Politics invaded the Inverness City Council chambers Tuesday night and it wasn't pretty.
First, Labriola Guy, aka Library Guy, displayed his ignorance for all to see by suggesting that the city should not approve affordable housing apartments because they attract Democrats.
“We don’t need to increase our crime levels,” he said. “We don’t need the moral degradation that Democrats bring. Let’s not do things to attract more Democrats.”
Back to him in a minute.
Later, Councilman Dave Ryan, running for re-election in Seat 1 against Crystal Lizanich and Labriola Guy, said the council isn’t to blame for criticism of cost overruns at the Depot District project.
The blame, he said, lies with the former city manager (he didn’t name him, I’m guessing it’s Frank DiGiovanni and not Bruce Banning).
“We never had a city manager who presented all the facts,” Ryan said. “We didn’t always get the right answers, or the truthful answers.”
Mayor Bob Plaisted took it a step further, heaping it all at DiGiovanni’s feet.
“This council does not micromanage,” he said. “This council pays big bucks to leadership that will be honest, have the integrity to tell them honestly what’s going on and why. And having them have knowledge of that so it can be discussed. And so many things were never discussed. Trust me when I tell you that. I get furious when I think of it.”
Plaisted called for the city council to conduct a forensic audit of “what took place” prior to the current administration.
“We cannot put this to bed until that’s done,” he said.
Oh my, where to start.
I didn’t make it to the meeting, but I received the video Wednesday after my phone blew up Tuesday night from a small group of folks who are keenly interested in the Inverness elections.
Can I suggest that we sort of breathe a little? Stop looking under every rock. Local elections should be about an exchange of ideas, not playing gotcha.
For example, it’s generally frowned upon for an incumbent to use his official position to campaign. You wouldn’t see the sheriff, for example, in his green sheriff’s uniform campaigning because that would seem like he’s using his elected position to gain votes.
The same holds true for city council, county commission or school board. It would be inappropriate for a sitting politician to use his/her time on the dais to defend campaign criticism or toot his/her horn.
Some people are upset that both Ryan and Plaisted are doing that. Well, c’mon. This is a small city that hasn’t seen a contested election in over a decade. Maybe not everyone has the rules down quite right. If those two want to do a little politicking from their seats, so be it as long as they extend the same courtesy to their opponents.
Still, Plaisted is clearly annoyed at having to run for re-election against Max Schulman and he doesn’t mind expressing it during his mayor’s portion of the agenda.
“Lately things are being said about this council. I take umbrage with that,” he said.
Speaking of umbrage, there’s Labriola Guy, who I’m beginning to seriously think has issues.
Here’s a sampling of his prose from Tuesday night:
“I come from an area that was overwhelmingly Democratic. I grew up in South Florida and those areas are high crime…There’s moral degradation when you have Democrats that become the majority. We don’t want to change Inverness into a Democrat majority or even a purple area because that does bring down property values. It brings down our moral character when Democrats come to dominate an area, or even just grow in their numbers.”
Got that? Labriola Guy — the poster child for exclusion — is warning us against “Democrats” who bring down Citrus County’s moral character.
Ryan wrote on his Facebook page:
“...Labriola made a vile and hate filled speech and just made it clear that he has no place in any public office. I have never heard anything so disgusting. This time it was against Democrats and the last time it was against LGBTQ, where does it end if you start discrimination it does not end.”
By the way, Labriola Guy says he’s campaigning door-to-door. Some advice: Don’t answer the knock.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.