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Palm Bay: Yes, We Have Met And Discussed Issues With A Candidate For Council Seat 4.

In August of last year, we sent our graphics guy up to the meeting of the Palm Bay City Council

We had several issues that he discussed including a failed public records request that was not filled completely by the City and then City Attorney Andrew Lannon. That presentation failed so we sent him up there again armed this time with a full blown graphic presentation on the law, what was required, etc. Lannon admitted no wrong doing, but Councilman Tres Holton attacked our guy from the dais which led to another presentation on what we felt was corruption in the City.

The meeting was long and during a break, our guy decided to leave the meeting and head home.

As he left, he was approached by two men.

One of the men said he was running for City Council to replace Tres Holton. He then said that he appreciated what our guy had said and that he agreed with us. The men and our guy talked for about 10 – 15 minutes. The man explained his background and philosophy. Our guy explained that he did the graphics on Raised on Hoecakes and he invited the man to stop by and read the content.

It was a pleasant conversation and before our guy left he shook hands with the candidate.

The candidate reiterated the he liked what we said about Holton and the City and he wanted to help clean it up. He said that he hoped that he could have our guy’s support.

Our guy explained that we don’t endorse candidates on the site, but if he was elected, we would hold him to the same standard that we held Holton.

The man said he would want nothing less and expected nothing less.

The conversation stuck in our guy’s head to the point where he came back and wrote a draft for a post on it. We never published the draft because we never found a day or incident where it would “fit.” We still have the draft and the record of the conversation from that night, but we just never posted it.

In case you are wondering, that candidate was Kenny Johnson, Jr.

We bring this up because people have made spurious accusations as to whether we are somehow associated with the Gaume campaign. They want to know if we are in cahoots or hiding something.

Up until that night a year ago, we had never heard of Kenny Johnson, Jr.

We had probably had seen Thomas Gaume at City Council meetings, but had never spoken to him privately and he didn’t appear on our radar until he became a candidate.

In short, we didn’t know either man until they stepped into the political spotlight.

We suspect that they weren’t aware of us for the past seven years until we started writing / talking about the City Council and the election campaign.

Why are we writing about this?

There are people out there that are accusing us of being in cahoots with the Gaume campaign.

We have written posts criticizing Gaume’s positions on issues. We have told him that if elected, we would hold him to the same standard that we hold all political figures.

Yet the attacks on us persist.

We think we know why.

Many of the staff here are sports officials – either active or retired. Sports is often a metaphor for life and it is amazing how many times what happens on a playing field translates to actions off the field.

One of the lessons that every sports official will tell you is that the coaches and managers that complain and demand that officials address the other team “cheating,” are in fact cheating themselves. (“Cheating” may be a bit harsh. “Stretching the rules” may be better.)

We think the same thing is in play here. Because people are so embedded with campaigns and candidates, they cannot imagine someone not being that way. They cannot imagine a group or a site that observes and writes based on an objective standard. Because of that, they ascribe ulterior motives to others because that is what they would do – hide their connections to a campaign.

So be it. That’s on them.

It seems that people have lost the ability to actually debate ideas and instead would rather attack the messenger who may have different ideas. To us, that shows a lack of character and critical thinking skills.

All of this brings us back to the race for Palm Bay City Council Seat 4.

Somewhere along the way this election changed.

By that we mean that when we first met Johnson, he was “bright eyed and bushy tailed.” We liked him. We liked his passion for the City of Palm Bay.

The same is true for Thomas Gaume. When we started listening to Gaume, we liked his passion on the street assessment issue and for Palm Bay in general.

Neither of these men were “professional politicians” and we thought at the time, and still think that not being a “professional politician” was a good thing.

The moment when all of it seem to change was when Johnson brought in or was approached by Democrats. It seemed to us that the election for a City Council seat went from “what is best for the citizens of Palm Bay,” to “what is best for the Democratic Party.”

Gaume, lacking money and influence to combat the Democrats brought in the Republican Party who, like the Democrats, seem to be more concerned with party over people.

The result was more vitriol and more hatred rather than dealing with issues. We have seen more posts and discussions about people (including supporters) than we have on the issues and corruption facing Palm Bay.

(We want to be clear. We are not blaming the decision of either man. What we are saying is that it appears to us that the election and specifically the tone of the election changed and not for the better.)

In short, we think the “pros” have ruined this election between what we considered to be two exciting and passionate candidates. We miss the almost naive enthusiasm from Johnson and Gaume. We liked it a lot more when these two men were running on their own without “help” from their respective parties (in a supposed non-partisan race.)

What has happened is that no matter who wins, two new items are going to be on the plate of the victor. The first is going to be how to heal the city from a race that has divided the city along so many lines. How to recover and move forward is going to be a critical issue. Secondly, the victor is going to have to prove that they represent all of the people in Palm Bay and not just those of one political party. They are going to have to prove that they are above the parties and return to enthusiastic and passionate men we liked.

No matter what, we’ll be watching and commenting.




