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Florida Roundup.

Florida-Steak---ROH Here are a few items that have caught our eye concerning our home state of Florida.

The Florida Today reports:

Brevard County wants to put restrictions on the height of future cellular phone towers as part of a proposed massive overhaul of rules for such structures.

While we respect the right of County to make regulations on buildings and projects, what caught our eye was this statement from Commissioner Robin Fisher:

Separately, Commissioner Robin Fisher urged Brevard planning staff to identify five county-owned sites where the county may want to consider building its own towers.

“It’s a very lucrative business, and I think it would be in our best interest to get in it,” Fisher said. “We can take a lead on this.”

The government should not get involved in any business. That is not its role in society. When it comes to businesses, the government should protect the rights of people and their ability to make money without harming others or violating the rights of others. There should be no place for the government to enter the market to compete against businesses over which it has regulatory powers.

The County should not only not “take the lead” on this as Fisher suggests, but get out of the way of others who legitimately are in the business.


The Mayor of Winter Park had a man removed from a City Council meeting because the man failed to stand during a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

While we disagree with the man’s choices, he has the right to stay seated and not participate in a prayer and the recitation of the Pledge.
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Bark At A Police Dog – Get Arrested.

Alligator_head-ROH Well, this is something you don’t see or hear often….

Florida Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison has been arrested for the second time in five weeks, this time for allegedly barking at a police dog and resisting arrest, and will miss at least the first two games of the season after being suspended from the team Sunday.

Yep.

You read that right.

Someone was arrested for barking at a dog.

Apparently an officer with a K-9 dog named “Bear” responded to a call dealing with a break-in of a car. While the officer was examining the car, Bear was still in the police car when Morrison and his friends walked past the police car.

According to Morrison, Bear barked at him and Morrison barked back.

The officer had to look away from the car he was examining to look at Morrison and Bear “communicating.” The officer then told Morrison to wait by the front of the vehicle.

When the officer talked to Morrison and attempted to put handcuffs on him, Morrison “resisted.”

To be honest with you, this seems a little ridiculous.

The Florida statute dealing with law enforcement animals is 843.19 which reads:
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Goodbye Mike. Hello Ayn. And About That (In)Famous Picture.

The saga taking place at Satellite Beach took another step on Wednesday as the City Council voted to hire Ayn Samuelson to replace City Manager Mike Crotty who is retiring. Samuelson will be paid $8,000 a month for 180 days. The hiring of Samuelson raises an interesting question as to the qualifications of a City Manager. The three other candidates had prior experience as a City Manager. Samuelson does not. That is not a knock against Samuelson, but rather begs the question “is a person who served as a City Manager more or less qualified than a person who served as a manager, business owner, etc in the private sector?” The reason we ask is, frankly, when serving in the public sector becomes its own career path, that frightens us to some extent. It is one thing to have experience as a City Manager and another thing to have experience as a manager in other positions and other job paths. We have no particular stance on this, but are simply pondering the situation as a mental exercise.

Samuelson was contacted by the Florida Today newspaper:

I’m honored and touched that the City Council has chosen me to work with them and move the city forward — and start the healing process. I see that as being very important,” Samuelson said in a phone interview minutes after she was selected.

Frankly, this statement has us baffled a little bit. If part of the job description for City Manager is “help a city heal,” we have already lost. It is one thing to note the disagreement between groups in the city, but it should be remembered that some members of the current City Council took Mike Crotty to task publicly for failing to condemn what they considered unfair and undue attacks by friends of Crotty.
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Perspective.

Last night was a busy night at the world headquarters of Raised on Hoecakes. Our post yesterday entitled “Compelled Speech Is Not Free Speech,” caught the eyes of many people in Satellite Beach, FL. One person was kind enough to post a response. Others sent us emails for which we are always thankful.

At the same time the emails and hits on the site started to go up, we were watching online a memorial service for Donna Linnea Hale that was held at Calvary Chapel of Merritt Island in Florida. The name “Donna Hale” will not mean much to those who read this blog around the world, but she meant a great deal to her friends, her family and the literally thousands of people she touched with her musical talent and voice all around the world. Calvary Chapel Merritt Island is not a small church and to say the joint was packed to the gills is an understatement. We, along with people around the world, were able to watch the service being streamed live across the internet.

