Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Where Was George?

The immediacy of its importance may be diminishing as the county loosens the noose around beach residents, but Nicole Lozare has it exactly wrong in Wednesday's Pensacola News Journal when she writes of Tuesday's second beach residents' meeting:
"Escambia County Administrator George Touart spoke publicly before beach residents for the first time since the hurricane. Touart, who was unable to attend the first meeting because of health issues, was criticized by beach residents who blamed him for beach restrictions they deemed unfair. Several residents also accused Touart of giving preferential treatment to Portofino condominiums and other island businesses."

It is true George Touart didn't speak at the first, infamous, beach residents' meeting at the Methodist Church. But many who were there say they say they saw him at the meeting. In fact, I'm one of them.

Unless he has an identical twin, I saw and spoke very briefly with George Touart that evening. He was stage left, behind the dais and out of sight of the audience. While I watched, he appeared to be orchestrating the show literally from behind the scenes, talking with speakers before they went on stage and afterwards, as well.

Unless Lozare is using an incredibly crabbed -- one might almost say Clintonesque -- definition of the word "attended," I'd say he was in attendance at that meeting. He just didn't choose to show his face.

And by the way -- he didn't look any sicker than any of the rest of us.

This isn't the first time Nicole Lozare has covered for George. The day after that first meeting, she wrote in the passive voice that he was reached "by telephone...after" the meeting. Then she repeated some innocuous PR quote cooked up for the digestive system of the public.

Now that I'm finally ending my evacuation saga, I'll have more on this soon, especially about the substance of the two meetings. For the moment, though, let me just raise two questions about that first meeting in September:

"Where Was George?"

"Why Didn't Nicole Lozare Accurately Report His Whereabouts?"

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