Series of Speakers Condemn County Commission for Robert E. Lee Proclamation by Mitch E. Perry

WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday

In the wake of their approving proclamations honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee & a local civil rights activist at the same time last month, the Hillsborough County Commissioners agreed today on a new screening policy to prevent such embarrassing actions from happening in the future.

The incident last month prompted strong criticism, particularly from the Black Community.  That continued this morning, first from Carolyn Hepburn , the first Vice President of the Hillborough County NAACP.  She said proclaiming 2007 the year of Lee was excessive (roll tape#1 o.q.”an offense”)

When the incident honoring both Lee and James Hammond happened at the January 18th meeting, the entire County Commission remained silent.  The only black member of the board, Kevin White, has been blasted for remaining silent.  He attempted to defend that silence (roll tape#2 o.q.” total surprise”)

White said he thought the back to back honors was ’culturally insensitive’, but said he was sure that the Board meant no harm.   He said he wasn’t prepared to make an incident out of it at the time (roll tape#3 o.q.”any fashion, but…”)

Commissioner Rose Ferlita said she spoke after the incident to Hillsborough NAACP head Curtis Stokes and said there was no good explanation for what happened last month (roll tape#4 o.q.”given to him”)

County Commission Chairman Jim Norman has been on the Board for 15 years.  He also acknowledged that the actions last month were a mistake, , but says in its own way, the County has made progress regarding honoring Robert E. Lee over the years (roll tape#5 o.q.” attached to”)

Ken Anthony lost out to Kevin White for the Commission Sea last November.   He told White and his colleagues that it didn’t matter to him that the Commission honored Robert E. Lee and James Hammond nearly simultaneously .  He asked, ,was the Board  acknowledging history with its proclamation to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Daughters of The Confederacy,  or a celebration ?(roll tape#5 o.q.”want to send out”)

Tampa Activist Michelle Patty thanked the commissioners for their apologies.   However,

(roll tape#6 o.q.”wrong with that”)

And Patty said that by sitting quietly by last month, the County Commissioners betrayed the idea that Tampa and Hillsborough County are in any way beacons of progress

(roll tape#7 o.q.” to go forward”)

Always outspoken citizen Mark Klutho added his opinion on what the Board did
(roll tape#8 o.q.”put a uniform on”)Commissioners agreed to have county staff review the four to 12 proclamations submitted each month to weed out those that might prove controversial.  The county will also end the practice of having commissioners sign blank proclamation forms that staff members fill out later.

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