Tanner Andrews mug

Tanner Andrews

Congratulations to the Deltona City Commission. They are learning what people think of them, hearing about it in great detail. There are still towns in which the ancestry of the commissioners is uncertain, but Deltona is no longer among their number.

It may take some adjustment. For instance, the commissioners have set up a magnetometer at the door to the commission chambers. Everyone must be scanned in order to attend the meeting, because some commissioners have been wounded by pointed words.

This is a sort of safety measure. Admittedly, scanning guards against no real threat whatever. Still, as a kind of security theatre, it makes the commissioners feel safer.

It kind of makes sense. There is evidence of a felon who regularly attends the meetings. Unfortunately, she is the city manager, and they probably have to let her in despite her multiple felonies.

At least, if they screen her, there is less risk of her sneaking in a Gatling gun to rob the city treasury. Regrettably, that leaves the problem of unhappy citizens commenting on whether she should go back to El Paso. Some people have been downright rude about it.

Commissioners say they want more civility. That should come from the top, but Deltona commissioners are the paradigm bad examples. They trespassed people who caught them breaking the law. They brought bogus criminal charges against someone seeking public records.

One expects these sorts of confidence-building measures in a tin-pot dictatorship. Or Deltona, of course. When things get bad, you do what you must to silence your critics.

Part of the problem may be that City Manager Jane Shang is in over her head. Her previous job duties were, essentially, to stay away from City Hall and to not bother anyone. I have no doubt of her competence in that role. She may be less competent in fulfilling other responsibilities.

The public notices and says mean things about Shang. This makes the commission nervous. They need their security blankets, or, failing that, a magnetometer. Commissioner Nabicht wants to hear nothing but flattery, yet the citizenry do not seem so inclined.

Fear explains not only the magnetometer, but also a new civility requirement. No disruptive criticism, please. The problem is that disruptive is a very broad term, which is why we can guess what Commissioner Nabicht is thinking — sure hope the slurping sounds from licking Shang’s boots are not deemed disruptive!

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.