Today’s blog is nothing like the one I planned. And I blame it all on Crystal River Councilman Ken Brown.
See, the idea was pretty cool. Knowing that the library debate would go on for hours, and what would be said had already been said more than a few times in recent months, I had decided to keep a running diary. I would then edit it down to something that makes sense and you, the loyal Just Wright Citrus reader, could relive these exciting moments right along with me.
But as I started to whittle down my notes, I reached an obvious conclusion: This is boring. And depressing in spots. I don’t even want to relive it; why should I drag you along?
Yet, something very special DID happen when the library governing board voted 5-2 to reappoint five members of the library advisory board over this make-believe “issue” of displays. It was a pretty big deal. Let’s break it down some:
— The aforementioned Brown stole the show. The governing board is composed of the five commissioners and one rep from each city: Brown and Inverness Councilwoman Jacquie Hepfer.
Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. never had a chance to get out in front of the appointments, as he prefers to do. That’s because Brown didn’t waste time. Moments after the two hours of public comment concluded, Brown offered a motion to reappoint the five library board members who had done nothing to deserve the boot.
Commissioner Holly Davis provided the support, and that was the only motion ever considered. It was Brown, not the seasoned commissioners, who had the savvy and fortitude to take the bull by the horns.
Early on, Brown made it clear he was here for business. When one of the library haters started using words like “grooming” and “pedophile” to describe commissioners who supported the library, Brown cut in and asked Kitchen to tell the guy to knock it off.
Kitchen did not take kindly to the interruption and told Brown to live with it.
“If you feel threatened, you’re able to leave,” Kitchen said.
So, to wrap: Ken Brown (a) set the ball in motion for a favorable library vote and (b) called out Chairman Kitchen. Both in the same meeting.
Ken Brown: MVP!
— While the vote turned out in their favor, it’s worth noting that Brown, not a commissioner, jumped out of the gate with reappointing the five advisory board members.
Commissioners Holly Davis, Jeff Kinnard and Ruthie Davis Schlabach certainly seemed united that they wouldn’t let hate groups force their hand on the library board. But we’ve seen them seemingly united before only to have it fall apart in heated and confusing debate. Brown’s actions saved us the trouble of testing that unity on Tuesday.
Kitchen and Commissioner Scott Carnahan voted no. We shouldn’t be surprised.
— These library board members have really taken it on the chin from the Library Guy Gang. Just vicious stuff.
I was speaking with Neale Brennan before the meeting. We’ve been friends for 30 years and she gave me the very cool tie I wore Tuesday.
Neale is vice chairwoman of the library board. Here’s what you need to know about Neale. She’s given her soul to this county and then some. After Neale retired, she decided to ease back into community service in a nice, giving way. Like the library board.
Now people are sending emails calling her a pedophile because of a library display that none of the board members had any say in.
These are ordinary volunteers thrust into extraordinary circumstances by people who have zero regard for anyone but their own narrow-minded agenda.
The county commission cannot leave their volunteers out to dry like that. Kitchen would never let anyone take potshots at the county administrator. Why does he allow it for volunteer members of county boards, and why do the other commissioners not come to their aid?
— All that said, Tuesday was a big vote. A moral line was drawn; right won over wrong. Library Guy and his smug pals left unhappy and that’s a good thing.
But they’ll be back. Hope Ken Brown is available.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.