Lack of meeting civility was shameful

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At the most recent Carrabelle commission meeting I witnessed an extreme example of the uncivilized, ignorant and boorish behavior that can be found almost anywhere in the country now.

A large woman rose to her feet – out of order - and screamed at the mayor and commission over the proposal to hire a code enforcement officer being requested by the city police chief. She demanded to return to the days of three police officers instead of the five now on staff. She demanded to know why five were needed when three used to be enough to police the city. She demanded a return to the “good old days” and scolded the commission for whatever it was she was screaming about.

She was obviously an older woman; I wonder why she didn’t want to return to the day of the single law enforcement officer, Chief Albin Westberg, who worked out of the now-famous World’s Smallest Police Station. Perhaps she simply has no idea – living in her own bubble as she must be – of the paperwork alone required of today’s police public servants. I wonder if she has any idea of the number of domestic abuse calls made now that used to be hidden behind family doors. (I wonder if she knew the only policeman to be killed in the line of duty in Carrabelle was shot answering a domestic abuse call at the home of a relative?) And if he had been the only policeman, who would have stepped in to protect her as he lay dying on that sidewalk?

Then there was the other attendee, new to the area, challenging the budgets and boldly suggesting the city should “do without.” The “without” was never specified but as someone who well knows the already lean parameters of our numerous city budgets, I know she spoke from ignorance. There is no fat as can be found in other public governmental budgets, some actually close to home, but not in Carrabelle! I hope she takes her enthusiasm for governmental oversight a little further west, over the long bridge, where it is much more needed!

Think it is easy to be a public official these days? I hope the two women who spoke up so loudly will run for office instead of throwing stones from the outside. When the mayor spoke of the token salaries paid to the commissioners and herself, acknowledging there had been no raise in 10 years, the new-to-town woman rudely interjected the mayor was “whining.” There was no whine from the mayor, but rather a statement of fact and a reminder that much of the time some commissioners spend on city business is un-reimbursed, and filled with volunteer hours. Indeed, one commissioner takes the time to speak to everyone in every department frequently. Of course, there is the opposite pattern of behavior by another. Although there is no standard requirement of work hours for commissioners, the current mayor works constantly, every day, long hours on behalf of the city’s well-being and financial stability. Unreimbursed miles are driven, untold meetings attended, research done and budgets created. prepared and monitored for staff. Of course, there was another mayor who charged the city for his gas while he drove around aimlessly. So I guess we have had all kinds!

A recent Facebook post hopes when the clocks were turned back Nov. 7, “may they be turned back to the time when people had morals, values, loyalty, appreciation and respect.”

The lack of civility demonstrated at the meeting was shameful among neighbors. In my opinion, the out-of-order screamer should have been escorted out by the police chief. In a further, frightening development, an elected official was later threatened publicly with retaliation by that earlier screamer. I wonder if she knew that such threats constitute a crime?

I hope those were idle threats made in whatever frustration was felt in the moment. But it is a good thing Carrabelle has those five police officers.

Mel Kelly

Carrabelle

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