City leaders set sights on inauguration

Published: Monday, January 19, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 11:47 p.m.

It seems as if half of Gainesville residents or at least half of its political leaders are in D.C. now for the inauguration of Barack Obama as president.

Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and city commissioners Lauren Poe, Thomas Hawkins and Jeanna Mastrodicasa are among the city officials there.

Mastrodicasa said the highlight of her trip will be the Beastie Boys concert she plans to attend.

Meanwhile, Alachua County commissioners Cynthia Chestnut and Paula DeLaney spent a few minutes after last week's commission meeting talking to each other about their plans for parties and events in Washington.

On Friday, County Manager Randall Reid sent staff an e-mail saying he's taking a few vacation days to attend the inauguration at his own expense.

"I'm just amazed at the number of people from Gainesville who are going. It's exciting," Chestnut said.

Many of the local residents who are at the inauguration will be blogging about their experiences on The Sun's Web site,

A GATOR STATEMENT: Nobody can ever question the dedication of Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson to the University of Florida Gators.

At last week's meeting, he wore a pair of britches that would make a golfer wince khakis with Gator head logos all over them in honor of the recent football national championship. He also wore a Gator tie.

The outfit drew comments from fellow commissioners and others, but Pinkoson was resolute.

"I'm making a statement," Pinkoson said.

DRINKING DEBATE: Frank Bracco, a University of Florida student, gave two city commissioners who work for the University of Florida and Santa Fe College a little bit of a hard time about a proposed ordinance to curb underage drinking at bars.

"We could ask them what their students say about underage drinking," Bracco said. "I know quite a few of Commissioner (Lauren) Poe's students, and I know they participate in underage drinking."

Poe teaches dual enrollment high school students for Santa Fe College.

Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodicasa, the assistant vice president of student affairs at the University of Florida, didn't get away easily either.

"I'm sure Commissioner Mastrodicasa's husband, when he was here at UF, could tell quite a few stories about underage drinking," Bracco said, to which Mastrodicasa laughed and looked slightly embarrassed.

However, Poe slipped in a response later.

"Just a few hours ago I was having a discussion with my American government students about the lack of participation that we traditionally see with our younger folks ... and it's good to see that trend is being reversed tonight," Poe said. "We hope that you keep it up with other issues of consequence beyond ones that relate to alcohol or having fun."

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