LETTERS: BCC misses opportunity to display transparency

J.B. Hillard

I didn’t attend the Walton County Board of County Commissioners last week but wish I had.  

I did read some emails and a news report after the meeting and received a phone call. Except for Commissioner Meadows, this is about the board position on the agenda item related to a presentation on the Driftwood Estates situation.

Based on what I know of the Driftwood case and what I have read and been told this case was on the agenda for discussion. I feel it was a mistake for the representatives not to be allowed to speak at the meeting. In spite of the fact the case is being litigated this was a legitimate agenda request to speak and it should have been allowed.  

Even if no action was taken, the party should have had the opportunity to address a new and reconstitute commission.   

It is not uncommon for new ideas and new discussions to come forward on a litigated matter after an election and new people are seated. It is not uncommon for changes and settlements to be reached that make a court challenge go away. I’m not implying this should occur in the Driftwood case, but the opportunity was there and anything is possible.

The BCC action to deny the opportunity of possibility is a failure, and an opportunity missed.

What upsets me the most is this gives the public appearance of business as usual for the Board of County Commissioners.  An opportunity was missed to show the public otherwise.

I sincerely hope all of he commissioners will be more careful in the future on such matters and take actions that will restore public confidence in county government. Actions to deny opportunity for potential new directions and positive change is not the way to go about it.

Remember those campaign promises: Transparency, open government, and restore faith in county government? Have they already been forgotten?

J. B. Hillard

DeFuniak Springs 

Why squelch speech?

BCC fanning the flames

An open letter to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners:

While I was of necessity out of state and unable to attend the recent BCC meeting, I have kept in touch with others who were there. I was gravely disappointed in the vote to deny representatives of Driftwood the opportunity to address the new commission. I recall something about the right of citizens to petition their government somewhere in the hazy recesses of memories of American history and political science studies of long ago.

To deny citizens the right to speak in a public forum in a civil manner in order that they might bring to the attention of the new members of the BCC their grievance is a grave misjudgment in my view — one which augurs poorly for better relations between the BCC and the citizens of Walton County. This is not a good start.

I am not using this occasion to speak to the merits of Driftwood's petition. Rather, I speak in defense of their right to be heard, a right that I find you as a body have unwisely abrogated by your vote. I urge that you reconsider this fundamental error in judgment and that it not be repeated in this or any other case. You have done yourselves as a body and the citizens whom you have been elected to represent a serious disservice by this action.

There has been a substantial mistrust of the BCC and its motives and actions in the time preceding this last election. If you do not believe it your job, your near-sacred responsibility, to rekindle the fires of trust that the last commission effectively extinguished, I would urge you to reconsider your position. Walton County deserves better.

Commissioner Meadows, thank you for honoring the constitutional rights of the citizens. I hope I may repeat those thanks many times over to each of you in future.

Don Riley, M.D.

Miramar Beach