Bullock and Florensa raised the bar of public service.
Longboat Key residents saw the departure in January of two of its most outstanding town employees in the modern era with the retirements of Town Manager David Bullock and Public Works Director Juan Florensa.
Bullock and Florensa defied and dispelled the common, derisive charge of “government bureaucrats.” Instead, they exemplified the highest meaning of public servants. In all of our time observing government officials over the decades, Bullock and Florensa demonstrated extraordinary levels of responsiveness, candor and honesty rarely seen among public officials.
As part of the natural order of things, public officials and the press typically have a relationship of competing interests, one that often devolves into an adversarial relationship. But the two sides also can co-exist as responsible professionals with mutual trust.
In Bullock and Florensa, Longboat Key had two leaders of high integrity and professionalism. Whenever they dealt with the Longboat Observer, they responded quickly to requests for information. They were candid, honest and helpful and created an atmosphere of respect. Government officials and the press try not to think of each other as friends. But with Bullock and Florensa, it was difficult not to see them that way. Talk about two nice guys.
We must give a special shout-out to Florensa, who served in his role as public works director three times as long as Bullock served as town manager. While Bullock brought in a steady, trustworthy leadership style to Town Hall at a time of distress, Florensa, in his 17 years, likewise created and led a staff that was always at the ready and on the spot whenever and wherever needed — cleaning up after storms; setting up and taking down for Freedom Fest celebrations, Kiwanis Gourmet Lawn Parties and concerts in the park; planting flags along Gulf of Mexico Drive in honor of 9/11; repairing broken water mains; and on and on.
Our thanks to Bullock and Florensa. They made Longboat a better place. They should be remembered for setting the standards on Longboat Key for outstanding public service.