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Brevard County: Tobia Pulls Back On Speech Restrictions.

This is welcome news.

Brevard County Commissioner John Tobia has beefed up his proposed civility ordinance aimed at keeping commissioners in check during their meetings.

Critically:

His latest proposal also eliminates references to potential sanctions aimed at members of the public for incivility. (emphasis ours)

It almost seems like someone reminded Tobia of the Constitution and the idea behind the First Amendment.
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Brevard County: Called It! We Saw This Coming From Miles Away.

After last week’s Brevard County Commission meeting, there was a sense that people wanted the Commission to “do something,” in the case of Bryan Lober and his reprehensible remarks he has made to people. People are rightly upset with some of the things that Lober has said and at the meeting, some called for a censure or Lober. Some people called for his removal from the Vice Chair position. Some called for his resignation.

And then there were those who called for “more civility” and “rules to support more civility.”

We suspected then that there would be those who would want to restrict the rights of people and their speech.

We were right.

Commissioner John Tobia has led off with a proposal that, according to the FloridaToday:

The current version of Tobia’s proposed policy has these provisions for conduct during County Commission meetings for members of the commission, county staff and the public:

• No speaker may attack the personal character of any individual, including, but not limited to, calling into question their integrity.

• No speaker may label another individual pejoratively, including, but not limited to, applying labels such as “racist,” “bigot,” “misogynist,” “sexist,” “criminal” or “evil.” Tobia said this provision should not be interpreted as preventing a speaker from labeling a policy or general idea that way.

There are constitutional issues – major constitutional issues – with these proposals.
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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: Some Commissioners Comment On Lober’s Comments.

In an article in Florida Today, some County Commissioners have commented on Commissioner Lober’s recent comments and spats on Facebook.

Let’s start with Commissioner Curt Smith of District 4:

County Commissioner Curt Smith said Lober’s comments are “disappointing.”

“This kind of conduct drags us all down in the gutter,” Smith said. “I find what he said very disturbing. I don’t think the comments were befitting the professional conduct people hold us to as elected officials.”

That’s fairly strong and while Smith later says he is not sure what they can do about it, at least he is out there saying Lober’s comments were wrong.
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Brevard County: Why Lober’s Comments Are Not Only A Party Issue.

(image courtesy of Florida Today.)

As with many things, it started small….a spark….a bad “joke” and stupid comments on Facebook.

The comments made by Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober has left many scratching their heads.

Then this one:
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Brevard County: Children’s Services Council On The Agenda For Tomorrow.

(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.)

We have written far too much about the interaction between the Children’s Services Council (CSC) and the Brevard County Commission. To say the least, some of that interaction has not only not been pleasant, it has been down right acrimonious.

When we last left the coverage of the battle, the CSC was suing the Commission for what the CSC claimed was the illegal “dissolution” of the CSC by ordinance saying that as the CSC was created through public vote, it has to be dissolved by public vote. The Commission, for their part, claims they could dissolve the CSC at any time and take any money the CSC had in their coffers.

The County Commission authorized the County Attorney to go after the money which was being held by other organizations until the legal dispute was resolved.

We have never taken a position on the existence of the CSC itself, but we have taken positions on the legality of the ordinance and the County literally threatening individuals and organizations. While the people and the organizations have to use their funds to defend themselves, the County is using taxpayer dollars to essentially sue charities. We don’t think that is a good look or smart on the behalf of the County.

However, the CSC is back on the agenda for the Brevard County Commission this Thursday at 3:30 PM.

Here’s the agenda:
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