Ritzy trip? It’s no day at beach for poor officials

Ritzy trip? It’s no day at beach for poor officials

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By Frank Cerabino

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My heart goes out to the Palm Beach County commissioners who have slogged across the state to do the public’s business at a luxury resort on Marco Island.

It’s not as easy at it seems.

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You have to get up every morning at a beachfront resort, pull yourself away from the buffet, avert your eyes from the 18-hole golf course, sidestep the spa, and head to a meeting room for a discussion of plebeian topics, such as public transportation or homelessness.

It’s enough to drive you back to your room for the scented soap and the mini-bar.

How easy can it be to focus on the homeless when you’re staying in a resort that asks, “Searching for Paradise?”

Not ideal. Certainly, the fact that taxpayers are ponying up about $10,000 to help pay for the trip to the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort comes as some solace.

But it’s a true test of public service, and I’m not talking about the champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries that come with the resort’s “escape romance” package.

They deserve a break, and a tan

This is no escape for our public servants. It wasn’t their idea to take time out from the daily task of finding ways to lay off county workers and grind out a few dollars from an overstretched budget.

They’re just part of a Florida Association of Counties gathering. And so it’s only fitting that four of our commissioners and some staffers show up.

After all, one of the seminars is on “honest services and public integrity.” Not having Palm Beach County public officials at that discussion would be like holding a steroids chat without the teammates of Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds.

So I applaud them. It took a great deal of courage for our county commissioners to go to this conference, knowing full well that they’d be criticized by commission hopefuls such as Karl Dickey, who has suggested checking them for tan lines when they return.

I mean, c’mon, Karl. Some of that tanning will certainly be warranted. A golf outing is actually part of the schedule, and there may be some accidental tanning during the early moments of the sunset dinner cruise.

Fertile ground for ideas

I think you just need to trust that our commissioners are working hard, instead of imagining the worst, which would be that Commissioners Jeff Koons, Karen Marcus, Steve Abrams and Shelley Vana are there to take advantage of the resort’s “fertile turtle package” – a pituitary gland-stimulating couples massage combined with fertility-promoting aromatherapy and a “special offer for couples who actually conceive during their visit.”

Ugh. Now look what you made me do: Ruin everybody’s breakfast.

Are you happy? All this distrust of your public officials has led to a visual that will take hours to erase.

So just take a few deep breaths. Calm down. It’s no big deal. Our commissioners are just learning how to get by in these tough times by spending a few days at a beachfront resort in Southwest Florida.

It’s not as if they’ve disappeared to Argentina.


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