The latest round of the ghost issue known as Citrus County library displays came and went Tuesday with little resolved, but a good indicator that this thing is close to running its course.
Here’s my rundown:
— An impressive number of people showed up at the library advisory board meeting in the morning in Lecanto. About 65-70% were of the ban-the-display crowd.
— A woman sitting next to me held a folder labeled “mass resistance.”
— Not surprisingly, Library Guy and his friends presented wildly misleading information about library displays. They claim to have nearly 1,000 petition signatures to remove the displays. Before anyone goes ga-ga about that petition, we should take a look at what these folks were told about the library before they signed it.
Here's the thing about petitions. They’re rarely straight forward. If I present a case that the county is trying to ruin the minds and souls of our youth by allowing Satanic displays of perverted books and won’t do anything about it — of course that’s going to get signatures. It’s also based on a lie.
— That said, some of the ban-the-display folks are genuinely concerned about Citrus County families and they see potential harm to children with LGBTQ library displays.
They truly sought — not demanded — answers.
“We are all trying to find a solution to a tricky problem,” one woman said.
— Library board members themselves were impressive. (Library Guy later told commissioners the board was dismissive and rude. Absolutely untrue. What is his problem?) The board members took their role seriously and had deep debate before taking a vote.
A board member made a motion directing Library Director Eric Head to develop a display policy that answers the concerns of the folks who attended Tuesday’s meeting. In other words, this was a remove-the-display vote.
Even though this board does nothing more than recommend (hence, “advisory”), most board members did not want to go down that path. The motion was handily defeated.
— Tuesday afternoon, the whole thing played out again with the county commission, because that’s where the real power rests. I won’t get into the weeds more than necessary, but advisory boards are just tune ups for the real discussion at the county commission level.
Not much new during the commission meeting, except for something Commissioner Jeff Kinnard uttered near the end.
Context first: In January, Kinnard cast the tie-breaking vote to kill a motion that would eliminate all displays at county libraries that deal with materials about sexual orientation.
At the time, Kinnard was following good government practice. He was willing to have the matter sent to the library advisory board to come up with a policy on displays, but Commissioner Scott Carnahan and Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. wanted the policy to take effect immediately.
It’s a terrible idea to come up with a policy on the fly. That’s one reason why the county has these advisory boards. They’re composed of people with a deep interest in a specific subject who can help the commission craft policy that makes sense and does no harm.
Cutting through the government talk: Kinnard voted against a display policy in January because it hadn’t come from the advisory board.
He made it clear Tuesday he’s sticking with that plan. Because the advisory board didn’t recommend a policy change about displays, Kinnard said he isn’t voting for one.
—Finally, because there are no coincidences. Tuesday’s commission meeting included a proclamation for National Library Week. Of course.
OK, enough of that. Apologize for the civics lesson. Let’s place Library Guy on the shelf (ha!) until another day, one that will come all too soon.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.