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Busy with legal stuff: I'm suing me

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Column by Jim Clark

Last week was very busy for me. I spent a lot of time doing the paperwork involved in filing for an injunction … against myself.
That’s right, I’m suing me.
It’s all because some of our government officials seem to forget the first three words of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution; you know, the words “We the people.”
This kind of thing happens when officials ignore the fact that we, the people, are the government … not them. This is a government, as Abe Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “of the people, by the people, for the people” and “shall not perish from the earth.”
Unfortunately, last week it perished in Ocala.
The trigger for this is a schools vs. city dispute over utility deposits. The city wants them from the schools; the schools say they don’t have to pay.
Last week it was revealed that the city threatened to disconnect city utilities, which includes water and electric, from 23 schools and various school offices that use city facilities. That prompted the board to file for an injunction against the city.
No, no, no, says the city. We won’t shut down any schools, just the offices. First, that’s not very comforting, since the offices control the schools, in some cases providing access to computers, and second, why did they list the schools in the threatening letter?
Those of us who happen to live in the city of Ocala pay school taxes to Marion County and pay city taxes to Ocala. So, in effect, we are suing ourselves for demanding a deposit from ourselves.
What a colossal waste of time, effort and money this entire dispute has caused.
Personally, my school side is winning over my city side. One of the reasons for a utility deposit is to make sure the person posting the deposit is good for the bill. In fact, in one of my utilities, I believe it’s the phone, I don’t have to pay a deposit, because over the years I’ve always paid my bills on time.
Just where does the city think the School Board is going to go? Is it going to shut down and disappear in the middle of the night, running out on its debts? So why should the city require a deposit from the schools?
There was a court hearing on Monday, and a judge ordered the city not to cut off the utilities. But it’s more complicated than that, and the issue is definitely not settled. And, just the fact that it was brought up at all is very disconcerting.
At its next meeting, the City Council should ask for a show of hands from its audience: “How many of you also pay School Board taxes?”
It should be unanimous, unless there are some out-of-county residents there. That show of hands should send a message to the city: Stop demanding that I pay myself a deposit.
After all, I might win in court … or I might lose … or both.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.