice of the grand jury, Gov. Jeb Bush would have had more than one vacancy to fill and voters would be going to the polls in November to elect an entirely different commission.

"Commissioners . . . failed the citizens of Clay County and should individually consider whether they are worthy of continued service," the grand jury wrote in its report on an illegal dumping investigation. Christy Fitzgerald was suspended when the panel indicted her on theft and official misconduct charges.

While other commissioners were unavailable for comment, George Bush and Glenn Lassiter said they would not resign.

Bush said he planned to stay in his post until the end of his term in 2008 and would leave then so he could "have only one job." Bush is the co-owner of three insurance offices in Clay County.

While acknowledging the strong wording of the grand jury report, Commission Chairman Lassiter said, "Honestly, I don't think it [resignation] hadn't already been something each board member has asked themselves."

Lassiter already has announced he will not seek re-election to his District 4 seat. He is leaving for a post as the director of farming and ranch operations at Seamark Ranch, a home for abused, abandoned or neglected children.

District 2 Commissioner Patrick McGovern also has said he won't run for re-election. He is a retired Navy pilot and has been a commissioner for 14 years.

Despite the blunders of the past, Lassiter chooses to look at the present and future. "We have done a lot of positive things this year: We've gotten back $3 million in the budget, we made a decision on the outer beltway; we've hired a professional county manager and supported his decisions," he noted.

"It'll be a hot topic [grand jury report] for a while, but our [commission] focus is to move on," he said Thursday.

Bush was the lone respondent to the report of the grand jury, which scolded commissioners and Bob Wilson, the former county manager. …

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