After Tucson, Stacy Ritter Wants More Security -- From "Bloggers"
In the wake of the Tucson shooting, Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter said at yesterday's public meeting that she wants to beef up security and have metal detectors at the county governmental building.
All That Glitters, who watched the meeting (I didn't), reported the following on the previous post: "She wanted to have weapon detectors outside the doors of the Commission because she was afraid of what people were saying on the blogs about her. She brought up one comment in particular where she said someone posted that they wished her father were a better shot."
I'm getting the transcript of the meeting and will see exactly what was said and will update. I'm also trying to locate that comment (don't know if it was posted here or not).
UPDATED: The full (and raw) transcript of Ritter's remarks comes after the jump, but here's a small excerpt.
"In eight years in the state House no one ever stopped me at a restaurant or a Publix and said, 'Don't I know you? You look familiar.' I was getting my nails done last week; the woman said you look familiar. I don't know how you know me, what's your name? Samantha Rutgers. But you are very recognizable as a local elected official. Most people cannot tell you who their member of Congress is or [identify] a picture. But they know who we are by we look familiar to them. I know you from somewhere and it just would give me -- I can't put it into words."
Look, I'm not against metal detectors at County Hall, especially if it negates the need to check everybody's driver's license and tediously write down their DL number. But that is a very bizarre reaction from Ritter to a constituent who happens to recognize her. Ritter, after all, is putting videos of herself on YouTube every week and holding publicly announced "Coffee With Stacy" meetings at bagel shops where I'm pretty sure there are no metal detectors.
But Ritter also stepped way over the line when talking about "bloggers." From the transcript:
"There might come a time when somebody is pissed off enough to do what the bloggers want them to do to me, which is to shoot me, and by extension, all of us," she said.
What? Because of an anonymous comment made after her own father menaced her with a gun, she extrapolates that "bloggers" want to shoot her and the entire commission?
Totally ridiculous, though no one condones such a comment even if made in jest. You might remember that Ritter chose to tell the harrowing story of her father's assault here on this blog -- in part, she told me at the time, because she felt that the Pulp coverage had been responsible.
Inside, you can read her full comments.
The transcript is raw:
RITTER: I WANT TO REMIND EVERYBODY THAT I AM SACRIFICING MY TUESDAY EVENING AT THE CANVASSING BOARD TONIGHT. I KNOW THAT I WAS GIVEN MANY KUDOS LAST WEEK WHEN I AGREED TO DO IT, BUT I WANTED TO REMIND EVERYBODY THAT I AM DOING IT. AND FINALLY ON A LESS HAPPY --WELL, ON A SERIOUS NOTE, AS A COUNTY COMMISSIONER NOW FOR FOUR YEARS, A LITTLE OVER FOUR YEARS, I HAVE FOUND STRIKING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SERVICE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL AND THE
SERVICE AT -- PUBLIC SERVICE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL AND PUBLIC SERVICE AT THE STATE LEVEL AND I HAVE OFTEN SHARED THOSE WITH THOSE OF YOU ON THE DAIS AND ON OUT THERE AS TO THE DIFFERENCES, BUT THIS SATURDAY'S EVENTS IN ARIZONA LED ME TO ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE STRIKING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PUBLIC SERVICE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL AND AT THE STATE AND EVEN THE FEDERAL LEVEL WHERE I'VE NEVER SERVED. WE ARE FAR MORE ACCESSIBLE AS LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTED OFFICIALS THAN STATE LEGISLATORS