I doubt there’s a gun owner living anywhere in Southwest Florida who hasn’t heard of Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman.
Last June, when the city commission went bonkers and tried to ban “assault weapons” — before they realized the move could cost them a lot of cash and their jobs — Chapman rocketed to infamy for some comments she made at a public hearing held to discuss the commissioners’ crazy and illegal scheme.
“Up until Orlando, the mass killings were done mostly by what we call white Americans. Many of whom, kind of — the scary type — was here tonight, frankly,” Chapman said to a capacity crowd, which included gun owners and many, many veterans.
She never apologized for offending the vets. But firefighters and paramedics, on the other hand, are apparently a different story.
Chapman has been receiving a ton of flak since she took issue with ambulances driving past her home on Orange Avenue.
In an email she sent to Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin, Chapman wrote, “Orange Avenue south of Mound is a residential street that restricts trucks… I think it is time for these vehicles to be ticketed.”
Of course firefighters and paramedics — the brave folks who drive and crew our ambulances — reacted with anger. Who could blame them? These First Responders have the legal and moral right to go wherever they’re needed. Chapman’s NIMBY comments constituted an attack — albeit a silly one — since I doubt she could find a law enforcement officer anywhere in the country who’d even consider citing an ambulance.
Things bubbled over Friday morning, when our friends Maverick and Lulu — hosts of the “Maverick and Lulu in the Morning,” on WCTQ (92.1-FM) — held a radio show/rally at Morton’s Deli to protest Chapman’s remarks, and to show their strong support for our First Responders.
We had just finished shooting a Facebook Live video, when Susan Chapman walked up.
“What are you here for, commissioner?” I asked.
“I’m here to apologize,” she told me.
Maverick and Lulu quickly got her on the air.
The good commissioner said the magic words — “I formally apologize…” — but she refused to say much more. Chapman said she was merely acting on behalf of her constituents, who she said complained about the ambulance traffic on Orange Avenue.
In my humble opinion, that just doesn’t ring true. I’ve never heard anyone complain about too many ambulances near their home.
And instead of agreeing that the entire premise of her email was wrong, since emergency vehicles are exempt from local ordinances, Chapman remained steadfast and refused to admit her mistake, again claiming she was acting on behalf of her constituents.
“I listen to both sides,” she told the radio hosts.
At that, I stopped listening.
First it was veterans, now First Responders. I can only speculate at what will next draw the good commissioner’s ire.
Sea turtle hatchlings, perhaps?