Tuesday was a crazy busy county commission day, with commissioners and the sheriff reaching common budget ground and the board voting 3-2 in favor of the Meadowcrest affordable apartments.
We’ll get to those soon but didn’t want to lose this in the hoopla:
The three commissioners who will still be around after November — Ruthie Davis Schlabach, Holly Davis and Jeff Kinnard — put their foot down on Library Guy and friends by refusing to budge one inch on the library display non-issue.
And they left no doubt that this closes the door on the Library Guy Gang’s attempted intrusion into our collective soul. OK, maybe not that extreme but you get the picture.
It’s been eight months since we first introduced Library Guy to the Citrus County public. Here was a South Floridian, who lost his cozy job with the Miami-Dade government because of his hateful views, wishing to spread the same cheer through Citrus.
I resisted writing about him. I knew, from experience, that if you give someone like that a crack in the door he’ll bust it down, and that’s exactly what happened when board Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. encouraged his behavior.
That allowed Library Guy’s small number of loud, aggressive followers to see an opening, pushing hard to fill up the all-volunteer library advisory board with their ilk. In the p.r. blunder of the year, Library Guy bragged about his association with a recognized hate group.
Thanks to Crystal River Councilman Ken Brown, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to load up the advisory board. Their final hope was to change the policy to prevent certain displays in the library. Anything to barge through that door.
Here’s how it went:
Say what you will about Kitchen, but he’s a brilliant politician on the county commission. He knows the best way to get out in front of an issue is to make the motion, getting a (nearly guaranteed) second from Commissioner Scott Carnahan. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday.
He also announced immediately he wanted a roll call vote (which is nothing but grandstanding unless it's a vote of significance, and that’s rare). So, right off: Kitchen is putting the other three on notice they’ll have to vote no in front of all these Library Guy Gang members.
The policies are basic straight-forward stuff. Nothing unusual. Library Guy didn’t bother to show up at the library advisory board meetings when these policies were hammered out. He instead wrote emails to his favorite commissioners suggesting that anything regarding LGBTQ be banned from displays.
Kitchen’s suggestion was something similar. He said displays could not violate undefined “community standards” and no displays of “sexual orientation.”
He called this nonsense a “compromise.” A compromise to what exactly? This “issue” isn’t real except in some dark imaginations.
“If this is inserted, it infringes on nobody’s rights,” Kitchen said.
Carnahan chimed in: “I agree with you 100%!”
Schlabach, however, did not. And she let the Library Guy Gang know exactly what she thinks of its tactics.
“We’ve had eight months of this being thrown at us,” she said. “Our public libraries do not have ‘drag queen story hour.’ … I don’t support the molestation or rape of children. … Please stop saying that’s something I support and you’re not going to vote me back in.”
She added: “Today, right now, I probably wouldn’t run again because the things that are said to me are just ridiculous and I don’t know why one person would want this job.”
Kinnard was brief. He supports Library Director Eric Head and the library advisory board, which recommended the policies.
(One of Library Guy’s biggest supporters is Mary Seader, who is running for school board. Seader attended Tuesday’s meeting but left just as Kinnard was about to speak. I heard her mutter, “I can’t take any more,” as she walked past me.)
So when it came time for Kitchen’s roll call, he was on the losing side. A few minutes later, another 3-2 vote followed to adopt an ordinary set of policies for the library, which is how it should be.
I know county commissioners are taking it on the chin from several areas. But let’s please not forget this one.
Schlabach, Davis and Kinnard stood up to bullies who have no idea what our community standards are because they don’t care. Rather than give in to a “compromise,” these three remained firm.
It’s a victory we’ll gladly take.
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