County Commission may change rules for swearing-in ceremonies


Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 8:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.

Proposed changes for the County Commission’s rules of procedure at meetings would encourage commissioners to limit discussion during swearing-in ceremonies of board members “to the ceremonial nature” of the event.

The shift in procedures comes after politically polarizing comments that Commissioner Paula DeLaney made in November during the swearing-in ceremony of Susan Baird, the first commissioner elected as a Republican since 1988.

DeLaney criticized candidates, voters and elected officials who believe it is possible to “starve government into greatness” and who oppose government programs for “taking my money to give to some less-worthy person.”

DeLaney said more affluent individuals should pay more in taxes than those less well-off or impoverished. DeLaney also displayed property tax bills on an overhead projector, including that of conservative radio talk show host Ed Braddy, a former Gainesville city commissioner.

County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson then requested changes to the county’s procedures.

“It’s supposed to be a celebration of sorts,” Pinkoson said. “We deal with controversial items all the time. As far as that meeting is concerned, we try to keep it light and make it a celebration”

The proposed new language that the County Attorney’s Office has prepared for oath of office ceremonies states the meeting “will be generally limited to ceremonial items” and that commissioners “should limit their comments to items that relate to the ceremonial nature of the oath ceremony meeting.”

County Attorney Dave Wagner noted that, under the First Amendment, commissioners could not be required to limit their comments to ceremonial items.

County commissioners briefly reviewed the proposed changes during their 10 a.m. informal meeting. The changes would have to come back for a formal vote at a future regular board meeting.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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