Tuesday, November 01, 2011
IN HAEC VERBA: Letter to St. Johns County Commissioners re: Tea Party Lack of Civility at Today's BCC Meeting
Dear St. Johns County Commissioners:
Thank you for your courtesies at this morning’s SJC BCC meeting. Today marks the first time that the BCC members discussed a proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore since 1940. It was about time. The last time BCC discussed the issue was 71 years ago. We have nowhere to go but “up.” We will be back.
I hope that you will want to discuss the issue again in the very near future, in more detail, with a full briefing from County staff and full discussion of the fiscal and environmental impacts.
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” Falsehoods were spread today without any questions by the BCC members.
We look forward to the opportunity to answer your questions about the National Historical Park and Seashore in an atmosphere where our rights are respected and not neglected. Unfortunately, at this morning’s meeting, a rude few were allowed to make personal attacks without the Commission’s civility rules being enforced. There was no civility apparent on the part of the opponents, whose specious arguments included comparing Park proponents to Hitler and Communists. We have some 400 National Park installations throughout our Nation – our National Parks are “America’s best idea.”
Adlai Stevenson said, “As scarce as truth is, the supply seems greater than the demand.”
Sadly, the BCC did not raise the quality of debate, and tolerated rude behavior from hatemongers and purveyors of fear and smear. The BCC does not function well in an emotion-laden environment, in which people make imitations of gunfire noises, after writing about killing, and shooting the Park (and Park supporters) “between the eyes.”
No one cautioned the crowd after they booed the Park supporters.
It appears that three minute time limits were enforced unequally – several Park opponents were allowed extra time, while park proponents, including Dr. John Brendel, Ph.D., a retired professor, were not allowed more time – Dr. Brendel was not allowed one (1) extra sentence to conclude his remarks. This was unfair.
Again, SJC BCC members asked not a single question. I was not prepared for that – after five (5) years of working on this proposal, I would have welcomed your questions. We expect you to ask them.
In the future, I would appreciate if you would kindly look us in the eye and ask us questions. That is what our Founding Fathers had in mind. Both the democratic method and the scientific method will thrive only when questions are asked and answered, as Carl Sagan said. A “cold bench” – County Commissioners who do not ask questions – does not inspire confidence in the process.
We do like the idea that one of the Park opponents suggested this morning – a referendum on a St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore.
What do you reckon?
Thank you again.
With kindest regards, I am,
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084