Parker’s Perspective: Tallahassee Politics and the Art of the Deal

Parker’s Perspective: Tallahassee Politics and the Art of the Deal

When asked about my disappointment with not being selected for appointment to the city commission seat I once ran for, I said that’s not the end of the story. I still have to go to church with some of these people!

As I get older, I realize that loss is a significant part of life, and if one strives to make a difference, one must expect some disappointment. I also would not include this as a “real” loss, more of a missed opportunity. A real loss is of a child, relative, or close friend. This is the loss of trust, of honesty and authenticity, all things that we have the power to recover through our actions with each other.

We shouldn’t expect or want this city commission to fail. In a real community, things just don’t work that way. There were several good applicants, including a few previously elected, who did not get a nod. In that respect, I find myself in good company. My concern remains on what kind of lesson we teach the next generation when decisions get made in this manner. Imagine spending years in college, or on-the-job training as an apprentice, just to have a friend of the owner step in and put someone else in your place.

Replacing Maddox is the first litmus test for a new commission on whether it remains tone deaf to his model of leadership, one built upon a quid pro quo, on rewarding friends, and enabled by local deep pockets with specific interests in mind. It would appear from what we know so far that we are still struggling to move past this model of decision making.

Early in the process commissioners stated an interest in finding the best person, though the issue of transparency surfaced rather quickly with Tabitha Frazier’s ambitions coming to light. Some picks appear to be throwaways, with the real intention to ensure the appointment of a connected selection. Commissioner Matlow was the only one to request written responses to questions, a sound and clever method, and a good cover regardless of whether the answers are used for anything. Matlow’s pick of Howard Kessler, a former opponent of new sitting Commissioner Williams-Cox, is interesting for the mixed message it sends.

I sense much of the selection was predetermined, and commissioners went through the motions publicly. It’s why cynicism flourishes and Tallahassee remains more a southern city than a capital city. If it is okay to skip to the front of the line rather than running for the seat, than the significance of public vetting matters little.

This is the chance for the great reset, to admit a bit of culpability in empowering Maddox and chartering a more honorable course. People must have a reliance on the validity of the political process. Whoever is appointed might consider publicly agreeing not to run for the seat in 2020, and give the people back the choice. Otherwise, we will continue pretending to pray and work together and express love for the community on Sunday, yet it will remain politics as usual come Monday.

Daniel Parker is an author, educator, and public servant. He may be reached at

21 Responses to "Parker’s Perspective: Tallahassee Politics and the Art of the Deal"

  1. I understand the process to fill the seat but, I would have designed it better. Since 4 People had to choose from 93 Candidates, they should have taken a few days and studied the packages from each of the Candidates then they should have done this:

    Invited the Public to the Candidate Dedication Day starting at 1:00pm.

    Had all of the Candidates Bio’s that we saw in the Paper continually rotate on the big screen for everyone to see.

    The Mayor and three Commissioners hold a discussion about the Candidates in front of every one.

    The Mayor and the 3 Commissioners each choose 20 Candidates, writing their Names down.

    The 4 Lists are then handed to the City Attorney and City Manager to look over where they write down all the Names that are on ALL 4 Lists and those Names are called out.

    The Mayor and the 3 Commissioners each choose 3 to 5 Candidates, depending on the Number of Candidates remaining, writing their Names down.

    The 4 Lists are again handed to the City Attorney and City Manager to look over where they write down all the Names that are on ALL 4 Lists and those names are called out.

    A new Date is chosen where there is a Public Forum (Debate) held (after 5:00pm) so Tallahassee Citizens will have a chance to here the remaining Candidates answer questions submitted by those attending.

    Those attending are then given a Ballot where they get to Vote on the Candidate who they feel should fill the seat.

  2. Process? What process?

    Process would imply
    1. Identifying a actual need.
    2. Verifying the issue.
    3. Finding the root cause.
    4. Justifying the cause.
    5. Seeking and proposing all available solutions.
    6. Identifying and implementing the best solution.
    7. Publishing the results of the successful process so it can built upon in the future.

    This is a farce. Government is granted authoriity only in so far as it represents the interest of people.

    The interest of the people is not taking, and taking, and taking and then scattering some crumbs on the ground thinking we’re so busted by your grandiosity that we’ll lick your boots and beg for more.

    When government stops representing the interest of the people it must be replaced. The uniparty has long ago stopped representing anything but BS for hire. It’s an advertising agency for absurdity. Its either naturally going self correct just through is own stupidity.

    In this case there is no separating the dancer from the dance when we are left to pay the piper after they slam the door in our faces hoping not to face the music.

    I’m sure it was pretty to think they could appoint some useful idiot with an absurd agenda that they figured would go along along with wherever the fruits and.nuts trail leads. It ain’t like that no more.

