This letter was submitted to all local papers for publication. Since Bill Imfeld assumed the role of Walton County BCC chair, he has undertaken an escalating assault on the First Amendment rights of the citizens. At public meetings, public comment has been routinely and arbitrarily limited to only what Mr. Imfeld deigns to allow, his practice being to abruptly cut off and rudely interrupt and gavel down citizens attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights when he disagrees with the content of their speech. I had never seen the court bailiff appear in any meetings prior to Mr. Imfeld’s reign. I now expect to see the bailiff come running and implicitly threatening citizens as has happened too much recently. And this is not to be critical of the bailiff; he is simply doing his job as his boss, Mr. Imfeld, commands. It is past time that Mr. Imfeld’s bosses—you and I—command him to respect our rights. At the latest BCC in DFS Tuesday, Mr. Imfeld not only refused to allow one citizen to speak to an important issue, he also gaveled down and effectively shouted down Commissioner Meadows when she tried to speak to an issue she had asked be placed on the agenda. Mr. Imfeld not only was incredibly arrogant and rudely overbearing toward her, he also abruptly recessed the meeting. For those who wish to view this on the video of the meeting, available on the County website, you’re out of luck. The tape was shut off and/or censored, it appears. That episode is not there for the public to see and hear the egregious conduct of Mr. Imfeld, according to friends who have attempted to see what transpired. I was present, and I saw and heard every word, every gesture, and it was appalling. Mr. Imfeld has a practice of ordering county staff to strike those items from the agenda which he does not wish to have brought to public attention and discussed in the sunshine, or so I’m informed by county employees in positions to know what is said and done in those meetings. This was assuredly the case in the assault Tuesday on Commissioner Meadows' rights as a Commissioner and as a citizen. This censorship must stop before the book burning starts. To add further insult to injury, Rep. Matt Gaetz was attempting to address the BCC that same day and was cut off by the County Attorney who told him he could not speak about the particular issue Matt was using as an illustration in discussion of a separate matter. Mr. Davis, County Attorney, recited what has been stated many times before at prior meetings, i.e., the BCC as a matter of policy will not hear any public comment pertaining in any fashion to matters currently part of any active litigation. That statement is further testimony to the blatant disregard for the rights of citizens to peacefully and legally address their government in seeking redress of wrong done them BY THEIR GOVERNMENT! I’ll leave it to each reader to consider the implications of that policy and the actions of the Chair. Both policy and Chair are wrong, and it’s time both change. It’s little wonder that Walton County government is held in such contempt by the Legislature and a growing number of citizens of the county. It’s hard to believe this kind of conduct is not only possible in an area so full of men and women who daily risk their lives to defend our First Amendment rights, but also that it is not being actively investigated by both law enforcement and most particularly the press. The media needs to be in the forefront, exposing and demanding an end to such hateful unconstitutional practices. If the First Amendment rights of citizens, Commissioners, and State Representatives can be so cavalierly disregarded and violated by one despot, will the rights of the press be next? More particularly, if the press does not lead this fight, why should it enjoy any rights at all, let alone those special rights historically accorded. Similarly, if we as citizens do not press this fight, we don’t deserve and will lose OUR rights to an even greater extent. The First Amendment specifically prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right ito peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. Mr. Imfeld routinely ignores those prohibitions as respects the guaranteed freedoms of speech, press, peaceable assembly, and petitioning for governmental redress of grievances. Only Commissioner Meadows has not acquiesced in the BCC’s complicity in silently condoning, and thus being guilty of, this behavior. The other Commissioners need to speak up while they may. And so does the press and every citizen of this county. This cannot stand! Don Riley, M.D.