When a citizen applies to be appointed to a committee, it is a VOLUNTEER position. Citizens should be thanked and appreciated for stepping forward and wanting to take time out of their busy lives to be involved in the betterment of Melbourne.
At the Melbourne City Council meeting of Tuesday, March 9, 2021, one such appointment came before the council. The Firefighters Pension Plan Committee had two open seats and John Sboros of Melbourne, FL was the only applicant. A lone councilperson took issue with Mr. Sboros’ application, it was, of course, Mimi Hanley.
Did she begin by saying thank you for your interest in this VOLUNTEER position? No. Ms. Hanley began with condescension; “I don’t feel as though he meets the qualifications needed for this position”.
Ms. Hanley launched into an attack on Mr. Sboros’ experience, spitefully blasting the fact that the applicant had worked as a security guard for Dunkin Doughnuts, as if that were such a lowly position, how dare he allow his shadow to cross her superior path. Ms. Hanley barked out with: what could he possibly contribute to this position, it’s about the pensions for firefighters, these are big decisions that affect families. The tirade was disrespectful to say the least.
One may question Ms. Hanley’s decision making capabilities when it is realized that, while Mr. Sboros may have worked for a time as a security guard, the man worked for more than ten years as a firefighter. The man retired as a Lieutenant firefighter, and with that he would have had a fire-crew working under his command. Mr. Sboros would have had to make life-saving decisions in seconds as his crew went in and out of burning buildings searching for people and pets as they worked to save buildings, cars or whatever else was quickly being erased from the planet in flames.
Anyone who has worked under pressure of this magnitude is certainly qualified to make decisions in the comfort of a boardroom regarding the pension plan for firefighters, even if they don’t have the god-like accounting skills Ms. Hanley often points out that she herself possesses, Mr. Sboros certainly understands the needs of firefighters and their families.
It is worth emphasizing that Ms. Hanley had before her the same information regarding Mr. Sboros’ experience that other members of council had. Why then did she choose to ignore, and even attempt to hide from the public the most important aspect of Sboros’ experience? Ms. Hanley’s handling of Sboros’ application to the Firefighters Pension board shows a complete lack of thoroughness and professionalism.
There were gracious moments though, Mayor Alfrey pointed out to Ms. Hanley the importance of thanking Mr. Sboros for wanting to come forward and VOLUNTEER to be on the Firefighters Pension Plan Committee. In response to Ms. Hanley’s graceless bark of –what could he possibly contribute to this committee– Mayor Alfrey reminded Ms. Hanley that he was indeed a retired firefighter and a Lieutenant and fire-engineer at that.
Council member Minus and council member Debbie Thomas were also gracious in their support of appointing Sboros to the committee. Ms. Minus stated that she had “no problem appointing Mr. Sboros”, and that “we all have to start somewhere”. Ms. Minus further stated that “it’s a learning process”, and that she would “like to give him the opportunity”.
Mrs. Thomas stated that committee members “don’t need to know everything going in, they will learn as they go”. Mrs. Thomas went on to assure everyone that there are attorneys and other members of the committee who do understand the procedures of the committee and that they would be happy to guide Mr. Sboros as he learns the procedures and responsibilities of the board.
John Sboros was handily voted onto the Firefighters Pension Plan Committee with a 6-1 vote, Mimi Hanley being the only vote against the retired firefighter.
Before closing, there is one additional aspect of the Tuesday, March 9 meeting of the Melbourne City Council that I must address. A beautiful new hotel is planned for the Eau Gallie Arts District. Along with this hotel, there is planned a 500-600 space parking garage that may or may not be co-owned with the city, plans are still being worked out. After a 30-40 minute discussion of this 500-600 space parking garage, Ms. Hanley barked out in an exasperated manner–but where are the people from the hotel going to park?
I believe there was a moment of silence in the council chamber, accompanied by head tilting and eye squinting before someone spoke and reminded Ms. Hanley of the 500-600 space parking garage that had been discussed over the previous 30-40 minute period.
Melbourne City Council meetings are held at Melbourne City Hall: 900 E Strawbridge Ave, Melbourne, FL 32901 the 2nd and fourth Tuesday of each month, members of the public are invited to speak at each meeting.