OR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. UNLIKE TALLAHASSEE, WHERE NO MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC CAN GET ON TO THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE OR WASHINGTON WHERE NO MEMBER OF THE FLOOR CAN GET ON THE FLOOR WITH CONGRESS OR UNITED STATES SENATE, ANYONE CAN WALK INTO THE GOVERNMENT CENTER ON ANY GIVEN DAY, ESPECIALLY TUESDAY, AND FIND US HERE WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH ANY KIND OF SECURITY OTHER THAN SHOWING A DRIVER'S LICENSE AT THE FRONT DOORS, AND AS THE -- ONE OF THE OTHER STRIKING DIFFERENCES IS THAT PEOPLE SEEM TO GET MORE EMOTIONAL AT THE LOCAL LEVEL THAN THEY DO AT THE STATE LEVEL. THE ISSUES ARE DIFFERENT, AND THEY IMPACT PEOPLE MORE ON A DAILY BASIS, AND WE HAVE SEEN MANY ANGRY PEOPLE PASS THROUGH THESE DOORS, WHETHER IT'S THE BUDGET OR TRANSIT, YOU NAME IT. WE HAVE SEEN MANY ANGRY PEOPLE PASS THROUGH THESE DOORS, AND I KNOW THAT I PERSONALLY HAVE BEEN THE SUBJECT OF MUCH ATTACK IN THE BLOGS, SOME OF WHICH HAVE SUGGESTED DURING THE PAST YEAR THAT IT WAS TOO BAD MY FATHER DIDN'T HAVE BULLETS IN THE GUN AND SHOOT ME. NONE OF THESE PEOPLE OF COURSE PUT THEIR NAMES ON THIS STUFF WHICH EITHER MAKES THEM MORE DANGEROUS OR LESS DANGEROUS, I DON'T KNOW WHICH ONE IT IS. AND I RECALL ONE TIME DURING THE PAST YEAR OR SO THAT WE HAD A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC COME WHO OFTEN COMES TO THE COUNTY COMMISSION AND SHE WAS SPEAKING TO US AS SHE DOES OFTEN, AND SHE REACHED INTO A BIG PURSE THAT SHE WAS CARRYING AND SOME OF US ACTUALLY FLINCHED. SHE DIDN'T PULL OUT A GUN. SHE PULLED OUT A BUNCH OF PILL BOTTLES. SHE PUT THEM ON THE DAIS AND TOLD US THAT WE HAD REDUCED HER TO TAKING DRUGS, BUT I RECALL A CONVERSATION IN THE BACK AFTER THAT WHERE A COUPLE OF US THOUGHT THAT SHE MIGHT HAVE BEEN LOOKING, PUTTING HER HAND IN HER PURSE TO DRAW OUT A WEAPON, AND IT ACTUALLY PASSED THROUGH OUR MIND, AND WE HAVE SECURITY HERE, AND THIS IS CERTAINLY NO KNOCK ON THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO GUARD US HERE, ESPECIALLY THE CUTIE ... IN THE BLACK T-SHIRT. ... BUT SOMEBODY COULD THEORETICALLY GET OFF A FEW SHOTS BEFORE TACKLED, AND I DON'T -- AND I DON'T MEAN TO BLOW THIS UP AND MAKE THIS KNEE-JERK, BUT I'VE THOUGHT ABOUT IT A LOT DURING MY SERVICE AS A COUNTY COMMISSIONER, AND I WAS WONDERING IF WE COULD LOOK AT INSTALLING METAL DETECTORS AT THE ENTRANCES. YOU KNOW, I GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN KEEPING IT OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE AND KEEPING US ALSO SAFE AND SECURE. WE'VE NEVER HAD AN ISSUE, BUT NEITHER DID BAY COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD UNTIL THE GUY WALKED IN WITH A GUN LAST MONTH. CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS LAST YEAR OR THE YEAR BEFORE THERE WAS A SHOOTING AT THE CITY COUNCIL IN THE AMERICAN HEART LAND IN THE MIDWEST SOMEWHERE AND OF COURSE WHAT HAPPENED SATURDAY. WE ARE ALWAYS OUT THERE. OUR SCHEDULES ARE PUBLIC ACCESS AND WHILE YOU CAN'T HAVE PROTECTION EVERYWHERE YOU GO AND [THAT] WOULD BE STRANGE AND FOR ME UNCOMFORTABLE AND I'M SURE THE REST. I WAS WONDERING IF THERE WAS A WAY WE COULD LOOK TO BEEF UP SOME OF THE SECURITY HERE AT THE GOVERNMENT CENTER.
Commissioners Lois Wexler and John Rodstrom agreed with Ritter, with Wexler pointing out that the Broward County School Board is also going to install metal detectors at the K.C. Wright building. Wexler, a former School Board member, said she spent "many years" during which "the first thing I thought about was where I was going to duck if there were weapons drawn." Only Kristin Jacobs voiced disagreement with the idea, saying detectors are costly and wouldn't make commissioners more secure. She pointed out, incisively, that Rep. Giffords was shot in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson.
