Mayor Joe Kilsheimer was primed to adjourn the January 6th City Council meeting. They voted on a revision to the Alonzo Williams Community Center, gave support to Innovative Traffic Signal technologies, and scheduled the next workshop for the City Center all in just over an hour.
But before Mayor Kilsheimer could gavel the meeting to a close, Commissioner Billie Dean spoke out.
"Don't adjourn because I have a few questions," he said.
"This concerns the Old Florida Outdoor Festival," he continued. "Are the meetings open to the public?"
"No," answered Kilsheimer.
"Why?" Dean asked.
"Because they are staff meetings," said Kilsheimer.
Kilsheimer referred Dean's questions to City Attorney Cliff Shepard.
"So the public can't just sit in if they aren't invited? Dean asked Shepard. "They can't just sit in and listen to what's going on?"
"They don't have a right to sit in," said Shepard. "If the staff were to say 'come on in' they could, but they don't have a right to be there, and that's the difference. In Sunshine (Law) issues, you have a right to be there."
"So this does not concern the entire community…the Old Florida Outdoor Festival?" Dean asked.
"That's not what I said," said Shepard.
Dean then turned his attention to City Administrator Glenn Irby.
He asked Irby about the bidding process for vendors before arriving at a much more volatile subject - diversity.
"Is the city targeting a specific audience?" Dean asked.
"Yes," said Irby. "Those that like music."
"Are you being facetious now?"
"Well if you don't like music, I don't think you'd want to show up," said Irby. "The short answer is no, whoever wants to come."
"Okay, let me reiterate," said Dean. "There is no need for me to come (to the OFOF) if it's all caucasian, and it seems to be centered around caucasians… to me.
"I have no response to that," said Irby.
"I know you don't," said Dean.
This is the second volatile City Council meeting in a row that involved Commissioner Dean and issues related to African Americans. In last month's City Council meeting (on December 16th), he stated opposition to a proposed plan to bring a light manufacturing company to a parcel of land owned by the City of Apopka which is currently zoned Parks and Recreation.
“I have a problem with this project,” said Dean. “A serious problem. It’s a known fact that anything not worth a damn is put on the south side in a community where it is totally African American.”
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Ray Shackelford raised his hand to speak to the City Council, but Kilsheimer denied his request.
"Dr. Shackelford we have had public comment," said Kilsheimer. "You waived your public comment at the time of public comment. I'm going to adjourn the meeting. We are adjourned."
Readers of The Apopka Voice can listen to the actual discussion here.
Read more about the tension between Commissioner Dean, The City of Apopka, The Old Florida Outdoor Festival and the issues raised by residents and leaders of Southern Apopka next Monday in The Apopka Voice.