Reporter Tony Judnich of the Northwest Florida Daily News writes on Aug 28, “FWB gives initial ok to Fire Fee.” Further into the article a speaker was correctly quoted as complaining “that the City firefighters took up much of the space in the Council Chambers”.

Here is what I saw when I walked into Council Chambers. Wall to wall uniformed police and firefighters. I felt unsafe, at that moment, in the safest place in FWB. Not unsafe for me personally but for my City. Had my City become a Banana Republic were public meetings were overseen by those responsible for our safety and security? I was at this meeting, as others were, to hear and speak on how my tax dollars were to be used. Those most directly affected by those tax dollars were uniformed, badged and weaponized, not a very receptive and understanding assemblage to hear negative comments from us tax payers.

I also strongly support the Police and Fire employees in their quest to be seen and heard, but not while uniformed, badged and weaponized! Neither should they have seating priority over the tax paying City Citizens.

After that sleepless night, I decided to verbally address those whom I felt responsible for allowing this irresponsible act to have happened, the Mayor and the City Manager.

Here NOW is my opinion, of what happened. The Mayor and the City Manager have pushed long and hard for this fire tax and in so doing lost contact with our overly taxed Citizens. That’s my opinion! However, I do not now believe they contrived to shut out the tax paying public from speaking by intimidation, they came close and any future Council members should exit their chair if intimidation is sensed.

This “initial ok to the Fire fee” is just the beginning of this City Ordinance Movement. City Council will convene again on Sept 10 and 24 for finalization before it becomes law. Be there and express yourself in your allocated 3 minute time limitation.

Jim Tucker, Fort Walton Beach