Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Charter Review Board Has Role

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Charter Review Board Has Role

Article excerpt

COMMENTARY

Though I share her dislike of the proposal to create a so-called citizens grand jury, I was scratching my head a bit while reading Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson's comments after the Charter Review Board considered it.

The review board's 4-4 vote killed the nutty proposal. Good thing.

And it was only a proposal to study the idea in the first place, so, no harm done. It isn't as if the Charter Review Board went totally off the rails in response to a few dozen people who showed up to back the grand jury idea.

Some board members just apparently knew too little about the idea and its backers to reject it out of hand, it seems.

And really, in theory, the notion of a citizens board designed to ferret out government officials who exceed their authority or otherwise should be charged with crimes isn't nutty on its face. It is just unnecessary and, as some board members may not have realized, much prone to be embraced primarily by people who would love to indict almost every public official in sight.

As a news story by the Herald-Tribune's Lee Williams explained, many of the backers are connected to the sovereign citizen movement

and its extreme and quirky beliefs that many government actions, no matter how solidly upheld by the courts, are still somehow illegal.

That movement's view of government officials and government policies and government anything is much like a pest control technician's view of roaches. Their idea of a citizens grand jury is about forming a body led by like-minded zealots suddenly empowered to do away with everything from the IRS to police arrest powers by declaring many government agencies to be criminal operations.

Are all the supporters that extreme? Probably not. Some just tag along and like the idea of outlawing some taxes and arresting a few politicians they don't like.

County Commissioner Robinson seemed to take affront at the idea of the board even considering a study of the idea, and I can understand that. It is reasonable to have preferred an 8-0 vote against the idea. Existing grand juries are fully capable of indicting elected officials who need it without witch hunts targeting every official the sovereign citizens dislike. …

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