Letter: The Beast Shows Itself

At last week’s Loxahatchee Groves Town Council meeting, another good man went under the bus.

Following in the still damp footsteps of Mark Kutney, victim of the same clear and obvious abuse of power, Keith Harris was “removed” as chair of the hopeless and directionless Roadway, Equestrian Trails & Greenway Advisory Committee (RETGAC).

His crime? Freedom of expression. Ironic, as only a short time before the bus arrived, all in the room took the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag and republic that claims liberty and justice for all.

There’s a fascinating back story to Keith’s removal. Like another famously good man over 2,000 years ago, he accurately predicted his own demise.

To understand the Roadway, Equestrian Trails & Greenway Advisory Committee, you have to dig a little.

Setting aside incorrect grammar, the key is in the last two words. It’s supposed be an “advisory” body, a kind of “think tank” to help our local council. Well, that’s OK, we all need advice.

But here’s the rub: each member of the RETGAC has to be approved and “appointed” by a member of the town council. A bit like Geppetto fashioned Pinocchio…

Oh dear. Really? Yes, incredible, mad and horrifyingly true; only a councilman can appoint a “puppet.” He can then instruct his puppet to “advise” the council to do whatever it is he wants to do. With the weight of an apparently “independent” advisory committee behind an idea, no matter how bizarre, a councilman can float any self-serving notion he fancies! Now, not all councilmen do this. Councilman Tom Goltzené and Mayor Dave Browning remain earnestly independent of their appointees. The other three, sadly not.

So, what happens when the puppet cuts the strings and takes on a life of its own?

Keith Harris (appointed by Councilman Ryan Liang) was never going to dance to Ryan’s odd tunes (most of the time written by others anyway), no matter how hard Ryan yanked the strings. Not even with Councilman Jim Rockett and Councilman Ron Jarriel yanking with him.

With new bloods Laura Danowski and Jo Siciliano joining RETGAC, Rockett’s puppet Kathy Strehlow (never seen at council meetings) and Jarriel’s puppet Nina Corning were soon marginalized, which led to the outrageous scenes in what turned out to be the swan song meeting of the RETGAC last month.

I was there, as I had been the previous 15 meetings. Keith Harris achieved more in his three months as chair than the waffling, time-wasting, agenda-driven committee had achieved in the previous three years. Progress… the ultimate crime against government.

Moreover, in last week’s predictably spiteful removal of him as chair, he masterfully exposed the cabal on our council. Keith’s puppet master, Ryan Liang, still no doubt smarting over his “Keith Harris petition based” embarrassing gaff last meeting, used his “power” to petulantly motion withdrawal of his support for Keith. Rockett couldn’t second quickly enough, and Jarriel, of course, fell in line. Presto, the cabal spoke and Keith was gone.

So, well played, Keith. You exposed the RETGAC for the politically driven joke it always has been. You also rid the town of yet another nonsense committee. Without you, RETGAC has no future.

Finally, and most importantly, as you predicted you would, you demonstrated with great statesmanship how flawed our council is and why we need March’s election so very, very badly.

Any idea who’s running against Ryan? I know you have Ryan’s dissed 97 votes for his opponent before he or she even thinks to hit the campaign trail!

Tim Hart-Woods, Loxahatchee Groves


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