Our connection with Donna and her husband was through a friend who introduced us to the Hales. We were blessed to attend a weekly Bible study at their home as well as play praise and worship music for the study until we moved and the distance was too great to travel. We also worked with Donna several times with a band as she provided great vocals.

Donna passed away suddenly a week ago and last night at Calvary Chapel was a both a celebration and a vain attempt to fill the void her passing has left in the hearts of many.

We have often thought that one of the most difficult things to do is to be a pastor presiding over a funeral or a memorial ceremony. It is difficult to offer anything that uplifts and comfort is often fleeting. Last night as we listened to multiple pastors (“multiple” because Donna had touched so many churches and congregations) the recurring theme was “what about your life?”

Donna was a person who was a peacekeeper and a mender of relationships. Whether it was her personality or her singing voice, she was a person that brought others together.

She was, in fact, almost the opposite of us.

We can’t imagine Donna Hale ever writing a blog like Raised on Hoecakes. The very nature of the subjects we cover scream “conflict” and “confrontation.” Yet sometimes we believe that extended confrontation and conflict are the wrong way to go and in fact exacerbate bad situations making them worse.

Which brings us back to the City Council of Satellite Beach, FL. One of the comments to our post yesterday made reference to emails between Vice Mayor Scott Rhodes and a citizen of Satellite Beach by the name of John Baker.

A little back story is needed. As we reported on May 31, 2012, during a City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Scott Rhodes raised a question about a picture that had been forwarded to him which showed a person not in uniform using the city’s Citizen on Patrol (COP) car to go to WalMart. As we said at the time, Rhodes had to ask the question as a citizen had forwarded the picture to him and other members of the City Council. For Rhodes not to question the policy on the use of the car would have been a dereliction of duty.
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Compelled Speech Is Not Free Speech.

We have written about the little town of Satellite Beach, FL far too often for our liking. Yet it is our belief that politics in small towns is a microcosm of politics at the state and national level. It is also our belief that when people in the public eye lie and distort the truth, they should be held accountable and open for public ridicule.

Recently, Satellite Beach City Manager Mike Crotty announced he was stepping down from his position. We were struck by the timing of his announcement as just several months ago, there was a City Council meeting where the City Council looked at his continued employment. Many citizens came to the meeting and spoke up for Crotty and he retained his job. Crotty’s employment contract was also up for renewal this year and at the time, nothing was said about his retiring. In fact, Crotty spoke openly about looking forward to working with the City Council as he had done for decades with other Councils.

Suddenly now, Crotty decides to “step down” or “retire.”

We wondered what could have caused the change of heart. It was clear to many citizens that newly elected members of the City Council had an open hostility toward Crotty. The only thing we can think of that changed was a change in the members of the City Council itself. Recently Councilman Bill Higginson passed away while in office. The Council, instead of waiting and taking applications or even looking at other options, appointed resident Lloyd French to fill the empty council position. While the Council had the legal right to make such an appointment, the speed in which the “political ally” of Council members was made was at the very least, troubling. French had “been on the radar” after a rather public fight between his appointment to a committee and the local Fraternal Order of Police. We covered the controversy both here on Raised on Hoecakes and on the Steve Bussey Radio Experience.

After our initial posts and comments on the radio, we were contacted by someone with intimate knowledge of the situation, and who was unbiased in his outlook. That source told us that French had misrepresented to the Council and to the citizens of Satellite Beach the reasons for his “losing” his job. The actual reasons don’t matter to this discussion. What matters is that French was not open and honest with the people of Satellite Beach, and yet he was appointed to be on the City Council.

If you are wondering why we are focusing on French, it is because he took the time to write a letter to the Florida Today newspaper in which he made several comments that are, at best, disingenuous. He also lays out what may be the actual reason for Crotty leaving his position as City Manager.

This is what French wrote:
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Clowns The Left…… Now Updated!

On Thursday, we wrote about the inflated kerfuffle happening in Satellite Beach. Near the end of a very long City Council meeting (the meeting was over 6 hours long and ran past midnight) Vice Mayor Scott Rhodes brought up an issue concerning the use of the city’s “Citizens On Patrol.” Rhodes had been given an picture of a city volunteer who in the picture was seen going to his car in the parking lot of a local WalMart. The volunteer was not in uniform. In that the city has budget problems, Rhodes asked if this was policy and emphasized the image that having a volunteer not in uniform gave gave a negative impression of the COP volunteers and the city.

