Officials aren't drawn to camera
Spring Hill Fire Rescue commissioners unanimously agree to televise their meetings but remain skeptical about its benefits.
By MARY SPICUZZA
Published July 15, 2005

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SPRING HILL - Some say everyone in America wants to be on television.

But those people have clearly never spoken to the Spring Hill Fire Rescue commissioners about televising their meetings.

"We've got enough going on with outside agitators," Commissioner George Biro said.

Nearly every commissioner voiced concern about going on the air during the Wednesday night meeting. Still, they voted unanimously to televise.

"It serves a purpose for us to reach everybody in the community," commissioner Leo Jacobs said, later adding, "I think in this date and time, you can't afford not to televise."

They made arrangements with Rick Foti, a Hernando County video production manager, to videotape and televise commission meetings on the local government channel, Channel 19.

They expect costs to total about $500 per quarter, assistant fire Chief Bill Davies said.

The commissioners may be on the air as soon as their July 27 meeting.

Despite the unanimous vote, commissioners remained skeptical about the benefits of televising.

"You can see the participation we get," Biro said, gesturing to rows of empty chairs.

Others worried it would bring eccentric types looking for their moment in the spotlight.

"There's a concern it would bring everybody out of the woodwork," commissioner Gene Panozzo said.

Still, they agreed to be open-minded and try televising.

"I don't look forward to seeing myself on television," Jacobs said. "It ain't pretty."

At the meeting, commissioners also discussed the upcoming July 26 Hernando County Commission vote on a proposed ordinance that would give the county greater control over the fire district's finances.

Fire district lawyer Andrew Salzman said he was working with the county to make sure the fire district's interests, such as personnel practices, will be protected.

"We're trying to make sure that this board is not punished for perceptions of past boards," Salzman said.

Mary Spicuzza can be reached at mspicuzza@sptimes.com or 352 848-1432.

[Last modified July 15, 2005, 00:38:16]