Have you heard the rumor that the Gateway Services District is planning to re-brand the community complete with developing a new logo?

Actually… we started the rumor.

And, actually .. it isn’t just a rumor.

On February 1, 2018, the GSCDD staff will officially recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the district award a contract worth $50,250 to Land Architects for the re-brand effort.

“But Jeff,” you say. “Isn’t it a little arrogant to proceed with something like that without even consulting the community first?”

You make a good point. Well done.

I had planned to pen a full-blown article detailing the ins and outs of the proposal and publish it today. However, after speaking with multiple members of the Board of Supervisors, I decided to save your time and my e-ink… because it seems the measure will be dead on arrival.

The public backlash against the idea on social media has been strong. While the Supervisors I spoke with do want to consider updating the look of Gateway’s entrances, the entire concept of creating a new brand was something the Supervisors learned about on the Internet – not in a district meeting.

Traditionally, the way things work in Gateway is that if the town was going to get a new look and new logo, the board members would be given a heads-up first.

As one Supervisor put it, “somebody must be feeling their Wheaties”.

Here’s where things stand right now:

– Nothing has been officially approved by the Supervisors.
– District staff have published documentation detailing the re-brand proposal.
– For the $50,250 all the district would receive would be drawings and renderings. As far as I can tell no actual physical signage comes with it. Just the logos, fonts, etc which would give the district what it needs to produce signage.
– District staff have documented their intent to formally recommend all this to the board on Feb 1.

That last point is important because the staff seems to know not to recommend anything stupid to the board using this process. And for that reason, staff recommendations are normally rubber stamped.

In fact sometimes the staff will go out and spend a very large sum of money buying stuff without even getting approval, and then they’ll come to the Supervisors at the next district meeting and ask for what is jokingly (and repeatedly) referred to as “approval after the fact”.

So far I haven’t noticed any abuse of this specific trust. The staff have demonstrated urgent and timely need for these unplanned purchases to date. But my point is the trust is there to basically approve staff recommendations by default.

It goes without saying that it would be totally inappropriate for a district staff member to initiate a logo change for Gateway on their own. On the other hand if a Supervisor was the one who kick-started the process, while it’s not much better in terms of public involvement, at least from a technical standpoint they are a chosen representative of the people and would have standing to do something like that.

So we’ve put in a public records request in an attempt to gain some clarity of who we have to thank — because this whole thing came from somebody and frankly, we’re curious to find out who had the audacity.

In addition, we hope to learn how it came to be that a firm was put in a position to be given such an important contract without the GSCDD even asking for rival bids.

We will do all we can to get answers and report them. I don’t know how quickly my public records request will be processed, but I do know that this topic is on the agenda for February 1 at 4:45pm. (Beware if you’d like to attend the meeting in person, however, that the agenda times are a general guideline and the meetings flow at their own pace. So it might come up for discussion at 4:30pm, 5:20pm, or another time that day.)

We definitely will have at least some clarity by the end of Thursday’s district meeting and we will update the community as soon as possible.

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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