Stopped by Liberty Park on Wednesday afternoon for a chat with some friends.
They were members of the Citrus Coffee Coalition, folks who got together a few years ago to rail against the then-president.
I met them in 2019 during the New York Times debacle and wrote a story about the group for the Chronicle. Occasionally I’ll see a few of them here and there, at county commission meetings or attending rallies.
As Just Wright Citrus began to gain traction, and a growing number of people in Citrus County were interested in where this was going, I knew I wanted to start getting the message out not just on the blog but in person, so I reached out to Coffee Coalition organizer Dale Pray and asked if I could give my pitch.
I love little groups like the Coffee Coalition. Just ordinary folks with a common interest, happy to get together every so often for fellowship and discussion about the news of the day.
I told them we needed their help. And I told them why.
Badgering Citrus County commissioners has become sport. Some criticism is fair, some is over the top, but it’s fairly consistent. And, frankly, I don’t get it. Sure, we’d like to be further along in a lot of areas, but it’s not like the county is going down the sewer. Where’s all this anti-county government angst coming from?
I’ll tell you what I suggested to the Coffee Coalition gang. At Tuesday’s county commission meeting, walk up to the lectern during open to the public, state your name and say something like this:
And then sit down.
I’m not Peter Pollyanna or saying our local governments are faultless. Commissioners earn criticism as much as praise.
But we want them to succeed, right? All of these commissioners were elected with a lot of public support, especially in 2020. I doubt the county has suddenly turned on them.
Look. County commissioners are big guys and gals who don’t need Just Wright Citrus defending their battles. I'm just trying to steer the conversation a little away from ugly and more encouraging. Our local decision-makers could use it.
I’m hearing from Citrus County government types who are getting hammered by individuals taking a hand grenade approach to finding dirt under every rock. They make broad, wide ranging public records requests in the hopes of finding some nuggets to justify their anti-whatever narrative.
It’s guilt by inference. And it’s just plain wrong.
We should make sure our elected leaders know they don’t have to listen to such nonsense. I mean, think logically about it. If all they hear is how awful they are, and never hear from the rest of us unless we want something, commissioners may conclude the criticism is correct and then bad decisions follow.
Regardless of what you think of their job performance, what’s the harm of saying thanks? Can we please drop our cynicism just enough to be civil with elected leaders? Would it kill us to give these hard-working men and women of the county commission and school board a “way to go!” every so often?
That was my challenge to the Citrus Coffee Coalition and expect it as a constant Just Wright Citrus theme. Good things will happen once our elected officials realize we have their backs.
(The Just Wright Citrus speaker’s bureau is now open. If interested, send me an email: email@example.com.)
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.