Monday, September 24, 2007

Commissioners Not Responsive?

Seven Of Ten Hendry-Glades Commissioners Fail To Answer Mail

LABELLE, FL. -- Think your county commissioners are responsive to citizen questions or comments?  You might want to rethink that after reading what we found in a simple test of asking all ten Hendry and Glades county commission members a few simple questions.

On August 16, the Sunday Morning News sent email letters to all five Hendry county commission members at their advertised email addresses as listed on the official Hendry County website. We asked:

- with what methods you wish citizens to contact you (i.e. mail, email, phone, fax, through the clerk, etc)
- your preferred method of contact for citizen inquiries
- how often you pick up emails, letters, etc
- whether a citizen should expect a reply from you to their inquiry
- any statement you might want published about how citizens can contact you and/or what kind of items you might be able to help with or facilitate for a citizen or citizens group.

We explained we intend to do a story about "how to contact your elected officials."  One would expect at least a courtesy reply from all commissioners.  No such luck, however.

The Results - Most Commissioners Do Not Respond

Waiting until September 6, after not receiving anything from our August 16 request, the Hendry county administrator's office was contacted and it was explained by staff assistant Judith McElhaney that all emails to county commissioners actually go through assistant county manager Judy Kennington Korf who then forwards them to the commissioners.  McElhaney then kindly said we could send a second request to her and she would then forward the email to the commissioners.

Eleven days later, on September 17, a reply was received from Hendry Commission Chairman Kevin McCarthy.  The other four commissioners did not respond.

We tried the same experiment with the Glades County Commissioners, sending letters on September 13 by email to the published addresses on the Glades county website, or from sources given to us. 

Commissioner Donna Storter Long is the only commissioner in either county to immediately respond to all email messages, and even offered to get us the contact information for all the other Glades commissioners.

Four days later, on September 17 we received a reply via Mary Ann Dotson, Glades County Human Resource Director, from Glades Commission Chairman K.S. "Butch" Jones. Three other Glades commission members have not responded.

The answers from one Hendry and two Glades county commissioners: 

Donna Storter Long - Glades County, the only commissioner to respond timely, says she may be reached through any of the following: 863.675.8850-home phone, 863.673.2661-cell phone, 3345 Coffee Mill Hammock Rd SW, Moore Haven, FL 33471-8417,,  County email address,, personal email address.  (Editor's note:  Commissioner Long has responded to every email we have sent her, usually the same day, the clear winner in responsive government officials.)

Kevin McCarthy - Hendry County, says: "Email is my preferred means of contact, then I can be sure I have the question correct. I can also be reached by phone, although that will probably get you a voice mail. I will answer, or will have the appropriate County Staff answer, an email or a phone call depending on the appropriate action that needs to be taken. I pick up mail once a week, a read emails daily and I listen to voice mails daily, however due to the volume of work and correspondence it may be several days before you get an answer as is evidenced by this response."  Email:

Butch Jones - Glades County, say he prefers communication by mail, fax, email, phone - in that order. He says he picks up messages daily and each message should expect a reply from him.  Contact information: K. S. �Butch� Jones, 863.946.1616-home phone, 863.227.1390-cell phone, 655 Daniels Rd SE, Moore Haven, FL, Home mailing address, P. O. Box 63, Moore Haven, FL 33471-0063.  Email: (Through Mary Ann Dotson),

If any readers have found a way to contact and get a response from the remaining seven Glades and Hendry county commissioners let us know!  And send us your comments on your personal experiences reaching government officials. 


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