The Mating Calls of Government: Photos And Taxes.

Today at 9 AM, a bunch of elected officials and employees from the City of Palm Bay and Brevard County will gather for a “ribbon cutting ceremony” for the infamous “Interchange to Nowhere.”

The interchange has been plagued by lies, failed government deals, failed negotiations, expired permits, money spent to keep the FDOT portion of the interchange open, and posturing between the County Commission and the Palm Bay City Council.

No intelligent human being could ever think that the exchange should be celebrated much less gathering people together for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The bizarre thing is that while both the County Commission and the Palm Bay City Council have been telling residents to avoid social gatherings and “be responsible,” last week Palm Bay Mayor Capote (the REMF) reminded people of the ribbon cutting ceremony and hoped people would come out to watch and celebrate.

How hypocritical and tone deaf can a group of elected officials be?

We realize that the mating call of a photo op is strong for officials, but what kind of message is being sent to the people of Palm Bay and un-incorporated Brevard County?

“When it comes to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, do as we say, not as we do?”

We can’t wait to see the photos from this ceremony because when the ribbon is cut, the person doing the cutting shouldn’t have anyone within a 6 foot radius, right? That’s what we have been told and warned, right?

To us, it is also a case of money. To some extent we may be being petty here, but we guarantee that officials aren’t even buying the ribbon. After wasting tons of taxpayer money, the final insult may be “taxpayers need to buy the supplies so we can celebrate how great we are.”

Ivey Doesn’t Get It.

We’ve entered the Twilight Zone in the case of Gregory Edwards, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, and Edwards’ widow, Kathleen.

Over the weekend, Ivey announced that he would allow the FDLE to conduct and investigation into the death of Edwards while in the custody of the Brevard County Sheriff’s office at the County Jail.

This would be a turn around by Ivey as he had blocked the FDLE from an independent investigation of the incident at the jail not once but twice. It sounds like a good thing, but it isn’t.

This case has primarily gained local attention requesting an additional independent review by some members of our community as a result of the demonstrations currently taking place around our country following the unacceptable death of George Floyd,” Ivey said in a statement issued Saturday.

The review by the state’s top investigative agency will not involve a second investigation, as some, including Edwards’ widow, have demanded. Under the terms of the review, FDLE agents will simply go over the investigation already conducted by the Sheriff’s Office to determine its validity.

More Voices Call For Release Of Edwards Video.

“The moment I release it, I give up all of the security features that are in my jail.” – Sheriff Wayne Ivey

More voices are calling for the release of the video of an incident at the Brevard County Jail where Gregory Lloyd Edwards, a 38-year-old army medic, died while in custody of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Brevard public defender, defense lawyers call on sheriff to release jail video involving Gregory Edwards and corrections deputies

Members of a criminal defense attorney organization, along with the Brevard County Public Defender are calling for Sheriff Wayne Ivey to release a jail video showing a violent confrontation between Gregory Edwards and corrections deputies.

Edwards died the next day.

Margaret Wagner, a criminal defense attorney and representative of the Brevard chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that lawyers and prosecutors are frequently provided videos of jail interactions and fights as part of public trials and court cases. The group has over 50 members in Brevard.

Ivey And Edwards Revisited.

It is difficult to not think of the George Floyd case these days. It is hard for us to sit here and think that the man had to die. Police and citizen interactions are always complicated. Police, by the very nature of the job, generally see the worst in people. While we are sleeping snug in our beds, they are dealing with some lowlife beating his wife. While we are at work in our 9-5 jobs, they are at the door of someone’s home telling a parent, sibling or child that their loved one won’t be coming home ever again because they were killed in a random shooting, drug overdose or accident with a DUI driver.

While we are cognizant of the job police do (and most do it well,) if there is a group that can relate to the stress, anxiety, and death of friends, it is veterans. It is the men and women who protect our country and its values who can most closely relate to the police officer on the beat.

Which brings us back to the case of veteran Gregory Edwards.

We wrote a little bit about this case the other day, saying:

Just Say “No.” Part II

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we wrote this post, it bloomed into something that is over 4000 words, which is far too long for any post – even if you have time to read it during the current pandemic. It’s too long to get through with one cup of coffee and we don’t want to be accused of creating or feeding caffeine addictions.

This is part two of a two part series. You can find part one here.

(That’s assuming we haven’t been arrested.)

