Shut down the circus

Dear Editor:

Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey retired the circus but did not include Starke City Hall and city commissioners in the closure. Unfortunate for the citizens of Starke. 

Let me first say to our Police Chief Jeff Johnson that I wish him the best retirement in the world. Despite the 104-page character assassination presented at city hall, Jeff Johnson has done a splendid job for the citizens of this fine city for many years. I have always felt safe and secure with him in office and overseeing police officers who responded well to calls and dedicated themselves to keeping us safe. I am, have been and will be proud to call Jeff a trustworthy man and friend.

City commissioners who simply want to turn everything in our city over to the county should simply resign and go run for county commissioner. The city of Starke does not need a city manager, especially an overpaid one who is not loyal to the citizens of the city, as he appears ready to destroy or sell what we have. And to make him city clerk is simply a joke.

I do not know what caused the FDLE raid on city hall or what affected the city election that was referenced and resulted in the city clerk resigning. I believe, of course, that those details should be make available to the public in an expeditious manner. City hall has been in turmoil for the last eight to 10 years, receiving bad audits with little being done to correct that situation. 

At least one city commissioner, who ran for police chief and lost to Jeff Johnson, has been exceedingly critical of and outspoken against the police chief. In the 104-page diatribe against Jeff Johnson, it is made clear that he resented the chief being an elected official, not appointed by or accountable to a city manager, whose position comes under an ordinance and not the city charter. 

The city charter provided for both the police chief and city clerk to be elected by the people, and this has served us well for a long time. In recent years, the city commission and city manager have tried to usurp duties delegated to the city clerk in the charter. Hopefully, in the future the city commissioners will allow the people a voice in such major changes through charter revision referendums.

In recent years, some pushed to have the city clerk become an appointed position and that referendum failed. The people spoke. As for giving the police department to the sheriff, while paying him highly to accept the gift, all news reports from city commission meetings where this was discussed indicated that city commissioners resented the people who spoke against such a move and ignored them, with some even speaking out against them. 

Sad state of affairs. And my hat is off to, and my appreciation goes to my friend, Commissioner Danny Nugent, for trying to keep our city when others want to give it away. It appears now that we need to create a Starke utility commission to take care of our utilities with sufficient staff, then close down city hall, retire the city commission and cut out the clown acts.


James Powell