Letter: Groves Council Shoots Itself In The Other Foot

The outrage continued at the Dec. 4 Loxahatchee Groves council meeting. The mayor and council members were marginally less aggressive to Ms. Thais Gonzalez and her campaign to get a referendum on the college than they were last meeting, but their horrendous attacks on democracy and freedom of speech continued unabated.

Despite the obvious positive effect their heinous personal attacks on Ms. Gonzalez had, instead of trying to find an intelligent way to deal with the current hot topic in a statesmanlike manner, they reloaded and blasted off their other foot. At least Councilman Jim Rockett had the decency not to wear his trademark patriotic shirt whilst doing it. Not the American way to smash the First Amendment, eh Jim? Just the Loxahatchee Groves way.

The great news for freedom lovers and the town residents was that there were several new faces at the meeting — many opposed to the college, some only because of the council’s bungling efforts to gag the people, all keen to join Ms. Gonzalez’s committee. If nothing else, Ms. Gonzalez has sharpened the focus on the dubious process by which it was approved in the first place.

Sadly, the council, with the shining exception of Councilman Tom Goltzené, despite the clear contrary and growing public opinion in the town, again didn’t take heed of the electorate and continued along the cowardly autocratic path it started out on last meeting. Again, one must wonder why? They went further and “passed a motion” (somehow strangely appropriate terminology) that enabled them to embark on an “anti–Thais Gonzalez and her petition” campaign at the public expense. What a bunch of losers.

They even intend to use the town web site to post speculative untruthful propaganda about how it’s going to cost everyone in the town a fortune if the college doesn’t go ahead. The people of this town are not as stupid as you think, gentlemen. They’ll see that for what it is: pathetic scare mongering.

If there is any financial penalty for the likely success of Ms. Gonzalez’s actions, it is you, Mr. Mayor, and your council colleagues who must bear full responsibility for placing the town in the position of risk. You rushed it through in the summer months when no one was around. You didn’t make any effort to inform the electorate. You didn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s. And you didn’t even make sure the deal was watertight. Duh. You really are making a mockery of local government.

Even the orchestrated group of “usual suspects” who spoke in favor of the college seemed uncertain this time around. John Ryan’s incoherent reasoning only succeeded in confirming the only motive for “stopping” Ms. Gonzalez was because it would cost the town money! Great politics, Mr. Ryan. Cash before concern. Pennies before principle. He also suggested the college would “put Loxahatchee Groves on the map.” Well, a nuclear holocaust put Hiroshima on the map, John, but it would be difficult to argue it was good for the town.

Other pro-college speakers confused their ideology, lurching pointlessly from being pro the college and therefore “against” the petition to therefore anti-democracy to maybe wanting a traffic survey?

Only Ms. Gonzalez demonstrated true feeling, her passion clear. Her voice wavered, but her principles did not. She won several more supporters, even in a room largely filled with detractors and council orchestrated orators.

But (yawn) as I wrote before, I’m personally ambivalent about the college. That’s not what this is about. I know it must be frustrating when that darned democracy thing gets in the way of politicians getting what they want, but this is still America, isn’t it?

Once more I say to the mayor and council: dig deep. Be men. Stop sacrificing freedom to funding. Find some statesmanship. Tell yourself the truth; Todd McLendon was absolutely right to remind you, whether you agree with him and Ms. Gonzalez or not, you must defend their rights to speak freely. Anything other is against everything that made the United States great and a brutal betrayal of the young men and women fighting and, as you read this, dying in foreign wars to ensure our freedom of speech.

If you cannot find it in yourselves to do that, gentlemen, you cannot consider yourselves fit for government and must resign immediately. And go live in Cuba where your style of governance will be welcomed.

I have a feed business in Loxahatchee Groves. Many residents rely on us. Because I have dared speak out for freedom, I have been threatened with code violations by the town. I will, of course, be writing to the Town-Crier as their actions unfold. One hopes the media, the people’s last hope in an oppressive regime, will not shrink from its duty.

Tim Hart-Woods
Loxahatchee Groves