SAFETY HARBOR — If Shelley Schellenberg and David Riggle want to operate a hate-peddling, divisive and malicious Facebook page that seeks to turn Safety Harbor into an unwelcoming and unfriendly dead zone by pitting neighbor against neighbor, that is their right.
They should not, however, be allowed to push an angry agenda while serving as city commission-approved board members, who, by definition, are appointed to represent all citizens with an even hand and open mind.
Three things you never want to see: Bonnie and Clyde heading the Police Benevolent Association, the Kardashians teaching Bible study, and Schellenberg-Riggle looking out for others’ well being.
How can any citizen have faith in city government when forced to plead their case in a code violation dispute or while asking for a zoning variance when the very board members being addressed have an announced agenda — an angry “newcomers aren’t welcome here” rhetoric dispensed under the guise of Saving Safety Harbor?
It’s time to name it and shame it. The purpose of Schellenberg’s Facebook page – to insult, intimidate and harm anyone with opposing views — is an affront to Safety Harbor’s character, image and dignity. She’s a cancer eating away the fabric of a community.
She is The Queen of Mean.
If city leaders do not to stand up to Schellenberg’s hate it can only mean they condone the disgraceful behavior of Saving Safety Harbor supporters who, to express their opposition to new construction and new residents coming into town, have taken to leaving dog feces and notes of hate as welcome baskets. As if that’s not enough, others have turned to vandalism and shouting verbal insults and threats – most notably, at an 80-year-old senior citizen, who after weeks of being targeted, recently suffered a stroke.
It is painful to suspect Saving Safety Harbor considers that a victory.
The ultimate insult is that Schellenberg posts her hate speech, incites despicable behavior, then deletes the nastiness before word spreads to rational residents outside her circle of fanatics. Then she denies, denies and denies – except screen grabs don’t lie.
It’s laughable. A recent Schellenberg post stated “this page does not condone being mean to residents,” yet a past screen shot recorded the Queen of Mean cheering on vandalism as community activism.
Also, Schellenberg calls Saving Safety Harbor simply a “forum” for community debate. Except, any comment posted on Saving Safety Harbor offering even a hit of disagreement with the Queen of Mean is immediately removed.
So much for serious discussion, exchange of ideas and compromise.
And there lies the rub.
Schellenberg is the singular reason Safety Harbor elections have become distasteful and childish. Recently, I had an impromptu meeting and chat with Commissioner Andy Zodrow, the one city leader with whom I have the most disagreement. However, after only several minutes of respectful conversation, there was common ground recognized and discussed.
Common ground, however, is never mentioned during Safety Harbor election times, because, despite there being room in the middle for all sides to meet and build, Saving Safety Harbor lives to soak common ground with gasoline and hand out matches.
This is not to say Shelly Schellenberg is a poor representative of Safety Harbor, but Russian hackers emailed the Chamber their condolences.
When is enough enough? I do not care who is elected mayor. I do not care who is elected to commission. I do not care who is already serving. Nothing is going to change or improve downtown business and livability until Safety Harbor becomes a community working together instead of one divided by a bullying bomb thrower.
Downtown development? Waterfront Park construction? Food trucks? Condos? Forget it. The most pressing issue Safety Harbor faces, no matter who is leading, is uniting citizens and eliminating divisiveness as the local pastime.
Stop it, already. Bind the wounds of division, hate and intimidation. The whole concept of targeting residents, first at the Second Street South townhouse project, and now Iron Age home owners with messages of hate, insults and “you are not welcome here” is repulsive. It’s childish. It’s polarizing.
It’s as low as it can go – until you realize it is fueled by a Facebook page operated by City Government board members appointed to represent each and every citizen fairly and with respect.
~~ by Mick Elliott ~~
Mick Elliott – Safety Harbor Resident Blogger