Politics

Local Florida officials pass a resolution to mock a newspaper columnist’s identity and work

“Whereas because of her eloquent prose the circulation of Florida Today dropped only 16 percent during her tenure,” Commissioner John Tobia said at Tuesday’s commission meeting. “Whereas her dedication to Brevard is exemplified by her accepting a position with the Miami Herald a mere three years after coming here,” he continued. “And whereas her liberal views will be sorely missed by the Brevard Democrats alike …”

Another commissioner, Bryan Lober, also chimed in proposing the following amendment:  “Whereas throughout her employment with Florida Today, Ms. Rangel never once let the fact that she’s forbidden from voting in this county deter her from commenting on … politics and criticizing numerous elected officials.” After making the suggestion, he confirmed with his colleagues whether they were okay with the language used, which they were.

The “Resolution honoring Florida Today Reporter Isadora Rangel” passed 5-0. News of it spread when someone emailed Rangel a video recording of the meeting. In response to the recording, Rangel told the Post that it wasn’t her job to befriend local officials but to hold them accountable. “With opinion journalists, that’s what you’re supposed to do. And you’re also supposed to congratulate people when they do the right thing.”

Yet, in a petty move to shame Rangel for telling the truth and holding local officials accountable, the board of county commissioners decided to bring up Rangel’s immigrant background of being from Brazil, a classic move Republicans often take to target influential individuals not born in the U.S. Rangel shared she was not surprised the commissioners targeted her identity and noted that the resolution was a way of “telling people to go back where you came from and you can’t say anything about America because you were born in a different country. It says more about them than it says about me.”

During the meeting where the resolution was formulated, Lober even attempted to include language making connections to Brazil’s murder rate. While the amendment was rejected by his colleagues, they still laughed. But that wasn’t all—according to the Post, he brought up Brazil’s crime rate and GDP to argue that the U.S. was better than Rangel’s “home country.”

To make matters worse, before moving on to other topics during the meeting, Tobia and Lober both even offered to pay for framed copies of the resolution.

Of course, when asked about the resolution, Lober had no regrets and defended it. “If she can dish it, she should be able to take it,” he told the Post. Her “job should have been to report the news, not to contort it to fit a recurring, prejudiced agenda.”

While Tobia didn’t comment on Lober’s references to Brazil’s crime and the murder rate, he defended the resolution, claiming it was strictly political and not about “where she was born, her gender, none of that stuff.

“The resolution pretty much speaks for itself,” he said. “We wish her well, but we certainly took a couple of jabs, as she often did in the newspaper.”

While it has been Rangel’s job to hold these officials accountable and to rightfully criticize their actions, it’s ridiculous to see commissioners take time to attempt to do the same in revenge by attacking her identity. “They feel entitled to use that time devoted to county issues for personal issues,” Rangel told the Post. “Is that really what government is about? Is it the job of an elected official to use his official position to go on personal tirades and issue attacks against people?”

But despite their attempts to shame and hurt her, Rangel took the attack as a compliment because it reflected that her work impacted the commissioners.

“You’re trying to insult me, but I actually took it as a compliment in many ways, and I think any columnist would,” she said. She added that she may even frame the resolution.




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