Censorship by St. Pete Beach Mayor Lowe?
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Dear Mayor Lowe

I was shocked to read in the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday that you intend to restrict and limit audience comments at the upcoming Special Commission meeting this Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6pm to the topic of Mike Bonfield’s severance package/contract and “not challenge the commission’s action.”. Unless the Times misquoted you, your intended restriction of public comment on the Commission’s recent surprise and unnoticed decision to fire the City Manager flies in the face of your own statements made earlier at that same Commission meeting on April 22, 2014.

To refresh your memory, you may want to watch the discussion concerning the Rules and Procedures for the commission meetings that took place on April 22, 2014 – just one week ago. At the 2:59 mark-Deborah Schechner comes to the podium and speaks against Jim Parent’s suggestion to limit the time of the meetings. After that, City Attorney Churuti says that comments should be in response to what is on the resolution. You ask for clarification. Churuti says that limiting the time of the meeting was not in the final form of the resolution therefore not relevant.

You, Mayor Lowe respond “I am not censuring audience comments” then you say it again “ I am not censuring audience comments period!”. (clap by audience)

Then you have a brief discussion with the City Attorney about sunshine training the Commission just completed. After that you say “I will hold the time, but if they feel that what they are saying is applicable . . . “I AM NOT STOPPING THEM WHETHER I LIKE IT OR NOT, THAT IS NOT FOR ME TO DICTATE”.

If you were misquoted in the Times, just say so and the residents will expect a full and open opportunity to voice their opinions regarding Mr. Bonfield’s terms of termination as well as the termination itself. If you were not misquoted in the Times newspaper, then I believe you may have yet another issue you need to explain to your constituents as your call for censorship not only violates Resolution 2014-04 just passed by the St. Pete Beach Commission on April 22, 2014, it neither squares with your statements quoted above nor your call for transparent and open government during your very recent campaign.

Deborah Martohue
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