By Jim Bleyer
Tallahassee’s lightning-rod mayor, Andrew Gillum, calmly continued to lead his city back to normalcy Wednesday, five days after Hurricane Hermine unleashed her fury on Florida’s Big Bend.
With work crews deployed around the clock, electricity was restored to 92 percent of residences as of 11 a.m. Gillum and the city commission Tuesday agreed to review the municipal utility’s response to the storm and devise strategies to strengthen local hurricane preparedness and infrastructure.
The mayor’s cool demeanor, diplomacy, and actions stood in sharp contrast to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater who continued to embarrass themselves by politicizing the catastrophe. Both are Republicans; the former dashing around the state seeking photo opportunities from obsequious media outlets and the latter pontificating bombast to promote a corporate agenda from his safe perch 250 miles away.
Gillum is a nationally-known Democrat considered to have a bright political future.
“The mayor is focused on helping the citizens of Tallahassee return to their daily routine,” said Jamie Van Pelt, Community Relations Coordinator for the mayor’s office, adding that the mayor would not engage his critics in a war of words.
Scott launched his mud slinging barely two days after Hermine blew through town, then said his criticism was the result of a “misunderstanding.” It didn’t take long for another 180 degree pivot, however.
Meanwhile, Scott and Latvala remain mum about the heavily criticized response to the storm from citizens in Pasco County, a Republican stronghold marked by finger pointing among local governmental entities.