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The Art of War

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Both the charter-review task force and county commissioners somewhat arrogantly decided this was an issue for them alone to decide, and that Lacasa was an unwelcome intruder into the process. Part of that attitude stems from the historic tensions between county commissioners and state legislators. Another part can be attributed to Lacasa's behavior. "I think there would have been more openness to consider his proposal if it didn't come with a threat," Sorenson remarks. "When someone tries to shove something down my throat, it doesn't taste very good."

Whatever the reason, the charter-review task force and the county commission simply ignored Lacasa. They reminded him they were in charge of the process and there was nothing he could do about it.

Well, they were wrong. None of them believed Lacasa would brazenly use his considerable clout in the state legislature to rewrite the state constitution to get his strong-mayor proposal on the county ballot. County commissioners came to this fight with a switchblade while Lacasa showed up with a Howitzer. Not only did they underestimate Lacasa's resolve, they refused to back down even after he made it clear he was ready to use the big gun.

"The offer [to remove the constitutional amendment from the state ballot in return for placing a strong-mayor proposal on the county ballot] was open to them for a very long time," Lacasa said earlier this month. "I tried to get meetings with some of the commissioners to talk to them personally about this, and some of them wouldn't even meet with me. Some still refuse to meet with me. They have shown me tremendous disrespect, which is why I have no intention of working with them on this issue any longer. If this is the way they treat a state representative -- a person who holds elective office -- then I can't even imagine how they treat the general public."

Attorney Dan Paul agrees that commissioners made a colossal mistake. "The commission handled Lacasa very badly," he says. "They gave him the back of their hand. They were very foolish."

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Jim DeFede
Contact: Jim DeFede