Charter Review Board meeting gets heated at public hearing Tuesday night

Later on, during the board member’s discussion on public comments, White accused Stiles of not showing more of a concern for minority groups.

“You haven’t come into the hood, the black community and spoke with me,” White said.

Stiles responded to White’s accusation saying that she has been working with a lot of African Americans.

“We have talked to the community, we walked in the community.  But did you know if you look at the votes for the veto power, we carried the African American community on veto power?” she said.

New Charter Review Board member Rochelle Rebeck said that she lacked proper knowledge of the issue concerning the veto power issue.

“There is so much that I don’t know that I would like to be educated on about why a county mayor is good for this county and I don’t have a position against the county mayor,” Rebeck said.

The main argument against a county mayor having veto power was the ability of the county mayor rejecting and overriding budget motions from county commissioner hearings. But, as Rebeck also expressed, there is concerns on whether the county mayor would be partisan or non-partisan.

The public hearing ended with a 10-3 approval vote to have the county’s attorney’s office prepare an alternative ballot resolution that would remove the language of a county major having authority over the budget. A second hearing is scheduled on July 13th at the Frederick B. Karl County Center in Tampa.

The agenda for the Charter Review Board of Hillsborough County Tuesday night was to discuss repealing the position and functions of the county internal performance auditor and also repealing veto powers of a county mayor, a position that has yet to be created.

Board member Jan Platt tried to set the tone for the night’s hearing, foreseeing friction with the public and board members.

“We are just talking about two issues: the veto and the internal auditor, so I would hope that everyone remembers that this is what the public hearing is about. Period,” Platt said.

Board member Gerald White dominated the discussion with his fear that minorities in Hillsborough County would lose their voice if the amendment were to pass.

“It doesn’t have a dancing partner and so that was the reason it had to go to the justice department to be looked at. I suggest to just scrap the whole thing because I’m just so afraid that this will adversely affect the minority citizens,” White said.

A key figure during the two-hour public hearing was Mary Ann Stiles, Chairwoman of the Elected County Mayor Political Committee, INC.  She discussed why having veto power for the proposed mayor position was critical.

“We thought that if you had somebody that served on the same committee as the members, it could cause confusion and would not have , I guess independence that we saw of the Orlando system and it seems to work very well,” Stiles said.

Stiles also spoke about the confusing nature the veto power and the non-existent county mayor position is having on the public.

"This is causing confusion like you would not believe with the public and I want to tell you, I think you owe the public an apology for doing this at this time," she said.

One Hillsborough County resident, Rosemary Goudreau of Tampa, said she came to speak about the veto power and her dissatisfaction with the review board.

“Government has gotten in the way of citizens who are trying to change the structure of government in Hillsborough believing that there is a better way,” Goudreau said.

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