One of my many chores at the Chronicle over the years was editor of Sound Off.
Think about that for a second. Yes, Sound Off has an editor.
As crazy and at times a little unhinged the Sound Off calls are, you should see the stuff we didn’t run.
Sometimes callers would bait us. If I saw this once I saw it a thousand times:
“I DARE you to print this!”
Surprisingly, that tactic rarely worked.
It didn’t then. It doesn’t work now.
Occasionally someone sends me a screenshot of a politician’s social media that is designed to boil my blood. It usually works and my first reaction is to fire off a blog to call out the politician for being such a dupe.
That’s exactly what happened Wednesday. Three people sent me screenshots of a politician’s social media that included a truly offensive post, and I was ready to broil him in today’s blog.
Instead, I hung a picture of my parents on the wall of our new house. And that calmed me down.
I want to make a point. I’m still going to write about the politician’s offensive post, but not in a reactionary way. Writing while angry is rarely smart.
The Just Wright Citrus conversation this week regarding Commissioner Diana Finegan’s proposed resolution on illegal immigration was lively and intense. Most of it, entirely polite and on topic. Some comments weren't and I had to reel them in, letting readers know in a private message that we don’t condone impolite behavior here.
I forget that people hop on and off this blog and others like a trolley. They’re a little surprised when I say they can’t accuse someone of having a mental deficiency simply because he or she has a differing political opinion. They write the same thing in other places, and no one flags it.
I prefer free-wheeling debate. Here’s the thing though: I also want this debate to have value. Decision-makers, such as county commissioners, read this blog. They read your comments. It helps sway their opinions.
These decision-makers are turned off by rude behavior, as they should be. There is just way too much of that in our lives.
I realize not everyone agrees with this. One of the people who sent me the politician’s social media is constantly on my case about this and that. He’s the ultimate, “I DARE you to print this” blog participant.
Early on, while still formulating what Just Wright Citrus should be, I had many conversations with local political types whom I’ve known and trusted for years. One who is tightly connected had this advice: Don’t pick on a specific person without a broader reason.
That’s the one I struggle with the most. I want to call out these ninnies simply for being offensive; after a while, though, it serves little purpose other than allowing others to pile on.
I mentioned Wednesday that citizens are really on the County Commission’s case these days but with no consistent message, other than “you’re wrong and incompetent.”
One place we're specific is the library mess. The Library Guy Gang took the early lead, but level-headed Citrus County citizens roared back. Today, John “Library Guy” Labriola is a joke. His followers are dwindling. Citrus County citizens now control the library message, as they should.
By keeping the conversation focused on doing what’s right, staying factual and not resorting to emotion, citizens encourage commissioners to follow suit. That’s the goal, right? Local government representing the interests of citizens? Healthy debate that represents all views?
Or is winning an argument more important?
I’m going to get to that politician with the offensive social media post, probably in the next few days. When I have more of a point other than the politician has no class.
— The county had a site dedication Wednesday morning for the new animal shelter in Lecanto. County Administrator Steve Howard told me the Betz Farm sale and animal shelter funding are no longer connected.
Howard concluded what we’ve noted here several times: Holding up the animal shelter in hopes of selling a totally separate tract of property made no sense.
That said, it’s another $6 million the county hadn’t planned to spend that it now is looking to spend. I cringe when he says it, but Howard refers to these funding mysteries as “f-bombs.”
If anyone can figure this out, it’s that guy. We’ll be watching.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.