Wakulla County Censorship?

By: Valerie Lacy
By: Valerie Lacy

For years Wakulla County meetings have been recorded and broadcast for residents who want to stay in touch with what's going on, and for years citizens have been able to voice their opinions on camera.

Monday night that came to an end. Just as the residents stepped up to the mic, cameras turned off.

"It's time for citizen comments. Let's turn the cameras off."

But that was only after five hours of debate where earlier residents tried to convince commissioners to allow them to have their three minutes on tape.

"If you pass this item, Wakulla County will be living under a dictatorship."

"I spent the productive years of my adult life supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States. It pains me, it really does, to see those efforts to trample on those basic rights described in that document."

But some feel public comment has become a forum for grandstanding and political moves.

"Citizens to be heard, all they do is bash the county commission, bash the county attorney. Nobody says anything constructive."

In the end the commission voted three to two to turn off the cameras just before citizen comments, raising the ire of some residents at the meeting.

"That is a shame; you are in violation of our rights."

"We're gonna take a five minute recess."

"You should take a 50-year recess."

And with that, the cameras went dark. Commission Chair Maxie Lawhon, who helped come up with the idea of turning off cameras, did not return our phone calls. One resident has written a letter to the ACLU asking for help to fight what he calls censorship.


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