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This is Why We Fight So Hard For The First Amendment.

Allow us to introduce you to US Representative Frederica Wilson, who represents District 24 here in Florida.

Representative Wilson has some interesting ideas when it comes to speech and expression.

Democratic Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson asserted that people who mock members of Congress online should face prosecution.

“Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace, and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable [sic],” Wilson said during comments made Tuesday outside of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead, Florida.

“We’re gonna shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted,” she continued. “You cannot intimidate members of Congress, frighten members of Congress. It is against the law, and it’s a shame in this United States of America.”

“Shut them down and they should be prosecuted.” (emphasis ours)
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“Fighting Words.”

Last night at the County Commission meeting there were lots of speakers and lots of people on both sides of the Lober issue making statements that made little sense to us.

There was a call for an “ethics committee” and “citizen review boards” to review the conduct of Commissioners.

All of the proposals have legal problems and we won’t address them here at this point in time.

One thing we will take on is comments by on “Robert Burns,” who is helped run Kenny Johnson’s campaign in Palm Bay and is looking to move up the political chain. He has appeared on this blog making what we considered false statements.

During public comments, Burns addressed the issue of the doctrine of “fighting words” as it applies to the First Amendment and Lober’s comments. (It would also apply to other comments, but who said what, when, is not the issue.)

After his comments, Burns received applause which would be great except for one thing: Burns was wrong on the facts of the doctrine of “fighting words.”

Burns said:
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Oh Noes! An “Electronic Petition” Against Bryan Lober!

A Facebook group called “Brevard Ethics” has started an online petition on change.org concerning Brevard County Commissioner Byran Lober.

The petition was brought to our attention because it mentions us. (More on that in a moment.)

First, let’s get the basics out of the way….

Online petitions are not worth the paper they are printed on. This petition is no exception to that rule.

Online petitions are easy to set up, don’t cost anything and don’t take any real time or effort. There is also the fact that the petitions may be signed by people who are outside of the physical location of the people the petition wants to address. By that we mean it is very easy on social media to get friends to sign a petition that deals with Brevard County even though they don’t live within the County itself. We don’t know about you, but we don’t care what someone in Nome, Alaska has to say about a local politician by the name of Bryan Lober.

The other issue is that it is possible to “sign” the same petition multiple times.

Change.org acknowledges that problem:
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Brevard County: Of Signs, Ethics, Carrots And Sticks.

This past week the Brevard County Board of Commissioners voted to approve “legislative intent” for drafting an ordinance that would require businesses selling fertilizer to have signs placed at the display and at eye level The ordinance (which was presented in draft form) would:

…….require retailers of fertilizer to display signs that aid the consumer with ordinance compliance when purchasing fertilizer. The sign will describe: 1) what fertilizers comply with local ordinances adopted to reduce the harmful effects of inappropriate fertilizer use, and 2) when fertilizer application is allowed.

Retailers countywide would be required to install the signs where fertilizer is sold.

There is little or no doubt that fertilizer run-off hurts the Indian River lagoon. That’s a science based fact.

We have no issues with the Brevard County Commission trying to work with citizens and retailers in order to lessen and minimize run off. Generally speaking, we believe that people, store owners and retailers (big box) don’t want to harm the lagoon either. In other words, there is a strong desire for everyone to work on this together.

With such a strong desire from everyone, it is odd to us that the County is looking at taking a stick to businesses rather than leading with a “carrot” in that they want to mandate businesses put up signs concerning fertilizers:
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We Don’t Remember History This Way: Brevard County And the Childrens’ Services Council.

The Brevard County Commission and the Childrens’ Services Council was back in play a few days ago at the County Committee meeting.

We had written about the Childrens’ Services Council (CSC) here and here and raised several questions as to the actions the County Commission took against the CSC.

As a bit of a background, the CSC was established in 1990. The CSC under Florida Statutes can seek to tax residents for funding. The CSC approached the County Commission to have a tax initiative put on the ballot for the November, 2018 election. That proposal was rejected by the Commission who told the CSC to go the route of a petition drive to put the item on the ballot. The CSC started to do that when in January of 2019, the County Commission decided they could dissolve the CSC unilaterally. The CSC was aware of the Commission’s plan to try and dissolve them and on January 22, 2019, transferred the entirety of its bank account – $22,726.40 – to the Space Coast Health Foundation to be held in trust for the CSC.

The Commission meeting on January 22, 2019 (the same day that the CSC had transferred the funds to the Space Coast Health Foundation) was heated with the Commission voting to dissolve the CSC by ordinance.

