Key West City Commissioner Tony Yaniz needs to get over himself.
He wasn't elected to a throne where he can rule by heavy hand and intimidation. He is one of seven voting members of the City Commission, no more and no less.
But now slightly more than two years after he was elected in October 2011 to a four-year term, Yaniz has shown time and again that he believes he knows better than anyone else about most issues -- and has shown a remarkable lack of respect for those with whom he disagrees.
The contempt shown toward some of his commission colleagues -- specifically Mayor Craig Cates -- and city staff needs to change if he has any hope of being perceived as effectively serving the people.
The latest flare-up came this month, when, in a letter to Human Resources Director Samantha Farist, a husband and wife accused City Manager Bob Vitas of in appropriate touching during the 2012 Fantasy Fest parade. Although Farist should not have dismissed the matter out of hand as she apparently did, Yaniz should not have launched himself into the issue. But he did.
He said in an e-mail, "It is my prerogative as an elected city official to request information from you, and just so we are clear, your failure to respond is, in my opinion, insubordination."
He might want to take a look at the city charter. It states commissioners "shall deal with city officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the manager solely through the manager and neither the commission nor its members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately."
There is an exception for a commissioner wanting to investigate something -- whatever that means because the charter is vague on that -- but bullying e-mails do not equate to an investigation. The right thing to do would have been to request an investigation during a City Commission meeting and let the full commission weigh in.
Then there was November, when he quit the Rotary Club of Key West in the face of being kicked out after he walked out of a speech being made by Cates. He didn't just walk out; he went to great pains to upstage the mayor by walking out behind Cates as he spoke.
Then there was the time last August when state Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad took the unusual step of traveling to Key West specifically to hear concerns about the North Roosevelt Boulevard reconstruction.
Yaniz interrupted and shouted down Prasad during a public meeting, not letting the DOT chief answer questions or expand on why the roadwork was being done a certain way. The spectacle was so bad that Cates had to apologize to Prasad for Yaniz's behavior.
Yaniz was elected with nearly 70 percent of the vote in his district, so he certainly has his supporters. But he was not anointed royalty, which he appears to believe he is.
Elected officials should be held to high standards, and that includes respecting all voices around you. Yaniz has failed in that regard several times. It's time for the commissioner to look in the mirror and decide if he wants to be remembered as a valued contributor to the board he sits on, or as a bully who got his way only through threats, coercion and purposefully overstepping his authority.