    The conditioning is wearing thin. Sooner or later we are going to wake up and realize we have the technology, the will. and the power to make their miserable existence a living hell. There’s not a damn thing they can do about it because if they fail to communicate with us they cannot represent us. All the lobbyist retreats and committee meetings in the world aren’t going to change tbe fact If they don’t represent us they have not authority. Without the illusion of authority they have no relevance and without prelevance they are just lost in the noise.

    It used to be that leaders would ride horses to the various.communities carrying news, information and rallying troops for the cause. Now they just beg for money in shifts.

    I don’t think this latest little treachery is going to go down quite like they planned. They may have hoped it would come up smelling like roses. and isn’t it pretty to think so, but it smells to me like the death fart of a dying institution.

    They better wake up?apologize profusely and hold a special election. Or not. I’m actually hoping for the or not.

    Because guess what assholes.

    We don’t know who you are. We don’t know what you want or WTF you’re talking about. Nor do we care. If it’s ransom you’re looking for we don’t have money ( thanks to you ). What we do have are dry particular sets of skills that we have acquired over long careers spent educating ourselves, raising our families building our community. Skills that make us a nightmare for people like you. If you let our sons and daughters go we will not look for you. But if you do not we will look for you. We will find you, We willexpose you and humiliate you. We will piss on you. And when we come for you, you had better savs that last keystroke for yourself.

  3. This is the chance for the new commissioners and the mayor to convince Tallahassee that they want to represent all of the people.

    It was the Republican vote that gave commissioners Matlow and Cox, and Mayor Dailey The Edge needed to win their seats.

    WILL the commission vote with their political party or take a slight right turn that WILL give this community a new beginning, a fair and balanced result, and new hope?

    It is up to them to decide if they want to put corruption in their rearview mirror and take the road that will make all the difference…for all.

  4. It’s your party and you can cry if you want to, but if this is their choice, I don’t think any of them need to worry about running again.

    If this was let’s make a deal they just chose the big box of crazy.

    Think of her as Maddux’s revenge.

    I predicted they would go with the midget. I didn’t foresee they would all be gone with the midget.

    I guess what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas

    Curtis should be OK. The rest “Ay, Pobrecita”

    They better start working on a time machine because their best hope is to escape to a time before Tabitha.

    Maybe the fruits and nuts are psyched but the wind in the trees sounds like “OOOhhhh Sh…… …t”

    Try throwing some water on her maybe she’ll melt.

  5. I’m sorry. I couldn’t find the form (maybe because the non-profit is too small for it to be required, but that doesn’t diminish the need to find out whether or not Ms. Frasier personally benefited by taking salary/compensation of any amount from the grants.

  6. I went looking for Ms. Frasier’s IRS Form 990 for the non-profit she established with public grants, Leon Fruit and Nut Exchange. I wanted to know whether she has personally benefited from those public grants. (NOTE: I am NOT challenging that non-profits need well qualified and fairly compensated leadership.) If she did, then appointing her to the commission sends the entirely wrong message to everyone. Public money is supposed to be a public trust, with no personal benefit at all (except that officially approved consistent with established law).

  7. I don’t know why you think being a “southern city” is a pejorative? As if being southern is synonymous with being corrupt…..

    Maybe that’s why you aren’t on the commission?

  8. Steve Stewart has received far more voters in Tallahassee than you have, as has Frazier.

    Also- what’s wrong with a Southern City?

    Quit bellyaching. Fair process does not = you being chosen out of 90+ candidates

    1. Thank you for reading. You make a good point. It would have been good for community dialogue for Stewart to apply. I did bring this up with him. If the vetting process has appeared to learn anything from the Maddox embarrassment, let us know.

  9. What entitles you to the seat Daniel? This is long-form pouting, ascribing motives in the dark.

    Like her or not (I don’t), Frazier has been elected and re-elected by city voters. If you know of a better metric to gauge public support, suggest it.

    1. Thank you for reading. The proper metric is to do a vetting process differently than done before, and to certainly not equate running for any office as running for a Tallahassee city commission seat.

  10. “Matlow’s pick of Howard Kessler, a former opponent of new sitting Commissioner Williams-Cox, is interesting for the mixed message it sends.”

    Please elucidate. What’s the mixed message? Is this “mixed message” something only you perceive or something you’ve heard from others as well?

    Also…. regarding Tabitha Frazier: what were the transparency issues *as they relate to the commission*??

    Thanks for your op-ed piece.

    1. Thank you for reading. Given the current circumstances and what the community is trying to move away from, I believe the community would have been better served by a different process. As for the Howard Kessler selection, he is a fine man and would be a fine commissioner. I find his selection under this condition to be in bad taste.

    2. Please elucidate? big picture: Tallahassee’s Tammany Hall boss and newly annointed under bosses rigged the system with their political partonage pick well in advance of the theatrics! Despicable and shameful! Who can tax payers trust if not our elected officials – shysters!

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