9 Responses to “Palm Bay: Yes, We Have Met And Discussed Issues With A Candidate For Council Seat 4.”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    I agree 100%.

    Prior to the primary I had ZERO party support and pulled off what many considered a major upset. I didn’t seek out any party support, they came to me the day after the primary, and I’ve received zero financially and only in kind donation of having my picture on a party mailer and handout. Minimal support, but support nonetheless.

    I came through the primary without party support and advanced thanks to the votes of almost 6,000 citizens. I don’t fix in a red box or a blue box, I’m a big guy and I don’t fit in a box, and color doesn’t matter, the issues facing our city are all that matter.

  2. Mike Reitano says:

    I agree 100% but it unfortunately is not just this council election it is a microcosm of the past national elections more vitriol than problem solving.
    It has I guess always been there but maybe not so in your face I do believe the citizens united ruling has been a detriment.
    Particularly disturbing to me is all the Pacs that advertise their innuendo and half truths to stir peoples worst side.
    How about you just tell me specifically what you will try to do fix the problems

    • AAfterwit says:

      Mike Reitano,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We’re not sure how to “fix” the problem, but we can offer some direction and change.

      First is that people have to recognize that there is a problem. We are a blog that is named after a comment made by Founding Father John Adams against another Founding Father Thomas Jefferson in what has been described as the nastiest presidential race ever. Yet when you read about that election, much of the insulting was done between the candidates themselves, and not so much the average citizen. (And the insults were of much better quality than they are today.) The insults seldom attacked supporters and individual supporters.

      Maybe it is social media, people burying their heads in cell phones and tablets, but we seem to have lost the ability to disagree without being disagreeable all the time. For example, we have discussed with you previously your disdain of the Citizen’s United ruling. You don’t like it and we think it allows citizens to band together to make their voices heard much like larger corporations and unions. However, our discussion has always been civil. Your first comment was not “you suck,” and we didn’t respond with “you suck more poopyhead!” Both of us remained focus on the exchange of ideas rather than on who could lower themselves more with insults. We both made a conscience choice that our ideas were more important than insults. People have to do more of that.

      It seems to us that when faced with opposing ideas, far too many people do one or both of two things: they “go low” or they seek to shut the other person down. Maybe it is human nature, but once people go low, it seems that the response is “I can go lower” rather than “I’m going to be better than that.”

      As a people, we have to hold politicians accountable. By that we mean that posted a video yesterday of Gillum staffer basically saying that Gillum was saying things to get vote and tell people what they wanted to hear rather than his actual plans. While the video deals with one politician, we believe that belief is systemic. It doesn’t matter what party or affiliation: candidates are going to lie. The weapon against that is money. People contribute far more to campaigns than unions and corporations. If the people hold political parties and candidates accountable by holding onto their money, we suspect things would change in favor of more honesty.

      You are correct that what happened in Palm Bay is indicative of the national discourse. We loved the idea of a true citizen candidate being elected. It was wonderful to watch Johnson and Gaume interact at forums and other events as there seemed to be a genuine respect for each other. Now we aren’t so sure that exists. The vitriol have gotten too strong, destroying a bond between the two that was based on making Palm Bay better.

      You asked how to fix this problem. Step number one has to be the identification and realization that there is a problem. Step two is to be better as people.

      After that, we can see where it goes.

      A. Afterwit.

  3. Jessica says:

    Oh you mean kinda like Mr Gaume campaigned against Mr Holton for over a year? Where was your concern then? Lol

    • AAfterwit says:

      Jessica,

      We have no idea what you are talking about.

      You are so desperate to condemn anything with which you disagree that your comments make no sense.

      We have been talking about the tone of elections for a long time.

      Apparently you and people like you cannot fathom that the first candidate we talked with in Palm Bay was in fact Kenny Johnson. Perhaps you can’t fathom that we like him because that doesn’t fit your narrative.

      We have addressed everything that you have ever said here and still you want to rant and rave. That’s fine. We allow that.

      It just doesn’t reflect well on you.

      A. Afterwit.

  4. Jessica says:

    Oh is that right? Please post a link to the article where you talk about the negativity and attacks and the horrible tone of this election prior to the results of the primary.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Jessica,

      We have talked about the tone of elections for a long time. It seems clear to us that you are missing the context of the post and want it to represent something other than it is.

      Have a good day.

      A. Afterwit.

  5. Jessica says:

    Yea didnt think so.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Jessica,

      We aren’t going to hold your hand and do the research for you.

      In addition, it maybe that you are having reading comprehension issues, but in the original post, we decried the rancor from both sides of this election. It seems to us that you are so intent on claiming to be a victim or trying to protect others that you aren’t seeing the reality right in front of you.

      Two things are clear: you aren’t interested in any discussion because you are willing to dismiss Parr’s lie.

      Secondly. we noticed on your Facebook page that you “liked” the fraudulently and misleading “Protect and Preserve Cocoa Beach” PAC which has issues with the electioneering laws and lies to the people of Cocoa Beach.

      Birds of a feather, eh?

      Have a good day.

      A. Afterwit.

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