Get the latest BPR news delivered free to your inbox daily. SIGN UP HERE
A Florida school board meeting played out like a scene in a George Orwell novel when the chair of the board demanded a public speaker leave – not because she was violent or disorderly – but because she believed she was “about to” say something the board member didn’t like.
“At the last meeting, Shirley Brown was caught on the microphone…” Melissa Bakondy said, politely addressing the board before being interrupted by Chairwoman Jane Goodwin.
“Stop talking about school board members,” Goodwin said haughtily. “You’re done.”
“You cannot go and expound on school board members. I’ve told you, I’ve warned you several times,” the Democrat continued dismissively. “You’re done, goodbye.”
Although it sounded like Bakondy’s mic was cut off, she seemed to ask Goodwin the reason for her expulsion.
“You were about to say something horrible about Shirley Brown,” Goodwin said. “You’ve said things about me that were untrue. Leave, please.”
Goodwin persisted in her seemingly unconstitutional leadership over the local board and asked Bakondy “Do you have children in our school district?”
At this point a conservative board member interjected.
“That is not appropriate… You don’t get to ask people who come to a public meeting whether they have children or not. Period,” Board Member Bridget Ziegler said. “You are way out of line.”
A portion of the interaction was posted on social media by the Vice Chairman of the Republican Party Christian Ziegler, husband to the board member who called Goodwin out for her misbehavior.
Sarasota County (FL) School Board Chairman orders police to throw a citizen out of a Public Meeting because she was…”About to say something horrible…[About a School Board Member]” during her public comment.
How is this NOT a violation of the 1st Amendment? pic.twitter.com/cWJoLnNpN1
— Christian Ziegler 🇺🇸 (@ChrisMZiegler) April 21, 2022
Although the board wouldn’t hear her, Bakondy aired her grievances against the school board to ABC7.
“I believe my First Amendment rights were trampled on actually,” Bakondy said. “We have the right to petition our government. It doesn’t matter if we criticize them or give them praise, as a public official they should be able to feel criticism and praise.”
But the public evisceration of a polite taxpaying constituent’s First Amendment rights might just be the tip of the iceberg for what some people endure, as some noted on social media.
And this is what they do to us in PUBLIC… imagine what some of us are fighting behind the scenes. Even worse. So over how the three treat us parents and our children.
— Ashley Cote (@Ashers91187) April 21, 2022
I hope the parent files civil lawsuit against the school board member and against the law enforcement agency who violated her right in removing her from a public meeting who only attempted to discuss a matter that was part of the recorded minutes of the previous meeting.
— thomas charlton (@thomascharlton1) April 22, 2022
During the incident, Bakondy was surrounded by three officers with badges and “police” patches on their sleeves. However, the Sarasota Sheriff issued a statement online affirming that his deputies would not participate in such restrictions on citizens’ First Amendment rights.
(con’t) and emails from concerned citizens. As you will hear, our agency was not involved in this incident nor does Sheriff Hoffman condone the actions taken during the public comment process.
— SarasotaSheriff (@SarasotaSheriff) April 22, 2022
Ziegler criticized her colleague as being the “queen of no public input” in an interview with Fox News Digital and claimed that Goodwin and her two leftist cronies on the board hoped to crush parents’ right to free speech.
“Every citizen taxpayer and parent has a right to speak at public meetings and share their input,” Bakondy noted. “Ms. Goodwin doesn’t want to hear that. … This is the ultimate form of censorship, and they are destroying our school district, targeting parents and eliminating dissent.”
“I do have four children, and three of them will be going back to public school next year, and after this, I worry that they’re a target,” she said.
Ziegler also slammed Goodwin for her “inappropriate” question about whether Bakondy was a parent since the board is accountable to all taxpayers.
“We work for the people, the people are our bosses, the parents are our customers,” Ziegler said. “And it’s interesting when it comes to collecting taxes, it doesn’t seem like these qualifying questions are asked.”
“[Taxpayers] pay our salaries, they pay the money to run and operate the entire district and educate our students, and for them to be met with disdain and in such a hostile way is disgusting and very frustrating,” she added.
In March, public comment rules were enacted in Sarasota County that limited the ability of the public to participate in the public forum by reducing comments from three minutes to two minutes and forcing comments to be held to the end of the meeting.
The board debated the new rules for several months – and Ziegler voted against them – although they ultimately passed with a 3-2 vote.
Conservative board member Karen Rose told Fox News Digital that the board “spent four or five months, maybe more, on various reiterations of how to amend the public comment policy. If that doesn’t illustrate how out of touch their role is and what their job is to serve the public, I don’t know what is.”
DONATE TO BIZPAC REVIEW
Please help us! If you are fed up with letting radical big tech execs, phony fact-checkers, tyrannical liberals and a lying mainstream media have unprecedented power over your news please consider making a donation to BPR to help us fight them. Now is the time. Truth has never been more critical!
- ‘Big yikes!’ SNL cold open mocking Biden and Dems over midterms painfully unfunny - November 6, 2022
- Michael Moore ‘optimistic’ about Dems’ chances in midterms – because he doesn’t ‘live in a bubble’ - November 6, 2022
- ‘You mean women?’ Bette Midler encouragement to vote on behalf of ‘people with uteri’ doesn’t go well - October 30, 2022
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.