With a large crowd expected Tuesday morning for the county commission turnpike extension talk, and a county commission afternoon meeting to follow, seems like a good time to go over the public speaking rules.
It’s actually pretty simple. You get 3 minutes at the microphone, or the coveted 5 minutes if speaking on behalf of an organization and the county has a letter on file stating so.
Most go for the 3-minute variety. And I never really paid much attention to the 5-minute speakers until recently.
Of course, it was Library Guy who got my attention.
Library Guy is now getting the 5-minute treatment at the mic. You may wonder what organization exists that wants Library Guy, a man who espouses hatred for others not like him, as its public spokesman.
Well, It’s MassResistance, the anti-gay hate group that bragged last month how its hero Library Guy defeated the leftist Citrus County government. (Forgetting, apparently, that it had done no such thing. Facts! Oops!)
Library Guy is president of the Citrus County chapter of Florida MassResistance. We know this because the president of the Citrus County chapter of Florida MassResistance gave the county a signed letter stating so.
Except — darn facts again! — there is NO Florida MassResistance, so apparently he’s making it up. Shocking.
Before we go there, a little about the 5-minute setup.
This is what the county ordinance states:
“Each individual representing an organization shall file written authorization with the Clerk to the Board indicating that the organization has appointed such individual to speak on its behalf. The authorization must be signed by the organization’s President or Secretary. The authorization will be effective for one year unless amended or revoked by the organization.”
Boiling that down:
— A letter from the organization saying that person is appointed to speak on its behalf.
— Signed by the organization’s president or secretary.
The clerk of court’s website has links to these organization letters. The list is the sort of thing you’d expect: United Way, Citrus Springs Civic Association, Homosassa River Restoration Project etc.
Many of these groups provided proof of nonprofit status or their state corporate papers, or both.
Generally, these are community organizations, specialized clubs or business groups that ask for the additional 2 minutes because they are an umbrella organization and speak for many.
Back to Library Guy. Here is what his letter to Clerk of Courts Angela Vick states:
“I am the chairman of the Citrus County chapter of Florida MassResistance, a branch of the international pro-family organization MassResistance. Please allow this letter to serve as my letter on file with the Citrus County Clerk’s Office entitling me to five minutes to speak on behalf of my organization at public meetings of all Board of County Commissioners boards.”
And he signed it.
So, let’s look at the criteria to see if it fits.
Well, right off the bat this one fails. There is no letter from MassResistance giving Library Guy authority to speak on its behalf. The organization’s president or secretary didn’t sign it.
And if there’s a Florida chapter, even the organization itself doesn’t acknowledge it:
“We now have state chapters or affiliates in California, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Georgia, Maine, Maryland and North Carolina,” according to the MassResistance website I viewed Sunday.
Oh man. It’s one thing to brag about being president of the local chapter of a national hate group, it’s another thing to MAKE IT UP.
Look. The county has a lot going on and the 5-minute speaking rule won’t grab a lot of attention. But the rule clearly isn’t followed in the Library Guy’s case. Following his logic, I could send a letter to the clerk demanding 5 minutes at the county commission because I’m president of the Citrus County branch of Save the Whales. Ridiculous, right? (For the record, I’m not making fun of whales.)
Library Guy shouldn’t get the 5 minutes unless (I can’t believe I’m saying this), MassResistance gives its specific blessing, as the county ordinance states.
This isn’t rocket science. Let's be grownups. Three minutes as an individual, five minutes if representing a group. I doubt any of the commissioners will interfere with Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr.’s running of the meeting, but right is right.
And this isn’t.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.