VIERA, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - A proposed "civility ordinance" is under consideration in Brevard County, born in response to controversial Facebook comments posted by a sitting commissioner.
A vote on that ordinance was tabled on Tuesday, after four other commissioners said they don't want to be responsible for policing comments made by their colleagues. As the chairwoman said, "mommy duty" is not her responsibility, and her co-commissioners agreed.
Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober has ruffled feathers so many times with his social media statements, a group of citizens has been pushing for the civility ordinance. The ordinance -- which would establish a code of conduct for meetings -- nearly went to a vote, but commissioners noted it does not apply to anything said away from chambers.
At the very last minute, the proposal was pulled. Commissioner John Tobia introduced it and ultimately retracted it. His four fellow commissioners said they would vote no, so he said, it is best to let it go
"I think it's unfortunately troubling that elected officials in all levels can make comments to individuals that are just trying to make government a better place," Tobia said.
This was not the outcome many in Brevard County were hoping for, as 20 people delivered impassioned speeches during the public comment section. Some said the ordinance is badly needed; others said it's frivolous, because there's already a civility code posted on the back wall of chambers.
"I think when you are mandating people to speak in a certain way it becomes very dangerous very quickly," Lober said.
Lober said the ordinance would put the county at risk for lawsuits and argued it was a slippery slope, challenging freedom of speech, pointing out there could be many differences of opinion about what is "civil."
Hours earlier on Tuesday, Commissioner Lober posted a comment to Facebook that many residents took issue with. Calling those who contest the 2016 election results "UnAmerican filth." In the past, Lober has made edgy comments about anti-Trump protesters, and battled with the head of the county Democratic party. However, all of those remarks happened away from commission chambers and four commissioners agreed that's protected free speech.
Tobia said decorum was needed and added that he tried his best after seeing so many upset citizens, but the support simply wasn't there.
"It's fair to attack the issues, I don't think it's fair to attack the person, and when elected officials cross that line I think we're all losers," Tobia said.
The frustrated citizens could try to file a complaint with the ethics board or could try to get a recall election, but the county commission says they're closing the book on this.