INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - With the strife of the recent election now history, Indian Rocks Beach residents saw a new commission installed Tuesday night with Judge George W. Greer doing the honors.
City Hall had a festive air as citizens and officials chatted and schmoozed before the meeting began.
There was much picture taking as all and sundry were very much aware - without saying so - that Greer has a certain amount of fame gained a little more than a year ago when he stood steadfast for the law in the Schiavo case.
Consequently, there were many pictures taken of various combination of folk, but with Greer always the focus of the picture.
When swearing time came, Greer, from memory, recited the oath of office first for re-elected Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and then for Commissioners R.B. Johnson, returned to office, and newcomers Ed Piniero and Jose Coppen.
Actually, Piniero is not that new having served previously as a member of the commission and as mayor.
Plaques went to Jeremiah Carmody, who chose not to seek re-election after two terms, and Jean Scott, who filled a vacancy when Ockunzzi moved to mayor after Bob DiNicola retired.
Before the swearing in, the ever pleasant Greer spoke of the importance of local government and cited the key fundamental of "disagreeing without being disagreeable," citing an incident from his own history when he became a county commissioner more than 20 years ago.
That may be a test for the new commission. Piniero and Coppen have had their differences. Whether their scrimmages in the past will be part of the scene on the commission remains to be seen.
Fortunately, both are mature, skilled men who more than likely will see the greater good and not allow any differences they have color the ongoing business of the commission.
Johnson laid out a plan that he says he intends to pursue; namely, that he will push for no more than two stories above parking on any development on the east side of Gulf Boulevard.
"I think we ought to change from being on defense and go on offense, and I intend to push for this," Johnson said in his stand for small scale development.
Ockunzzi sort of echoed this idea, saying that he wanted to preserve the city's small town, resort character.
"I want Indian Rocks Beach to stay affordable for the diverse community we are," Ockunzzi said.
Johnson was appointed vice mayor on Jim Palamara's motion. There were no other nominations and the appointment was unanimous.
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