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May 17, 2024

A refreshing experience in Florida

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On February 20, 2021

Florida (ECWd) –

It was -4 when I pulled out of my driveway last Sunday for a business trip to Florida.  After picking up John in Paris, Illinois we headed south and wondered if we would beat the massive storm that was coming across the country.  Fortunately, we stayed ahead of it by a few hours and made our way to our Florida stops – Lake County, then Palm Beach.

During one of our dinner meetings, there was a Palm Beach County Commissioner who joined us.  As we were explaining our work I presented her with the same question we have asked local elected officials for years. Have you read the powers and duties for the office you hold?

Considering we left frigid below zero weather along with snow and ice you might assume the title, “A refreshing experience in Florida”, had to do with the warm weather we experienced last week.  While the temperatures were refreshing, the response from the Commissioner was the real refreshing experience during this trip.

Commissioner Maria Marino said she was working her way through the statutes regarding her powers and duties as an elected official.  Most of the time the response we receive to such a question results in a question back at us, such as “what are you talking about?”

Not only was Commissioner Marino sincere with her response, but it was also clear she was informed and knew there were actual powers and duties that came along with her position as a County Commissioner. It was truly refreshing to see an elected official who took her position seriously.

The following day we spoke again with Commissioner Marino and the subject of our question came up again.  To our surprise, this Commissioner not only was actively reading the laws applicable to her position, but she had also taken steps to inform the citizens of Palm Beach of those powers and duties to include pointing them to the actual law.

How refreshing is that? 

A public official who knows there are laws that apply to their duties, reads them, shares them with the citizens, and then actually asks for their input on matters and provides not only a phone number but also her email.  Considering we have public officials who lie about even having an email it’s encouraging to see others recognize it is the people they serve.

After three days in Florida, I can say Illinois could learn a few lessons on how local government is supposed to operate.

Thank you, Commissioner Marino. It was truly a refreshing experience to meet an elected official who understands there is an actual rule book on their powers and duties.



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  • Fausta Marino
    Posted at 14:30h, 20 February

    I just finished reading your article that featured my daughter, Maria and I want to say thank you. Several years ago when she first talked about running for public office, I tried to talk her out of it. You are not thick skinned enough and you are going to get hurt, I said to her. She responded with, I probably will, but I have to try to help as many people as I can. I am sure there will be people that don’t like me, but I am ok with that. All I can do is be honest and do the best job possible. I always said to her “you must leave the world a better place than you found it” and she is doing just that.

    Thank you again, Fausta

    Fausta Marino

  • Mags
    Posted at 15:01h, 20 February

    If we could only be so lucky here in Illinois and Dupage County, as well as all the rest.

  • Cindy
    Posted at 15:15h, 20 February

    What you call refreshing, I would call sad. It’s like the old Chris Rock joke about the woman that claimed her husband was a good man because he was not in jail. Rock’s reply was an astonished, “He not posed to do that!” These officials are SUPPOSED to know these things.

  • PK
    Posted at 18:04h, 20 February

    Good read. Thank you.

  • John
    Posted at 14:20h, 22 February

    Using 2017 data, Florida has 12,257 citizens for each unit of government. Illinois has 1,850 citizens for each unit of government. There are so many units of government / elected officials in Illinois they can be ignorant of the law in plain view and no one knows. How many Illinois units of government lack a website?

    Florida, 20.9 million population, 1,712 units of government.
    Illinois, 12.8 million population, 6,918 units of government.

  • pk
    Posted at 19:50h, 06 March