Hard Candy: Cherry-Crusted Nutbars

You know, you’ve got to hand it to Gulfport’s mayor, Mike Yakes. The city has some true cherry-crusted nut bars, and this guy doesn’t even blink. If you’ve watched Gulfport council meetings, you know who I mean. For those of you outside Gulfport, if you’ve watched any council meetings anywhere in the world, you have your own nut bars.
No matter what these people say, Mayor Mike keeps a straight face. No matter how ridiculous their request, he nods thoughtfully. He addresses most of their concerns.
It’s really a shame that the people addressing council cannot offer the same level of respect. Somewhere along the way, people have started to believe that it is ethically acceptable to treat elected and appointed officials like idiots, criminals, or both. People are rude, accusatory, and condescending, and exhibit behavior often found when a three year-old has a tantrum.
Here’s a sample of what you might see and hear at council.
Tuesdy night one lady who may or may not need medicine that she may or may not be taking accused the city of ethics violations, interrupting the city’s clerk’s response to her question, and standing up in the middle of the attorney’s response to insinuate the attorney didn’t understand the Sunshine Law. In the past this woman repeatedly accused an acting city clerk of hiding records, the interim attorney of ongoing unethical behavior, and the council in general of behaving unethically. She does not understand the Sunshine Law, yet she insists on spouting out her twisted version of the law as if it were fact.
One man continues to accost council about the city’s decision to allow a smoker restaurant on 49th Street. He continues to obsessively accuse council of polluting the air and poisoning him, despite a marked lack of evidence. He wrote a letter to The Gabber referencing the smoke going up to the heavens and raining down on the pirates. Trust me, I’m nowhere near “well-adjusted” myself, but from what I’ve seen, yelling at council and accusing them of poisoning people isn’t how well-adjusted people handle their grievances.
Others accuse the elected councilmembers of conspiring to make secret deals or violate Sunshine laws. Mike just sits there, stoic, and looks at them like these people aren’t in competition for the cover of the Fruit Loops box.
Attention, nut bars: listen up, and listen good. I’ll say it slowly so you don’t miss anything.
Gulfport is great, and I know you love it. I do, too, but I do realize something you seem to be missing: Gulfport ain’t Chicago. Nothing here is worth the level of conspiracy you suggest. The mayor is not making any secret deals, no one is trying to poison anyone, and no, even though I think sometimes she does get a little fiscally-obsessive about the city’s finances, Michele King isn’t trying to sell Veteran’s Park to a mall developer. You people want to make this city into a John Grisham novel, and it just isn’t that kind of place. The entire council could conspire to sell every city block to developers and Clam Bayou to Waste Management and it wouldn’t net enough money to matter.
Oh, I’m not saying things that are inappropriate don’t happen, because I believe that they do, and whether you believe us or not, we do look for those things. We just need to be somewhat responsible about what we print, so that rules out just about everything I’ve mentioned above as a viable news item.
I’ve gotten to know four of the five councilmembers pretty well, and while I frequently disagree with them, I can say to you that each really does want to do what they believe is best for Gulfport. Sometimes they’re misguided and sometimes they’re so passionate that it can get tiresome, but they really do want to see good things in your city.
While we’re on the topic, please remember that just because you stand up at council and say something over and over again doesn’t make it true, and it certainly doesn’t mean council has to act on it. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow, but give it a shot. Sometimes what you’re saying is just so completely out there that the most prudent thing for council to do is ignore you. Some of you seem to be operating within the confines of your own reality and, well, to be frank, we’re just not ready to board the train to Crazy Town, Population: You.
Also, let’s take a hard look at city council, but instead of looking for the secret deals and malfeasance, let’s look at some of the good they do and have done since before they ran for office. Mike’s raised something like 27 children that weren’t biologically his and Judy’s volunteered just about everywhere someone can volunteer in the two and half square miles that is Gulfport. Bob would have heart palpitations if he couldn’t give time to CERT and before that the volunteer fire department, and Michele will take up just about any benevolent cause and work towards it just because she thinks it’s the right thing to do. Sam? Well, Sam’s new and he hasn’t really been as receptive to The Gabber as the rest of council, but I’m sure he must do something of value as well.
Finally, try treating council and staff with a lot more respect. They’ve got a hard enough job without you treating them like pedophiles. “Public session” isn’t a license to treat people like dirt, and despite how some of you treat your council, they are people. Your behavior embarrasses me on behalf of carbon-based life forms everywhere.
So lay off, would you? These are people like you and I—well, maybe a little more sane than a handful of you—just doing the best they can.

Published by


I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.