However, there was a legal issue raised by the CSC as to whether the County Commission could dissolve the CSC or whether the voters had to dissolve the CSC since the voters voted to establish the group. At the meeting, the CSC offered to have a judge decide the issue and the Commission refused to go that route. The CSC told the Commission that they would be going forward with legal action to determine whether the County Commission or the voters could dissolve the CSC.

The Commission’s response was “feel free to do that.”

After the meeting on January 22, 2019 where the Commission voted to dissolve the CSC, with the passage of the dissolution ordinance, the County also assumed the debts and assets of the CSC. We don’t think that the County can say “this is ours” when there still is a bona fide dispute dispute as to whether the County’s actions were legal.

The CSC took the challenge of the Commission and started legal proceedings. Their first step was to give a $10,000 retainer to the legal firm of Lewis, Longman and Walker.

The money was part of bank transfer the CSC had made to the Space Coast Health Foundation. All $22,726.40 were donations – not taxes, not money approved as a grant by the Commission, not money as part of a County sponsored program. Donations.

It would be fair to assume that the people who donated to the CSC supported the vision and mission of the CSC. Otherwise, why donate to a group that you oppose?

Which brings us to Tuesday, March 26, 2019 when during the Department Reports, County Attorney Eden Bentley asked the Commission for direction as to what to do with the CSC.
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Keep Digging.

In response to our post yesterday on Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober and his lack of fact checking, his lack of “due diligence,” and his apparent belief that those who exercise their Constitutional rights are acting in a “cowardly” manner, a commenter quoted the famous line from Will Rogers, “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

It is a lesson that is lost on Lober.

After his screed claiming that a citizen would not be able to avail themselves of the County Attorney when it comes to questions on the Sunshine Laws and whether people in the government are following those laws, Maureen Rupe sent this email to County Manager Frank Abbate and “cc’ed” the County Commissioners:

(click image for larger version in a new window.)

In his previous responses to Rupe, Lober had left the door wide open for the confusion and a need for clarification.
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Commissioner Bryan Lober Should A) Apologize B) Be Censured C) Resign. Pick Two.

Maureen Rupe is probably best described as a citizen volunteer and activist. She serves on many boards including a hospital board in Brevard County. She is also an self-described avowed socialist and we disagree with her on almost everything.

During the County Commission meeting on January 22, 2019 concerning the dissolution of the Children’s Services Council (CSC,) Commissioner Bryan Lober said that he had gotten many emails and phone called that were largely in favor of voting to dissolve the CSC.

Rupe decided to test that theory and made a public records request under Florida Statute 119, also known as the “Sunshine Law” for Lober’s phone records and who was for or against the CSC in those conversations.

Lober responded to the request with this:

Please find below records from my cell that may pertain, even if only in part, to the CSC. The records may well be overly inclusive as I do not recall the nature of each and every call. Again, these are from my cell phone. I will request that [District 2 Administrative Assistant] Kika check the call log, in the office, to see if it is notated which particular calls pertained to the CSC. It is unlikely that all calls pertaining to the CSC were notated as quite a few were in favor of dissolution without any particularly noteworthy or unique commentary.

Rupe responded with an email to County Attorney Eden Bentley:
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Acting Childishly On Behalf Of Children. (Part Two.)

(note: The logo in the image is from the Florida Children’s Council which is “an association of Children’s Services Councils statewide.” If the Brevard Children’s Services Council has a logo, we couldn’t find it.)

(Yesterday we posted about the Brevard Children’s Services Council and the Brevard County Commission and how trying to support kids through a charity or not got ugly. On January 22, during a Commission meeting, it got worse.)

On January 22, 2019, the Brevard County Commission met to dissolve the Children Services Council (CSC) whose creation it had authorized in November, 1990.

After the Commission had denied the CSC access to the ballot on July 28, 2018, the CSC decided it would go down the path of getting on the ballot via the petition method as mentioned and perhaps even recommended by Commissioners Pritchett and Isnardi in 2018.

In the wake of the contentious aftermath of that meeting, it appears that Commissioner Isnardi decided it would be better to dissolve the CSC rather than allow it to take its case to the people and see if they could get onto the ballot via petition.

The agenda item was H-1 on January 22, which read:

An ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 90-41 of Brevard County, Florida which created the Children’s Services Council and assuming the Council’s debts, liabilities, contracts, and obligations.

While 21 people spoke for and against the CSC, the real issue would become whether or not the CSC could be dissolved by ordinance. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Several of the people speaking against the CSC cited the problems with spending in Palm Beach County as well as Broward County. A South Sentinel series on spending by the two CSC’s in 2010 seemed to indicate a problem. To us, that is a bit of “guilt by association” when one says “because Group X did something, Group Y must be guilty of the same thing.”
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