Councilman French and Chief of Police Jeff Pearson said they had seen the picture as well.

After a short discussion, the resolution was to make sure the rules of using the car – specifically the need to be in the city’s uniform – were reinforced to city employees and volunteers.

That’s all.

End of discussion. A minor issue was resolved.

However, as we noted, some people can’t let such issues go. On Memorial Day, we received an email trying to agitate the situation. At the time, we did not identify the person sending the email as they are not a public figure.

That all changed on Saturday when the author of the email managed to have his thoughts published in the Florida Today newspaper.
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Clowns To The Left, Jokers To The Right, Here We Are: Just Plain Stuck.

The town of Satellite Beach, Florida has about 10,000 residents and sits right on the Atlantic Ocean. Located just south of Patrick Air Force Base and the Kennedy Space Center, it is, for the most part, a nice town until you start to delve into the politics of the city a bit. We have written about the City Council several times in the past, and those writings should give readers a feeling of what can happen when a down is divided politically.

None of the previous examples prepared us for the recent spout of lunacy.

First, let us introduce you to the City Council and the “players” in this incident:

Starting on the left (A) is Fire Chief Don Hughes.

Behind Chief Hughes and barely visible (B), is Chief of police Jeff Pearson.

Sitting on the dais, left to right is (C) City Manager Mike Crotty, (D) City Attorney Jim Beadle, (E) Councilman Lloyd French, (F) Councilman Greg Billman, (G) Mayor Joseph Ferrante, (H) Vice Mayor Scott Rhodes and finally, (I) Councilwoman Sheryl Denan.

Not pictured is citizen volunteer Bill Speigelhalter whose involvement in this issue wil be made clear not by the City Council, but by Speigelhalter himself.

In a City Council meeting of May 16, 2012, and as seen in a clip below, Vice Mayor Rhodes asks about the use of a “Citizen on Patrol” vehicle. (Please, no snickers concerning “Citizens on Patrol.”) He says he was forwarded a picture by a city resident showing the COP car being used to pick something up from a local WalMart and the person driving appeared not to have been on official business.

During the discussion, and you can listen for yourself, Chief of Police Jeff Pearson and Councilman Lloyd French say they have seen the photo too.

As audience members (also known as citizens of Satellite Beach) listened, several things were learned. First, the COP car is often used by the city to send city volunteers on errands that pertain to city business. Doing this is cheaper than dispatching a city paid employee using a city car to make the supply run. Secondly, when the car is being used by a volunteer, the volunteer should be in some sort of city “uniform” which designates them as a city volunteer.

As the discussion wound down, what was clear was making trips in the COP car without proper attire reflects badly on a city that is hurting for money and that all volunteers would be reminded of the uniform policy. No blame assessed – no recriminations – just “this may be a problem, let’s fix it and move on.”

End of story, right?

Not so fast.
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Two Sides Of The Same Coin.

In our post from February 10, 2012 entitled “Can’t Stand The Heat – A Cautionary Tale,” we used the example of a local city council as an example of not trusting people just because they say they believe in something.

In the case we examined, a newly elected member of the City Council who had run as a member of the Tea Party and espoused Tea Party ideals of smaller government, more efficient government and the Rights of the people had suddenly joined with two others members of the City Council to silence political speech that was critical of City Council members and their actions.

After the radio show on Saturday, our friend Steve Bussey received an email from someone asking if his blog or the show had covered the Satellite Beach City Council meeting. As Steve was out covering anther political event and we had gone to the council meeting, he directed the emailer to this site. We have to admit that we got more hits than normal and the “Cautionary Tale” post was one of the most read posts for that day. (We also got a comment from someone and we responded to that comment as well.)

To be clear, our impression was that some or maybe even a majority of the charges leveled at the new members of the City Council were distortions of the truth. However, in the world of politics, people will lie, distort and make all sorts of allegations. While we find such actions wrong and reprehensible, at the same time the overt actions and threats of at least two members of the City Council and the Mayor to deprive citizens of their rights to free speech on political issues to be even more egregious.

Two wrongs don’t make a right and in this case, one action is clearly the greater wrong.

It was therefore interesting when over the past few days two letters to the editor of the Florida Today appeared in the newspaper.

The first appeared on Monday, February 13, 2012, and was written by City Councilman Scott Rhodes:
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