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08/31/2017 Letters to the Editor

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Same old song, dance and party

If you have been following the exploits of your local City Council and administration, you have probably heard recently of the invitation-only party held for the promotion of your City Clerk to City Administrator. You’ve possibly seen the mayor’s letter soliciting city vendors to pay for the party.

As mayor of the city during arguably the most challenging years of its history, it was more than curious why I wasn’t invited to said party. I find this very telling.

Our Council somehow found the money privately to compensate the vendors who inadvertently paid for the invitation-only party and found another roughly $15,000 in the budget for your clerk’s promotion to Administrator. However, they can never seem to find money in the budget for our beloved fire department.

Now, most egregiously, they are sending us all a notice of an impending County Fire Assessment Fee under the guise of it being collected by the city and for the city. That’s right. They are again working to get rid of our fantastic Dunnellon Fire Department.

Rid of our fire department, with less than three minute response times, to charge you the taxpayer more for less reliable service? This is absurd. The county has repeatedly said they are having trouble covering their existing service area already. Not to mention, their response times range upward of 20 minutes or more.

As it stands, our city fire department responds to any EMT or fire calls in and around city limits. If our department can be first on the scene, they are. Backing our crew up, as always, is the county fire department with advanced life-support (ALS) training.

It’s very important to note: At this point we pay nothing extra for this incredible privilege. However, your Council is looking to start paying the county more of your hard earned dollars for something that we are currently getting for simply having an interlocal agreement with Marion County.

This is a no-brainer for County Commissioners looking for more revenue to balance their budget, but a nightmare for a county fire department already struggling to service the vast expanse of Marion County.

When I dial 911 for one of my loved ones, that three-minute response time is priceless. This Council should be very careful of what it is trying to do and I hope that our citizens will again rally to save our fire department. They are a privilege to have in the city and would be a huge loss.

Four of these five Council Members were on Council in the late 1990s and early 2000s and tried this same tired “budget saving measure.” I think we all know the direction the city went from there on. I was a first-hand witness of the mess that previous councils had made.

My four years as mayor taught me that this town is full of promise, but is, unfortunately, being run by personal agendas that continue to keep it from flourishing.

It’s time to put these personal agendas aside and do what is right for the citizens who are paying the bill. A strong, confident, prosperous city should have services they support and are proud of.

Please rally for your local department at the City Council Workshop at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6. The meetings are supposed to be at 5:30, but watch the city website as the time may change.

This may be our last chance to save our City Fire Department, a true privilege to its citizens.

Nathan Whitt, Dunnellon

City officials must rebuild trust

Most of us are so immersed in meeting our family’s needs and helping our neighbor to realize we are living in tomorrow’s history. How will history recount that as we lost our faith and trust in each other and our institutions that America lost her way?

Trust is the sinew that binds families together and the fabric that holds neighborhoods and communities together.

But trust is not an entitlement. Like respect, trust must be earned. Once earned, trust is fragile and like respect easily damaged or lost.

Despite the best intensions, there are times when leaders break trust with those they lead. Trust can take a long time to build and just a moment to destroy. Only deliberate and concerted time and effort can restore trust.

How to rebuild or restore trust:

* Acknowledge that a problem exists. A breach of trust can have difficult and emotional consequences that many leaders would rather avoid. Yet to begin the rebuilding process, leaders must acknowledge that the situation exists and needs to be addressed.

* Leaders have to admit their part in causing the breach of trust and take responsibility for their actions and for whatever harm was caused. Refusing to admit mistakes reflects negatively on the “believability” of a leader and can let a mistake in judgment turn into an indictment of character.

* Leaders must apologize for their role in the situation acknowledging the mistake and admitting their involvement with regret for the harm caused and assurances that such offenses won’t be repeated. The apology must be motivated by sincerity and remorse, not contrived or forced. Finally, avoid making excuses, shifting blame, or using qualifying statements that detract from the apology.

* Leaders assess the specific behaviors that caused the breach of trust. Repairing a breach of trust can seem like a daunting task, yet if leaders identify the specific behaviors that were at the root of the issue, they can create a realistic plan to move forward.

* Finally, the leaders and offended parties must agree on what is going to be done differently moving forward to rebuild or restore trust. This is an ongoing process of evaluating the consistency of the leaders’ behavior and alignment with the corrective action plan.

As other communities are tearing themselves apart, what is Dunnellon doing to establish and maintain trust between those in City Hall and their constituents to foster a healthy and harmonious community?

It is time for civic, religious, business and government leaders to come together with a vision and plan to move Dunnellon in a positive direction with the leaders recognizing that all stakeholders have an interest in Dunnellon’s future.

“Trustworthiness requires the courage to be honest.”

— Poor Richard

Art Fisher, Dunnellon