published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
When politics get personal
Forget the "Game of Thrones," the "Tudors," or the "Borgias" on cable television. Save yourself the subscription fee and come to Avon Park City Council meetings instead. When it comes to personalized politics, the City of Charm has few rivals, certainly none here in Highlands County.
The council's regular Monday night meeting was a perfect example of targeted attacks. Barry Foster, news director for the Cohan Radio Group, former full-time reporter for the News-Sun and current correspondent, was one focus of anger.
Anyone who knows or listens to Foster knows he is a man of passionate opinions and isn't shy about expressing them. We are not endorsing any of his views here.
Our issue is with city resolution 14-11, brought to the council by City Manager Julian Deleon. It declares total support for a 24/7 paid fire department, and rejects and disapproves of the rumors saying it may be closed down.
If it had been left at that, there wouldn't be a problem. Rumors have been flying about fire protection and it makes total sense for the council to make a public, unambiguous statement of support.
The resolution, however, steps over that line, expressly accusing Sally Perry, Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees union vice-president, and Foster of spreading "inflammatory, disingenuous, fallacious and salacious" rumors about the fire department.
Deleon played a portion he'd taped of Foster's radio show for the council. Foster clearly says he is expressing his PERSONAL opinion before he says his guess is the fire department will be disbanded.
When Councilman Garrett Anderson pointed out the resolution was to make the council's support of a full-time department clear, questioning the need to specifically name Foster and Perry, he was ignored by the mayor and other councilors who passed the resolution as written.
The issue here is not about spreading rumors -- rumors have always been a part of human existence.
The real issue is about freedom of speech. Foster and Perry have the right to say what they think.
Making them scapegoats in a fit of temper is as far from the constitution as one can get and a perfect example of why city officials should avoid letting politics get personal.
Its not entertainment (by: Been here - 8/30/2013)
Its not entertainment when all you do is spit on a community day after day. No talk show host can really believe that their words can be hidden behind the First Ammendment. Everyone that has ever listened to him knows he has some kind of grudge with Avon Park. All Deleon did was point out the obvious.
1st amendment rights (by: Laura Ware - 8/30/2013)
Barry has the right to express his opinion. Even on the tape played he says it's his opinion. Deleon needs to get a grip. So does the AP council. Though I agree with the editorial that this is very entertaining...
Anderson Cares? (by: Been Here - 8/30/2013)
He cares so much that he would forego the stability of an entire city just to get rid of Julian. You can't be an honest politician when you aren't one.
Shame on the author! (by: Blindman~ - 8/29/2013)
What could ever be better than to record someone's own words and then play them back before others? That's not scapegoating, nor was it done in a fit. Your last paragraph is nothing but rhetoric.
Bad egoes and foolish pride (by: Zzzoney64 - 8/29/2013)
Barry foster on the morning show does seem to have a know it all persona, and in my opinion mainly pursues and criticizes things that he can't have a hand in. No free pizza and donuts here pal. He tries t belittle folks that know the truth in his chat when it gets close to his in-actions over the years to allow no hard questions and sits back and plays both sides. He must carry a few pounds of guilt and shame for that. Yes I know, it's just my opinion and we all have them. It s kinda like how over the years all the Palestinians or tax dollars were getting slaughtered and nobody in govt or in committee uncovered it and let the corruption flow and was cool at the time. Now we pass a little gas and all hell breaks loose. What about all those hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of dollars hmmmm?
No pity (by: hey ya - 8/28/2013)
I will give no pity to the media when all they really want to do is sell ad space.
Good for Anderson (by: Jean - 8/28/2013)
Councilman Anderson shows who cares about the people!!!!!!! Why did Barry Foster and Sally Perry have to even be considered in this resolution. They are private citizens. Did anyone verify that Sally Perry was the person on the radio??? Seems like the Council opened themselves up for a lawsuit. It appears that Deleon is unraveling on every edge. He cannot keep his bearings anymore.
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