In a move that can be described as both authoritarian and hypocritical, District 4 Commissioner Curt Smith has proposed a “civility ordinance” designed to muzzle Commissioners who might question or criticize the expenditures, actions or comments of other Commissioners.
The proposed ordinance appears to be a result of perceived personal slights on the part of Commissioner Smith, after Commissioner Tobia questioned some of his travel expenses and acted in a manner that Smith deemed to be “a discredit to the commission”. For background on Smith’s motivations, please read the story at Florida Today here.
This ordinance is designed to stifle discussion and is a direct assault on the ability of the County Commissioners to do their jobs by being able to freely ask legitimate questions of other Commissioners without fear of financial or legal retribution. The ordinance also contains “rules of decorum” for those members of the public who choose to participate under public comment.
If passed, this ordinance will have a chilling effect on debate between Commissioners in public meetings, and will serve to silence the voice of the voters that elected the Commissioner that runs afoul of the ordinance.
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