DC-CHANGES, VIERA-NOT SO MUCH

While Donald Trump is changing all he can policy wise in Washington, DC right now, it is his prerogative as President of the United States. He is an Executive Branch member. Other things he wants to do will require legislative action and the president will have to wait to accomplish those. Appointments will require the approval of the Senate. Legislation may take days, weeks or months of negotiations in order to make it through the process. It’s how the system works.

In Viera it’s a bit different. The Executive Branch that sets policy and enforces law is elected in the constitutional officers of Brevard. The County Commission is not an executive, but a legislative branch of our county government. As such, even the Chairman of the Commission is not an executive; he is a commission member with one vote. It takes 3 votes to make most things happen; in some cases it takes 4. And while Commissioner John Tobia is an equal member with prior legislative experience (in the Florida House of Representatives) even that experience could not have prepared him for what this job entails. It is more constituent services than legislative. Tobia hasn’t learned this. He hasn’t learned a lot.

That, in and of itself, is interesting since Tobia is an educator and would presumably value education and learning about a position before being effective in it. Maybe in this case experience will be the best teacher. When Tobia garners no more than one vote in addition to his own for most of what he proposes, maybe then he will see that he cannot bully his way into the job.

Tobia’s first attempt at imposing what would be his executive will was shot down when that one additional vote is all he could muster for support. Now, as this piece is being written, he has another proposal floating in front of the commission. He wants restrictions on commissioners text messaging while in a commission meeting, lobbying after leaving office and travel authorization in representing the county at various functions that commissioners sometimes attend. I can see some reason for the second and would support the latter with modifications, but that communication limitation seems a bit heavy handed. As things are now, none of these stand a chance of passing.

Tobia openly threatened commissioners opposed to his first (lobbying registration) proposal with retribution in their next election. He may have some money and a PAC to work with, but he doesn’t have the power. Besides, it was totally the wrong way to go. You need at least two allies on the commission to accomplish your agenda. Trying to intimidate your way to success does not work in such a small body. You are one of five votes. You need to work with people.

Until he sets aside the aggressive, gotcha nature of his proposals and learns the new job and working with people, John Tobia will be an ineffective member of the County Commission. I hope he learns it quickly so the sideshow can stop and the work of the commission can begin.

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