County Commissioners Toss Out the First Amendment, Reject Pledge

On August 19 Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Penny Rich ordered the extension of the state of emergency through October 31—just three days before the national election. This coincides with the County Board of Elections and special interest groups aggressively soliciting citizens to vote by mail with absentee ballots. Additionally, this order prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 10 citizens and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 citizens even for campaign rallies. Does anyone sense an effort at voter suppression? Is the First Amendment now a thing of the past in Orange County?

With the extension of the emergency declaration, the September 1 Commissioners business meeting (citizen comments allowed) was changed from in-person to virtual. The agenda came out only four days before the meeting so there was little time for the public to prepare for any of the agenda items. The Pledge of Allegiance Petition was on the agenda—scheduled for the very end of a very lengthy program. It was started at 10:45 p.m. and lasted about 30 minutes. Commissioner McKee offered a proposal that the Board say the Pledge at only four meetings a year but even that was too much for Marcoplos, Dorosin and Rich who were adamantly opposed. Bedford and Price were almost neutral but ended up opposed. Greene was a strong supporter of the Pledge recital. In the end, the Pledge went down in flames: five against and two for. A sampling of Commissioner comments included: it is a compulsory loyalty oath (Dorosin), it violates separation of church and state and is a divisive power play (Marcoplos), liberty and justice for all did not work and does not work (Rich), it makes some people uncomfortable (Price), I will say it but I will take a knee (Bedford). For those who want insight to the thinking of our Commissioners, I recommend that you view the video of the meeting—the Pledge discussion starts at the 3:32:44 mark and goes to the 4:02:00 mark. It will be very disturbing to watch and hear.

Please keep a close watch on the BOCC Agendas on the county website to know what they are doing and make sure you make your voice heard. Remember, Orange County has the highest property and sales tax rates in the state and the Commissioners are intent on raising the property tax rate to accommodate their excessive spending and borrowing!!

- Riley Ruske
  Orange County Citizen


Video Link of Orange County Board of Commissioners Virtual Business Meeting on Sep 1, 2020
(fast forward to 3:32:44 mark for pledge discussion):