Another incident of Ivey and the BCSO being above the law when a citizen was summarily removed from a press conference being held concerning the COVID-19 pandemic being held in a public area. Ivey stood by while his officer illegally removed the person. The BCSO later “defended” the action by saying they have to do what the County Commission tells them to do. In this case, Commissioner Brian Lober demanded that the person, who was not creating a disturbance, be removed. We always thought that the oath Ivey and his officers took was to the US Constitution, the State of Florida Constitution, and the local laws and not blindly follow the directions of a Commissioner.

When we wrote about this incident, we noted:

In the case of Smith v. City of Cumming, Georgia (2000), the Eleventh Circuit (which covers the State of Florida) held:

The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest. See Blackston v. Alabama, 30 F.3d 117, 120 (11th Cir.1994) (finding that plaintiffs’ interest in filming public meetings is protected by the First Amendment); Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 439 (9th Cir.1995) (recognizing a “First Amendment right to film matters of public interest”); Iacobucci v. Boulter, No. CIV.A. 94-10531, 1997 WL 258494 (D.Mass, Mar. 26, 1997) (unpublished opinion) (finding that an independent reporter has a protected right under the First Amendment and state law to videotape public meetings); see also United States v. Hastings, 695 F.2d 1278, 1281 (11th Cir.1983) (finding that the press generally has no right to information superior to that of the general public) (citing Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 609, 98 S.Ct. 1306, 55 L.Ed.2d 570 (1978)); Lambert v. Polk County, 723 F.Supp. 128, 133 (S.D.Iowa 1989) (“[I]t is not just news organizations … who have First Amendment rights to make and display videotapes of events….”); Thompson v. City of Clio, 765 F.Supp. 1066, 1070-71 (M.D.Ala.1991) (finding that city council’s ban on member’s attempt to record proceedings regulated conduct protected by the First Amendment); cf. Williamson v. Mills, 65 F.3d 155 (11th Cir.1995) (reversing district court’s grant of qualified immunity to a law enforcement officer who seized the film of and arrested a participant in a demonstration for photographing undercover officers). Thus, the district court erred in concluding that there was no First Amendment right. (emphasis ours)

Burns’ right to be at the meeting / press conference is well established law. There is no need for any “investigation” as to the legality of this matter at all. The law is clear.

Just Say “No.” Part I.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we wrote this post, it bloomed into something that is over 4000 words, which is far too long for any post – even if you have time to read it during the current pandemic. It’s too long to get through with one cup of coffee and we don’t want to be accused of creating or feeding caffeine addictions.

This is part one of a two part series. Part two will be posted tomorrow.

(That’s assuming we haven’t been arrested.)

Last week, Brevard County Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser announced she was resigning from her position in order to take a job in the private sector.

Brevard County Public Safety Group Director Matthew Wallace said John Scott, the county’s deputy director of emergency management and director of operations, will fill Prosser’s position on an interim basis. Scott also runs the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Rockledge when it is activated.

(As a side note, Commissioner Tobia said this about the resignation:

County Commissioner John Tobia, however, said he is not happy about the timing of Prosser’s resignation.

“I think it’s disgraceful that our emergency management director would step down in the middle of a pandemic and a week before hurricane season begins,” Tobia said.

According to the article:

The Madness Of King George III Lober.

King George III of Britain is known for two things. First, George was the king that “lost the colonies” which of course became the United States. The second thing is that King George suffered from some mental disease which led him to be known as “Mad King George.” For years, historians believe that George III was afflicted with porphyria, but new theories say that he was bipolar.

Sadly, we here in Brevard may be witnessing a similar example in the person of County Commissioner and Chairperson Bryan Lober.

Since his election in 2018, Lober has had rather long history of unseemly run ins with other Commissioners, staff, and citizens.

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Claims They Have To Do Whatever The County Commission(ers) Say. How Wrong Can They Be?

After our post on April 1, 2020 concerning the outrageous actions of County Commissioner Bryan Lober, Sheriff Wayne Ivey and an un-named Deputy Sheriff in removing one Robert Burns from a “press conference” / meeting, we received an emails from Burns forwarding both his complaint to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the response from email from Brevard County Sheriff’s Office West Precinct Commander Bruce L. Barnett.

We want to make it clear that we are not fans of Burns and his tactics, but this goes beyond our mutual dislike for each other. If the Sheriff’s Office thinks they can trample on the rights of people with impunity, that affects us all.

First, the Burns’ complaint email dated March 28, 2020:

Lt Simpkins,

I’ve been trying to reach you to get more information and file a formal complaint about the incident that occurred this past Tuesday at the press conference.

According to Sgt Hammond your subordinate, he was instructed by you to have me removed from the county press conference at the request of Bryan Lober.

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