An progressively heated dispute between two nearby Santa Rosa County elected officers achieved a boiling level at Tuesday’s county fee meeting, with accusations of racism, discrimination and own vendettas being thrown all over amongst clerk of courtroom Donald Spencer and District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker.
The four-hour lengthy workshop, which comprised mostly of conventional county organization, ended with Parker requesting to make a handful of feedback not on the agenda.
In his prepared remarks, Parker brought up a dispute from the week prior amongst he and Spencer, in which Spencer challenged Parker’s charitable donations because he claimed they didn’t have the right paperwork.
1 of Parker’s charitable donations was a $200 donation to Milton High University basketball phenom Jada Savage, who is 1 of only two substantial faculty basketball gamers in Florida invited to perform at an global basketball event in Spain this summer time.
At the Dec. 10 board meeting, all five commissioners pledged to donate to Savage’s fundraising initiatives for the excursion at the request of Black local community chief Murray Hamilton, saying she would make Santa Rosa County proud on an international level.
However, at the Jan. 7 conference previous week, when Parker sought to have the board approve 11 different charitable donations — a regular technique for each individual commissioners’ leisure cash — Spencer took issue with Parker’s listing of charities, notably Savage’s, due to the fact there was not “appropriate paperwork” documenting the donations’ community service.
“We just can’t spend for her to go to Europe and engage in ball, that would possibly be a massive purple flag for me,” Spencer stated at the Jan. 7 meeting, including that he would refuse to indicator the check to Savage even if all 5 commissioners accredited it.
At the very same meeting, Spencer demanded Parker resign the following day. Parker did not resign.
The general public dispute involving Parker and Spencer began a pair of months previously when Parker abruptly added an agenda product at the Dec. 10 assembly to hearth board lawyer Roy Andrews, which handed.
On Tuesday, at the close of the workshop assembly just as Board Chairman Dave Piech was finding completely ready to adjourn, Parker asked for a couple of minutes to make a remark. He mentioned he “hates to be the a person to tackle this difficulty,” but reported he felt it was his duty to address conduct that could be witnessed as “offensive or discriminatory.”
“At initially, I felt that Clerk Donald Spencer’s feedback for the duration of the early portion of our Jan. 7 meeting relating to the board’s vote to terminate the former county attorney had been an attempt to assault me individually, mainly because I brought the concern forward, and the clerk and the former county attorney are excellent good friends and searching buddies,” Parker claimed, studying from a prepared statement. “I can manage private criticism. However, based mostly on subsequent steps by Clerk Spencer, I feel like his opinions may well have been aspect of a deliberate ongoing exertion to undermine the decisions of the Board of County Commissioners.
“Associates of the local community attained out to me next last week’s meeting and expressed their fears about how the clerk applied his situation to solitary out an exemplary African American feminine scholar athlete in our local community and try to end her from acquiring financial support that the Board of County Commissioners experienced previously pledged to supply her with,” Parker added.
The commissioner insinuated that if Spencer’s steps weren’t a particular vendetta to get back again at him for major the demand to hearth Andrews, it may well have been racially determined.
“He (Spencer) explained that his steps have been not due to a private vendetta, so I can comprehend why some people today have questioned me if his new actions have been meant to undermine this board’s choices, or had been his actions a final result of inner thoughts that he harbors about individuals who have a different pores and skin shade,” Parker said, at which place Piech abruptly adjourned the conference.
Spencer readily denies statements of racism
In a cellular phone interview with the Information Journal soon after the meeting, Spencer refuted any allegations of racism or discrimination, and said his objections to Parker’s charitable donations ended up just since of a lack of right paperwork documenting just how every dollar would be put in by the provided charity.
“Not at all,” Spencer replied when asked if he singled out Savage’s charitable donation due to the fact of her skin color. “All I’m trying to do, the purpose I denied the fundraising on all those charities proper now, is simply because they really don’t have any documentation to again up how the money is currently being invested for a community gain. By the legal professional general’s report they have to have a prepared arrangement, and they have to say how the money’s likely to be invested for general public objective, and there was no documentation for any of these 11 charities that they desired to give the funds to.
“And why Sam said it is racist, is further than me,” he extra.
Spencer, who is a non-voting member of the Board of County Commissioners and an elected constitutional officer, does have the power to deny issuing a test versus the will of the board, despite the fact that it is really unheard of.
“If the county commissioners say they are going to commit the income to go invest in a yacht, and all five of them vote to obtain the yacht, and then I produce the check to acquire the yacht, I go to jail,” he said. “That’s how potent the clerk is and why I glance at it so carefully.”
Spencer explained he is a shut buddy of ousted attorney Roy Andrews and claimed he went on a looking vacation with Andrews and eight other adult men previous calendar year, but he explained he would not think about Andrews a “most effective mate.”
“This has almost nothing to do with any form of friendship,” Spencer explained of his beef with Parker. “I’ve acknowledged Roy, and half of Milton has recognised Roy, for yrs, but he’s not what I would look at my finest friend.”
Piech: “None of that these days was the people’s operate”
Murray Hamilton, the neighborhood chief who to begin with arrived to the board on Dec. 10 to question for assist for Savage, instructed the News Journal on Tuesday that he wished county officials would depart other folks out of their disputes.
“I’d just like for them (the board) to be expert about it, and no matter what personal matters that they have heading on, to choose it amongst themselves to perform that out and not deliver any person else into it,” Murray said.
Piech, the board chairman, agreed, telling the News Journal immediately after the meeting the kind of arguments concerning Parker and Spencer have “no position in county enterprise.”
“We’re there to do the people’s enterprise and the county’s enterprise, and if it is personal and there are vendettas, really do not get up the county’s time,” Piech mentioned. “My impression is that we’re there to do the people’s perform, and none of that currently was the people’s do the job.”
Piech reported that he personally did not interpret Spencer’s reviews about the charities to be racially enthusiastic, but would not price cut other people’s opinions if they viewed them as these kinds of.
“Commissioner Parker mentioned he had read that from folks, and though I really don’t seem at it that way and it didn’t come off that way to me, discrimination and racism is an interpretation by individuals,” he explained. “I’m not a person to say no matter if they need to be offended or not, but I can convey to you from the place I sat, these ideas did not even enter my head.”
Annie Blanks can be achieved at [email protected] or 850-435-8632.