An Inconvenient Truth Shadows Bean at Workshop

By Mike Lednovich

Mayor Bradley Bean.

There’s a well-known television commercial with the tagline, “Like it never even happened.”

Mayor Bradley Bean employed that tactic at last Tuesday’s city commission workshop discussion regarding public comment and whether speakers would be allowed to ask commissioners questions.

During the workshop, Bean was oblivious to his behavior one month ago when he shut down Corrine Garrett, a public speaker who confronted commissioners with a series of questions. Bean told Garrett, “This is not a question and answer time.” When she persisted with more questions, Bean said, “This is not a (commissioner) comment period.”

As a result of that May 7 exchange, Commissioner Chip Ross proposed changing the commission’s rules of procedure to permit speakers to ask questions during their public comments.

“At meetings, it’s been said people can’t ask a question. So I think instead of doing public comment, they can ask a specific question during those three minutes (allowed speaking) of items not on the agenda. I think it would make meetings more transparent, give people more opportunity to participate in government and it’s the right thing to do,” Ross said.

Twice during the workshop discussion, Bean proclaimed that questions to commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting had always been allowed.

When introducing Ross’ proposed changes to allow questions, Bean said, “I would say, the public is always welcome to comment on any item and that comment can ask questions and that certainly has always been allowed. That’s been our procedure as long as I’ve been here,” Bean declared. “Freedom of speech also includes the freedom not to speak. Just because someone is asked a question doesn’t mean they’re forced to respond.”

Bean then allowed Commissioner Ross to introduce his changes.

After Ross spoke, Bean responded, “This (asking a question) is currently allowed, every speaker gets three minutes. If they want to use it to ask a question and just pause for an indefinite amount of time and can ask another question, that is currently allowed. This is something that is already the same, adding this wouldn’t add anything to our process.”

Much later in the workshop, Ross summarized what commissioners had agreed on including, “Anybody who comes to the podium can ask a question as opposed to giving a public comment.”

Bean maintained, “Commissioner Ross that’s always been the case.”

Ross fired back, “That’s a little disingenuous. Several meetings ago, a lady came up here and kept asking and you said this is not an appropriate time to ask questions. It was specifically said to her you cannot ask questions. I want to change that. What you’re saying now is that any one who comes up here can ask questions of any city commissioner or to the mayor and they’re (commissioners/mayor) going to say they’re going to answer it or not answer it.”

Bean, with support from Vice Mayor David Sturges and Commissioner Darron Ayscue, also dismissed two other changes regarding public input. First, Ross sought to have public comment scheduled to the front of the city commission agenda instead of near the end.

Second, Ross proposed the city commission conduct a monthly town hall for residents to voice their concerns and ask commissioners specific questions.

Bean said he holds his own town hall meeting monthly at the Nassau Council on Aging and suggested Ross start conducting his own town hall sessions.

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Mark Tomes
Active Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
4 days ago

Some of the confusion stems from Bean’s confusing a member of the public asking a question and a commissioner answering it. If I remember correctly, he did not believe (appropriately) that public comment was a time that a commissioner should respond. But he did specifically say a month ago that it was not time for questions, whereas he is now changing his tune. A question is certainly a type of comment, whether a commissioner responds to it or not.

jfindlay
Noble Member
jfindlay(@jfindlay)
4 days ago

Commissioners should allow questions and should respond to them. There is an election coming up soon in August.

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
4 days ago
Reply to  jfindlay

I think it may be November now…..there are not more than 2 candidates for any seat, so the August Primary should no longer involve the FBCC. November may break our 2020 turnout record with the Presidential election also. I hope to be first in line at early balloting at the Atlantic Rec Center in October!

RDeem
Active Member
RDeem(@rdeem)
4 days ago

First, Bean haired a workshop on public discussion that did not allow a public comment period. Bean, Sturgis and Ayscus spent their time on how to prevent items from coming up for discussion. While Bean has recused himself on votes, Ayscue and Sturgis have blocked the Commission from holding a public forum to air and address widespread public concerns about safety and code violation issues with the proposed ethanol plant. .Please speak up when public discussion and agenda issues are discussed at an upcoming Commission meeting. Urge Commissioners to: 1. Restore the public comment period on non-agenda items to its earlier place on the agenda before Ayscue pushed to move it near the end of the agenda. 2. Provide an opportunity for public comments at all Commission workshops and visioning sessions. 3.Require the City Commission to hold periodic town hall meetings (once a month or at least quarterly) where the public can raise issues, pose questions and engage in a two way dialogue with City Commissioners.

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
4 days ago

Mike L……I have never voted for Bean, but your constant pounding on every word he says is getting a little tedious. Obviously your 2 overlapping years and subsequent failure to be reelected has left you with an axe to grind regarding Bradley. I understand it…..but I don’t care for the optics of the constant criticism.

Steve Vogel
Active Member
Steve Vogel(@stevedec)
4 days ago

The circus goes on. Only the ringmaster changes.

MB
Member
MB(@mb)
4 days ago

Same stuff over and over again

Hdhntr49
Trusted Member
Hdhntr49(@hdhntr49)
4 days ago

(Steve) They ought to at least have cotton candy and peanut and popcorn for sale at the door……just sayin…..

Paula M
Noble Member
Paula M(@paula-m)
4 days ago

Bean sure does a lot of flip flopping and double speak..thinks he may be king.

MB
Member
MB(@mb)
4 days ago
Reply to  Paula M

Your accusing him of being a dictator?

Paula M
Noble Member
Paula M(@paula-m)
4 days ago
Reply to  MB

no ..not ACCUSUNG him of anything.

MyFernandina
Trusted Member
MyFernandina(@myfernandina)
4 days ago

It is clear that Mike is carrying Genice’s water here—attack Bean so she can benefit.
We are indeed in silly season.

How anyone can take him (M) seriously as a reporter is beyond me.
As a pundit with an axe–certainly.

“Report” on!

Betsie Huben
Famed Member
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
4 days ago

While everyone continues to try to hold the current commissioner’s feet to the fire – do your homework and make plan to VOTE for the folks who are not afraid to take your questions and provide answers. The future of our city depends on you – not them.

MyFernandina
Trusted Member
MyFernandina(@myfernandina)
3 days ago
Reply to  Betsie Huben

Yes–keep those in office who act for the good of the city–don’t replace them with unknowns whose intentions are not in line with our Fernandina’s welfare and prosperity.

WaynesBit
Noble Member
WaynesBit(@waynesbit)
2 days ago

OK that’s it – I am running for Mayor of Yulee. And we will have a real question time, just like the UK Parliament.

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