Repairing the Damage
Dear Editor: As [Gulfport] City Council saw fit to bring the subject up from the dais (again) on Tuesday, March 16, I thought it may be worthwhile to redirect the conversation.
If you are more concerned about people spreading the message the “n-word” is racist, vile and inappropriate to use or condone the usage of in any way, shape or form (spoiler alert: This is not breaking news to most people) rather than being horrified at the long history and our deeply present racism in this country and this community – you’re concerned about the wrong thing.
Your words have meaning. Choose what publicly angers you wisely.
Racism is wrong. Using the n-word today, five years ago, or 50 years ago is wrong. Let’s focus on repairing the damage that has already been done, and not get distracted by anything, or anyone, else. – Kate Bauer-Jones
Brown Owes the Community an Apology
Dear Editor: Christine Anne Brown said, “Never in the history of Gulfport has there been such a nasty, nasty, hate-filled campaign…”
I beg to differ. There have been elections in Gulfport which have been just as down and dirty. Remember Councilmember Michele King? Perhaps 2007 wasn’t a problem because Christine Anne Brown wasn’t on the receiving end of the nastiness.
During the same time frame, then-Mayor Mike Yakes was running for re-election. I was shocked to see a campaign sign – in Christine Brown’s yard – proclaiming, “Dump Yakes.” This wasn’t a good look for someone who wanted to represent our town, and potentially work with that very mayor. It didn’t give me a good impression of Ms. Brown then, either.
In this recent election, Christine Brown was re-elected with just over 52% of the vote. I’m not sure that result should embolden Ms. Brown. To me, the results say that the voters of Gulfport are dissatisfied with Ms. Brown’s representation.
The rant that was delivered during the March 16, 2021 council meeting reflects more on Christine Anne Brown than anyone. I’m guessing there were many folks in Gulfport who had no idea about any conflicts or mudslinging that was brought upon Ms. Brown and her family during this recent election. While I am sure it was frightening and upsetting, a council meeting is no place to air election grievances against a fellow council person.
It is also no place for Mayor Henderson or councilmembers to defend Ms. Brown – or anyone on council – for what was assumed to be dirty election maneuverings.
April Thanos was elected by a majority of voters in 2020. In my opinion, the COVID-19 challenges of the past year have put Ms. Thanos at a disadvantage on council. She remains an outsider, even though she continues to have the support of voters who elected her. It is my wish that an extra effort be made to be respectful to Ms. Thanos. She is putting forth ideas from the community that she represents and who she is listening to.
All of you on council, Mayor Henderson, City Manager O’Reilly – every one of you – is expected to work for the citizens of Gulfport, not to snipe at each other about real or imagined rumors and election shenanigans.
Ms. Brown owes April Thanos and the community an apology for delivering this unprofessional and accusatory tirade during the council meeting. Then you all need to move forward. – Julie McNichol, Gulfport
Put Aside Petty Politics
Dear Editor: I was astounded hearing the remarks made by Councilwoman Christine Brown during the Gulfport City Council meeting March 16, 2021.
To make unfounded accusations that Councilwoman April Thanos was responsible for the release, by a blogger, of an interview Christine and her husband gave a few years ago that has now “threatened” her family was egregious at best and inappropriate at least.
She also intimated that Ms. Thanos was out of line recruiting someone to run against her. Really? I was under the impression a little competition is good for, and part of, the democratic process.
Where to start? First April has consistently stated she did not provide the article to the blogger. No proof has been forthcoming and in fact Christine told the Gabber that she does not have any proof. Therein lies the slanderous lie perpetrated by Councilwoman Brown that inherently accuses April of being a liar! In addition, Christine and her husband sat for the interview in which her husband used the “N….” word with Christine condoning his behavior. So if there is any backlash to the article, it is on them and their words, which are in the public arena. You would think she would like to put this behind her and not persist in reminding the citizens of Gulfport about it. Guess lobbing false accusations toward Ms. Thanos was more important.
As to recruiting a candidate to run against Christine, as if this were an egregious act, is disingenuous at best. One would hope if you are going to run for office you would not be so thin skinned as to disparage someone for recruiting competition. Is this not part of the democratic process?
To use the platform of the city council to air disgruntled feelings and put forth unsupported accusations against a fellow councilwoman was unprofessional, embarrassing and a misuse of our city government platform.
That no one stopped the rant does not reflect well on the councilmembers who sat by and let her continue.
It is time for the Gulfport City Councilmembers to put on their big boy pants, treat everyone with respect and get on with the business of the city. The petty bickering and disrespect only reflect poorly on the city and our electoral choices. Embarrassed in Gulfport. – Bonnie C. Sklaren, Gulfport
Council Works for the People
Dear Editor: Regardless of who one votes for or not in an election in Gulfport, once the candidate is sworn into office, they are an employee of the City of Gulfport. Their salary, however large or small, is paid by the taxpayers. We, the taxpayers, are not your employees rather you are our employees. You are hired to work for the taxpayers and residents – to do the people’s work and attend to city business. You are not hired to air personal grievances and fight with other members of the dais as though you are middle schoolers on the playground – not on our time and not on our dime. Do any of you think that your employer – or any employer – would approve of such in the workplace?
Mayor Henderson, Vice Mayor Thanos, Councilmembers Brown, Ray and Fridovich, I don’t care who said what or who blamed whom, what happened at the end of the last council meeting on March 16 and on February 2, as well as other times throughout the past year, breaks the very rules that you, yourselves, have written for meeting decorum: “all members of council shall display the utmost courtesy to each other.” There are no winners when such decorum is not upheld, there are only losers, the biggest being the people.
The city council – every member – that participated in the despicable behavior of March 16, and those who did nothing to stop it, owe the taxpayers/residents an apology! Let us hope that we never witness such again and that the good name of Gulfport, Florida is never again besmirched as it was! – M. Tober, Gulfport