SANTA ROSA INSIDER – Grumpy Old Men on Left Side of Commission Dais

Posted on May 9, 2024 by EDITORIAL BOARD

We don’t have to wait for another sequel in the Grump Old Men movie series because Santa Rosa County Commissioners Kerry Smith and Ray Eddington regularly perform like the cantankerous characters played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, calling people names and generally behaving badly. This angry duo hypocritcally calls out others’ behavior when they are the most egregious offenders.

During Monday’s committee meeting Smith asked Commission Chairman Sam Parker why the board’s seating arrangement on the dais was recently changed. Commission Parker told him it was because two witnesses, including one zoning board member, observed Smith kicking the chair of Vice Chairman James Calkins. Additionally, Parker said Smith’s frequent mumbling toward Calkins during meetings was an audible “distraction” as he presides over meetings.

So now the left side of the dais resembles Statler and Waldorf, the curmudgeonly duo from The Muppet Show known for heckling others from their box seats.

That certainly was the case on Monday when Smith made snide comments and Eddington ranted against Smith and Calkins before turning his anger toward South Santa Rosa News Publisher Romi White, demanding she stop using her phone to take photos during the meeting.

Fortunately, Parker and Calkins both knew the First Amendment of the United States Constitution protected White and stopped Eddington, who had asked the deputies providing security to remove her from the meeting. Calkins motioned for the deputies to stand down as Parker explained to Eddington that the Board cannot stop someone from taking photos or videotaping in a public venue.

Eddington motioned to police, asking them to remove White after she refused to stop taking photos. Photo by Romi White. 

Eddington usually doesn’t say much during meetings, but he was seemingly performing that day for members of the Pitchfork Posse, a group of naysayers who were in the audience and with whom he had met April 27. White was sitting in the front row minding her own business, when he deliberately called upon her, prodding her to come speak at the podium. His angry exhibitions certainly appeared to be a staged attack aimed to delight Preserve Navarre community agitators who were present that day and clapped after his “performance.”

Observing the commission dais indeed has become a study in contrasts…the left side has cantankerous senior commissioners engaging in mean-spirited arguments with and attacks upon fellow board members and constituents; while the “right” side of the dais has decades younger, less angry board members who sit for hours, taking criticism from constituents – even thanking them for coming to the meetings instead of shutting them down.

Commissioners are paid $87K a year to listen to citizens redress their grievances, yet Eddington actually bragged about ignoring emails!

Another thing Eddington boasts about is reporting constituents to code enforcement. Instead of majoring in minors, trying to be a defacto code enforcement officer or reporting traffic infractions on Navarre Beach to police, he needs to do some heavy lifting, focusing on more significant problems our community is facing. He’s

His language is also foul at times. He has used profanity and other distasteful language on the dais.

The older board members certainly could learn a lot from the younger members of the board. If they can’t be civil, kind and patient then maybe the voters will put them out to pasture in 2026…