Ritter then finished her comments:
Ritter: EVEN BEFORE THIS INCIDENT, THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES WHEN I HAVE BEEN AFRAID, WHEN -- AND I DO WHAT YOU DO, I SCAN THE CROWD ALL THE TIME, AND YOU CAN'T -- I DON'T KNOW HOW THE SECRET SERVICE DO IT BECAUSE THIS ISN'T THAT BIG A CROWD EVEN WHEN WE HAVE AN OVERFLOW, BUT, AGAIN, IF YOU WANT TO GET IN THE HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH A METAL DETECTOR. IT WASN'T LIKE THAT WHEN I FIRST GOT TO TALLAHASSEE, BUT IT WAS LIKE THAT TOWARD THE END OF MY SERVICE, AND IT WAS -- FOR ME, IT WAS NICE TO KNOW THAT IF YOU WERE THERE ON BUSINESS, THEN HAD TO GO THROUGH A METAL DETECTOR. IF YOU WERE THERE TO DO SOMETHING CRAZY OR BAD, YOU COULDN'T GET THROUGH IF YOU HAD SOMETHING IN YOUR PURSE OR YOUR BRIEFCASE OR YOUR POCKET. I DON'T -- I STRUGGLE WITH THIS AS WELL. I'M NOT GOING TO STOP DOING WHAT I DO, AND I'M NOT GOING TO BE STOPPING BEING AS OUTSPOKEN AS I AM ON THE ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT, BUT I CAN ONLY TELL YOU THAT THE VERY ANGRY PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN IN HERE HAVE OFTEN GIVEN ME PAUSE, AND IT SEEMS TO JUST BE GETTING ANGRIER, NOT LESS SO. SO NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, SOMEBODY IS PISSED OFF, AND, YOU KNOW, THERE JUST MIGHT COME A TIME WHEN THAT SOMEBODY IS PISSED OFF ENOUGH TO DO WHAT THE BLOGGERS WANT THEM TO DO TO ME, WHICH IS SHOOT ME, AND BY EXTENSION, ALL OF US, AND I THINK THAT IF WE CAN JUST -- I DON'T KNOW, I LOVE THIS JOB, AND I'M NOT GOING TO LET PEOPLE PUSH ME OUT OF IT BECAUSE THEY DON'T LIKE ME, BUT I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO -- IT JUST -- IT JUST SEEMS LIKE IT'S SOMETHING THAT JUST WOULD GIVE US A LITTLE BIT MORE COMFORT LEVEL, JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE COMFORT. IS IT GOING TO STOP IT? I DON'T KNOW, BUT I DON'T THINK IT -- I DON'T THINK IT DOES ANY HARM. IN FACT, I THINK IT MIGHT VERY WELL, DO A GREAT DEAL OF GOOD. CAN THEY FIND US AT A SUPERMARKET? YOU BETCHA.
Jacobs: AND THEY DO.
Ritter. AND THEY DO, WHICH IS ANOTHER THING THAT GIVES ME PAUSE BECAUSE IN EIGHT YEARS IN THE STATE HOUSE NO ONE EVER STOPPED ME AT A RESTAURANT OR A PUBLIX AND SAID: DON'T I KNOW YOU. YOU LOOK FAMILIAR. I WAS GETTING MY NAILS DONE LAST WEEK. THE WOMAN SAID: YOU LOOK FAMILIAR. I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU KNOW HE. WHAT'S YOUR NAME? SAMANTHA RUTGERS. BUT YOU ARE VERY RECOGNIZABLE AS A LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL. MOST PEOPLE CANNOT TELL YOU WHO THEIR MEMBER OF CONGRESS IS OR A PICTURE, BUT THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE BY WE LOOK FAMILIAR TO THEN. I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE, AND IT JUST WOULD GIVE ME -- I CAN'T PUT IT INTO WORDS. IT'S JANUARY UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATION. WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT WE'D HAVE TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY OF ELECTED OFFICIALS? OH, THERE HAVE BEEN
ASSASSINATIONS THROUGHOUT HISTORY. THEY HAVE BEEN FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. WE EXPECT IT NEVER TO HAPPEN IN THIS COUNTRY, BUT IT DOES. IT HAPPENS. I'M SORRY.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.
- Hollywood Looks to Build Affordable Housing for Artists
Thu., Feb. 11, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 6:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 7:30pm
Sat., Feb. 13, 6:00pm
- Divers Protest Beach Renourishment Project in Broward
- UniverSoul Circus Still Uses Elephants, Draws Protesters in Miramar