As loyal Just Wright Citrus readers know, I view county commission email on a regular basis, often picking one commissioner for a week’s worth.
I was perusing Commissioner Jeff Kinnard’s email from last week and came across the usual assortment of criticisms and praise that commissioners are likely to receive from constituents.
It can get a little over the top in the days just before and the day after a contentious issue is heard at a county commission meeting. Last week was the library display deal, which ended when three commissioners – Holly Davis, Ruthie Davis Schlabach and Jeff Kinnard – voted to keep things as they are and not give in to the haters.
So you’d expect those on the losing side to give ‘em the old, “I voted for you but never will again!” speech. There was some of that.
Others went to places I’m not used to seeing.
My God…it’s embarrassing as a Citrus Countian to know residents of this community would write such personal attacks to their elected officials.
How bad? I’m not going to repeat it. Their criticisms of the three commissioners went far beyond a library display. It was deeply personal and attacking.
Let me put it this way: I never would have allowed anyone to post that about a commissioner on the Just Wright Citrus page. (Better yet, I know you never would have posted it.)
Hey, disagree with the vote but let’s bring a little civility here, OK? These commissioners are our neighbors as well as politicians.
It’s as if these people don’t know the county at all.
Aha. And there lies the problem. The haters think this is who we are.
I make it a habit to not read haters’ blogs and newsletters. What they write has nothing to do with me. But people send me stuff and boy it all falls into the same theme: People saying ugly things and demanding action based on some outcry from the community that doesn’t actually exist in real life.
And, from speaking with numerous people, this appears to be somewhat organized. It may resemble clowns in a tiny car on the outside, but apparently this disruption is widespread.
There are people in Citrus County, such as our esteemed email writers, whose apparent focus in life is to create hell for the local government. I don’t mean in a fun way, the way we’ve always given government hell. I mean giving the government HELL at every turn.
Hell to the school board. Hell to the county government. Hell to the supervisor of elections. Hell to everyone who doesn’t support their views on how Citrus County should be run.
You know what they don’t talk about? Bringing groups together. Solving problems. Success. Loving our neighbors. I know that’s corny, but that’s how Citrus County raised me. Isn’t that part of our charm? We embrace corny!
The haters embrace turmoil. They’re scrambling at the moment with a tactic they believe is working. I highly question that. Maybe in their small but loud circles. The rest of us are going through our days, doing the best we can.
One more thing then I’m done.
County commissioners are big boys and girls who don’t need me coming to their defense. But I know someone who should: Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr.
Kitchen can’t stand this stuff when it’s directed at him. One thing that drove Kitchen crazy during the New York Times debacle occurred when The Washington Post picked up on the story. Suddenly places like Des Moines, Iowa were sending emails to Citrus County commissioners telling them they're backward idiots.
Kitchen isn’t getting the hate email in the library issue because he voted on their side. But he’s the chairman and de facto spokesman for the county commission. Kitchen should stand up on the board’s behalf against this name-calling nonsense, because it has no place in the conversation.
Hey Citrus County: We need to raise the bar of civil discourse. We need to raise it now.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.