published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
AP mayor, CRA advisory chair ask for civility
By PHIL ATTINGER
AVON PARK -- Deputy Mayor Brenda Giles asked for and got a special meeting of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency set for Thursday.
Giles said Monday that issues brought up at last Friday's Southside CRA Advisory Board meeting needed to be handled by the "Mothership Board," the CRA board's nickname among city officials.
She originally asked for today or Friday, but Councilman Garrett Anderson suggested the meeting be added to Thursday's joint meeting with the Avon Park Police Pension Board.
Council members and staff agreed to add it before the meeting until Arnold Davis, an alternate for the Southside advisory board, asked to have it later to allow working people and parents a better chance to attend.
The City Council then decided to move the CRA special meeting to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, after the pension board joint meeting.
Councilman Heston was not present Monday.
The CRA matter involves conflicting plans for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20, 2014.
The Southside advisory board has arranged through an event planner to put on a three- to four-day downtown event with a festival atmosphere and a budget of $10,000.
Meanwhile, Southside community members would prefer a neighborhood and volunteer event staged mostly in the Southside community on the holiday itself with a maximum $3,000 budget.
Advisory Board Chairman Gerald Snell told the City Council on Monday that he wanted to have a unified event, but would accept and support their decision on Thursday -- whatever it may be -- and pledged to continue volunteering with the city and the MLK Day events, however needed.
The advisory board meeting on Friday often dissolved into raised voices between advisory board and audience members, including two audience claims that one city resident should not be on the board because he was born and raised in Wauchula in Hardee County, not in Avon Park.
Snell, speaking as a resident during Monday's City Council meeting, decried those comments and other forms of intolerance.
He said the advisory board member volunteers in many local organizations -- more often than some other residents -- and said Travis Garcia, event planner hired by the Southside advisory board to arrange MLK Day events, has been reviled, too.
"Although he is of the same skin color of most of the residents of the Southside community, apparently that is not enough to be accepted by some who were born in the Southside," Snell said.
He said some who have moved away and returned to Avon Park have not been accepted, either.
Snell said one "northside" resident said those not born in Avon Park don't deserve to work for the city because their "heart wasn't born in Avon Park."
Also, Snell said he was "subject to racial ignorance and bigotry" from another resident two weeks ago while walking out of a city council meeting.
"I was hugely disappointed more so because this person betrays kindness in public," Snell said. "I question the true motives of some who say certain things publicly yet their actions say something entirely different in private."
Mayor Sharon Schuler also made a plea for civility when she opened Monday's meeting.
"The city council meetings (have become) a yelling match," Schuler said. "We will not be allowing that at this time or from now on."
She said residents may fill out slips of paper to speak if they wished and said that they would be heard.
"But if you start holler out back and forth, I will hit the gavel (and) you will be escorted out of the chambers," Schuler said. "This goes for council members and city manager."
Councilman Parke Sutherland also asked if the City Council would be willing to compare the city's public participation policy to the Highlands County Commission's policy.
He said he wasn't sure if it was necessary for members of the community to have to sign a sheet just to address the council on matters of city concern at the end of a meeting.
City Attorney Gerald Buhr said the main concern is that the city make sure citizens have input on matters up for a vote by the city council.
delon (by: foe - 10/19/2013)
Those who Foolishly sought power, by riding the back of the tiger, ended up inside. It was true 50 years ago, it is true today.
Change is in need (by: November 05, 2013 - 10/17/2013)
Can someone stop by the local walmart and pick up a change of clothes for two. One set should fit a medium size man and the other set for a female. I understand that anytime someone mentions the word (ELECTION) JD and MS resort to soiling themselves. A wise man once told me, "you should becareful on how you treat your subordinates, for one day they may be your boss".
Racial ignorance (by: Jim Barnard - 10/17/2013)
It is shameful that there are still people in this town who do not care for those of color. Some who call themselves Christians, but still use the n-word at a city council chambers should realize their actions are wrong.I hope and pray this person would apologize and remove bigotry from their vocabulary. God will forgive you,but you must repent!
OMG (by: Banana - 10/16/2013)
How does it feel Mr Anderson to have a minority actually have a better idea than you?
really (by: boynamedmaria - 10/16/2013)
Does the council have to control everything? Why can't the residents of the Southside have their own event? The city needs new leadership. New council people and mayor that can keep the city out of the newspaper. If those registered voters from the Southside voted, this council would be unseated. Get out and vote..
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