To: Residents and Business Owners in St. Johns County
Subject: County Commissioner Ben Rich
Many of us are busy with our families and careers and do not have the time to watch County Commission meetings or follow what our County Commissioners are doing while some of us have been watching Commission meetings and workshops for some time.
We have watched Commissioner Ben Rich make bizarre and irresponsible comments. Commissioners Rich and Commissioner Manuel regularly talk down to people and carry themselves with an arrogance the likes of which we have never seen. We have watched both these Commissioners bully county employees and citizens.
In the past, we laughed and didn't pay too much attention to them. After watching their conduct at a budget workshop hearing on February 21, 2007 we can longer remain silent.
At that meeting, Commissioner Rich and Manuel attacked the dedicated men and women that serve in our local public safety departments. Since neither of them has lived here more than a few years, they may not understand that we consider ourselves fortunate to have such qualified and responsive fire, rescue and law enforcement personnel to help us in times of emergency.
Commissioner Rich was especially vicious during the budget workshop regarding our wonderful firefighters and emergency medical personnel. Rich was mad because he saw five fire trucks at a house fire even though he saw no smoke. From this, Rich concluded that we have too many firefighters and paramedics and Commissioner Manuel agreed.
Of course what Rich does not know is that the firefighters had already extinguished a fire in the home that destroyed a kitchen and caused several thousand dollars in damage before his arrival. Rich said as far as he is concerned, firefighting teams are a "nice luxury" but a single fire fighter should risk his own life and enter a blazing house alone to extinguish a fire.
Unbelievably, Rich went on to say that he was angered by the police officer first responding to the Columbine school tragedy in Colorado. He actually remarked in the televised meeting that watching the police officer who was outside the school awaiting the SWAT team made him "want to go down there and shoot the cop and go in".
Mr. Rich, you should resign as an elected official, you do not deserve to serve. All of us know that in reality Rich is mad because the firefighters union supported candidates in the last election that Mr. Rich did not support. Rich has been trying to take his revenge against the firefighters publicly for months. Mr. Rich, we will not allow you to play politics with our local safety any longer.
Incidentally, Mr. Rich is also proposing the elimination of the meager funding the county provides the Council on Aging, EPIC Community Services and the Betty Griffin House.
A website at http://www.localsafety.org is available for citizens who want to know more about Mr. Rich's outrageous comments. There you will learn of his dangerous proposals to cut emergency services to our community all the while rewarding his political cronies with high paying jobs in county administration.
After viewing Mr. Rich's comments, we urge all citizens to attend the upcoming County Commission meeting on Tuesday March 6, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. Please attend and show your support for public safety. Demand that Mr. Rich resign.