Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Regular Citizen or Gadfly?

It’s Friday and I’m in a quirky mood.  So with that admission…..

I was reading Tia Mitchell’s article on the City Council hearing on Trail Ridge Landfill in today’s TU and she mentioned there were a few citizen observers who weighed in.  Her first example was Martha Shirko.  That name sounded so familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out why.  So I googled her name.  But is Martha really just a regular citizen or one of several “gadflies” (Tia’s term for some other speakers on her blog of the meeting)? 

Based on my Google results, it appears she is a regular at many government meetings throughout Duval County – and she certainly is quoted in the press quite a bit. 

For instance, here’s Martha Shirko on City Council’s Sunshine Law issues:

Retired city resident Martha Shirko is a faithful follower of council meetings. She has seen plenty of council members leaving at once to meet with lobbyists or chatting among themselves before, during and after main council and committee meetings.

“I’ve personally talked to about five of them that the perception is they are breaking the Sunshine Law. Whether they are or not, I can’t say,” Shirko said. “But I’ve tried to impress upon them that my perception is my reality, and it just doesn’t look good.”

Here’s a quote from Ms. Shirko at one the DCSB meetings she attended: 

Ms. Martha Shirko was very excited about our new Superintendent, Joseph Wise and his 100-day plan. Ms. Shirko has high expectations for him. Thanked each Board member for voting for Mr. Wise. Get your running shoes on as I will hold Mr. Wise’s feet to the fire. You should expect a fast closing of the achievement gap as he has extraordinary people skills.

Here she is after a JEA meeting on increasing rates:

Southside resident Martha Shirko said while in general she doesn’t like higher rates, she understood JEA’s rationale and said she supported the hike.

Ms. Shirko at the groundbreaking for the new Main Library:

“(I’m) not totally convinced it’s going to happen until the first wall goes up,” skeptic Martha Shirko said after the groundbreaking. “We can have a kick off … until you pay the people that put up the walls, (money) can be diverted.”

Here’s Martha on Cecil Field:

“We have two administrations that have totally out and out lied to the citizens of Jacksonville” about what can be built around Cecil Field, said Southside resident Martha Shirko, referring to Peyton and predecessor John Delaney. “They use the law when they want to use the law to suit their needs.”

Kind of like looking in a “Where’s Waldo?” book, isn’t it?  Every page that you turn, if you look closely, there’s Martha Shirko.

As it turns out, Martha isn’t just your ordinary citizen – she’s a political activist – or more accurately in Tia’s terms – a gadfly.  Maybe even one with a capital G.  lol.


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