I love a good zoning fight.
My earliest experience in covering local government was in college, writing stories about the local city council.
Government is a lot of things that people don’t like, but zoning is another animal. It’s personal. It’s neighbor vs. neighbor (or, more likely neighbor vs. developer). These are folks fighting for their privacy, peace of life, their manner of living.
I’ve covered zoning meetings that went for hours and got quite emotional. Sometimes crowds leave happy, sometimes not so much.
But it’s real. If nothing else, zoning affects real people in their actual lives. Property rights debates are personal.
Unlike the library smackdown, which is a lot of hot air about nothing.
I’m expecting a big crowd gunning for bear at Tuesday’s county commission meeting when the library governing board — five commissioners, one council member each from Crystal River and Inverness — will choose five members of the library advisory board.
Don’t know about you, but I’m way over this. And tired of it. Ready to move on and, in some ways, give up. Even on this beautiful Citrus County Monday, it’s easy to feel defeated.
The Library Guy side is so full of derision and contempt, at some point you just want to flee the room. How did such hateful hearts develop?
Meanwhile, the pro-library side has its self-righteousness as well. Everyone is talking about doing what the people want. As if it’s that easy.
Both sides quoting Jesus. I wonder if any of those people actually know who he is.
Over the weekend Library Guy sent an email to the county commissioners where he was ugly toward the five sitting advisory board members who seek reappointment. One he called a “longtime leftist activist.”
Library Guy believes his cause is so just it’s OK to take shots at people who volunteer to make our lives better. Who’s his next target? The Key Training Center? CASA? United Way?
At this point, I’d be surprised — horrified, actually — if Commissioners Holly Davis, Jeff Kinnard and Ruthie Davis Schlabach give an inch to this bullying. Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. has already shown himself off the rails on this issue, and what Commissioner Scott Carnahan comes up with is anyone’s guess.
But look here folks: Taking on meanies is tough and it’s exhausting. It is so easy to say, “Fine, whatever, no Pride displays! Now leave us alone.” We can’t and here’s why:
— Regardless of Tuesday’s vote, the Library Guy Gang will continue causing trouble. They thrive on stuff like this. THRIVE ON IT. They're connection to a national hate group only shows that. Any thought that we can somehow compromise or negotiate is not based on reality.
— It’s worth the fight. Simple as that. Our community is worth the fight to protect it from people who mean to do it harm.
I mentioned last week and I’ll say it again: Community leaders should speak out against this attack on our integrity. Everyone gripes (rightly) about the dysfunction on the county commission, county administrator, loss of senior staff etc. Let those same people walk to the microphone Tuesday and implore our elected leaders to stand up for decency.
This is a very exciting time in Citrus County and a divisive one, but that’s OK. So long as we’re debating the turnpike, or growth, or workforce housing, or lousy traffic lights — all significant to our lives. Like a zoning case, these issues have tremendous impacts on our daily lives.
The library stuff is just noise. It means nothing and it goes nowhere. Citrus County libraries are in great shape, overseen by dedicated staff and volunteers, enjoyed by thousands of patrons like myself who find respite and comfort among all those books.
Let’s hope libraries soon return to a place of tranquility.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.