I’ve attended — and covered as a reporter — virtually every meeting of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors for the last five plus years but the shameful display of some of the 27 people who attended Wednesday night’s budget session was — without a doubt — the most disgusting and rude behavior I have witnessed at any gathering of citizens in the county.
Some members of the crowd — most of whom identified themselves as members of the Floyd County tea party — talked loudly among themselves during the meeting, making it difficult for others in the audience to hear what the board was saying as they deliberated the tax rates for the coming fiscal year. They showed no consideration for others who attended the meeting to actually see and hear what their elected officials would do.
After several failed votes, the Supervisors finally approved tax rates for the coming year that includes a three-cent hike in real estate taxes (to 50 cents per $100 in assessed valuation) and a 25-cent increase in personal property taxes (to $2.95 per $100). The board had earlier recommended a hike of five cents on real estate and a whopping 75 cents in personal property.
The board also took the unprecedented step of assuming more control over the school system budget that eats up about 80 percent of the county expenditures each year.
Even though members of the audience had a chance to speak during the 35-minute public comment period, the conversations between some continued as the supervisors debated the audience. In the middle of this incredible study in rudeness was Floyd County Republican Party official Bob Smith and local activist Joe Montague but they weren’t the only ones.
Their behavior was a disgusting example of the breakdown of civility that has accompanied the rise of activist groups like the tea party and an indicator of how political activism has become more about disruption than reasoned debate. Some members of the group hurled comments at the board during deliberations and mocked the comments of some board members with exaggerated stage whispers.
Such behavior does not belong in public gatherings and those who engaged in it should be ashamed of themselves.