AVON PARK — Debate over what type of U.S. Constitution-supportive resolution the Board of County Commission should approve continued Tuesday into the night at a town hall meeting.
County Commissioner Don Elwell endeavored to give attendees a rundown of the timeline associated with a recent move to enact a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Arlene Tuck.
The latest update in that saga is that the County Commission plans at the Feb. 4 meeting, a night meeting at 5:30 p.m., to review both Tuck’s original resolution and a new resolution, a hybrid of resolutions prepared by Elwell and County Attorney Joy Carmichael, that professes support for all the U.S. Constitution and its amendments.
Elwell said one of the concerns he and other commissioners had was Tuck’s timing, especially after he saw a social media post from Tuck’s granddaughter on the weekend prior to the Dec. 3, 2019 County Commission meeting, stating Tuck planned to bring up such a resolution at the next meeting.
It was at a time that was too late to get the matter on the published agenda, Elwell said, and thus any discussion at that meeting on the matter would have been without public notice.
When it came up at the Dec. 3 meeting, Tuck’s motion died for a lack of a second, and Elwell suggested a resolution in support of all the U.S. Constitution, but Commission Chair Ron Handley said there was no need, citing the fact that all commissioners took an oath of office that pledges to support both the federal and state constitutions.
However, for some of those in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting, a comprehensive resolution in support of the whole U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the rest of the amendments is not specific enough.
In turn, Elwell argued that a comprehensive resolution allows the County Commission to send a motion of protest to the Florida Legislature any time legislators consider any law that infringes on Constitutional freedoms, including due process under the Fourth Amendment.
Asking for a show of hands, Elwell got a majority of the 70-80 people at his meeting who don’t feel a Second Amendment resolution is needed.
Still, at least one attendee argued that the question of what type of resolution the county adopts should go to a voter referendum instead of a County Commission vote.
The attendee also said Second Amendment sanctuaries are in 29 states, but Elwell argued that not every county in those states have adopted such resolutions.
Tuck, at the County Commission meeting that morning, had said 23 of Florida’s 67 counties had declared themselves as Second Amendment sanctuaries, which Elwell pointed out is approximately a third of the state.
At least two other attendees stated that they believe there is a move to remove the self-armament protections of the Second Amendment, and that “a piece of paper” won’t be enough if not backed by action.
Elwell has also said that a resolution is not enforceable if it conflicts with federal or state law.
In other matters, Elwell spoke with attendees about the county’s garbage and recycling collection contract. For the last three years, residents have paid approximately $40-$45 more than under the previous contract to have curbside recycling as part of the service.
Collection dropped to one day per week, on which separate trucks would collect garbage and recyclable materials.
The difficulty, Elwell said, is that there is no market for recycling right now, given that the largest market, China, has imposed strict standards on what loads it will accept.
Recently, India — the second-largest market, also with more than one billion people — is now also turning away loads, Elwell said.
There may be stateside companies that might take the materials he said, but for now the hauler has no profit motive to mark a load as clean enough to recycle. Any slight contamination and it gets marked as “spoiled” and dumped in the landfill.
The county can’t renegotiate the contract, Elwell said, without risking higher rates and also can’t impose penalties without risking the company abandoning the contract completely.
Another matter for concern, Elwell said, are speeds on the new Panther Parkway. County Engineer Clinton Howerton Jr. reported to the Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization last week that 80% of motorists heading northbound on the 4.3-mile road are driving 51-52 mph, an average of 6-7 mph faster than the posted 45 mph limit.
Southbound traffic is going faster, Howerton said: 63 mph. Elwell took another show of hands, and most at him meeting favored a 55 mph limit as an accommodation while still prescribing a safe speed.