Marco citizens confront city councilor about political website
Weeks after a Marco Island city councilor was revealed as the owner of a website offering political commentary about the police department, fellow councilors and prospective political candidates, one of the targets of criticism has fired back.
Marco Island resident Ray Seward confronted Larry Honig during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s City Council meeting regarding insults directed at him on the MarcoPolitics website.
“My name is Ray Seward, better known to this Council or former Council as ‘crusty old citizen,’” Seward said. “[...] There were a number of people insulted by this article and the owner of this article was Larry Honig.
“He has insulted three of the Council members or former Council members and I’ve never heard of anything like that. Because they disagreed with what you had to say, you insulted them.”
Four weeks ago, Honig acknowledged ownership of the domain, www.marcopolitics.com, which at the time contained links to articles, city meeting videos as well as commentary.
Honig denied participation in any of the content and said that all of the material was authored or posted by a group of Marco Island citizens that approached him about using the domain.
“I do own the website, but it is managed by a group of citizens who wish to remain anonymous,” Honig said. “If you’ve (heard) what’s said about me, you can understand why the group wants to remain anonymous.”
Prior to the website being taken down temporarily for copyright concerns, the content focused most of its criticisms on Councilor Howard Reed, then-Councilors Joe Batte and Bob Brown, political candidates Jim Richards and Jerry Swiacki and the supervision of the police department in lieu of allegations of officers having sex on duty.
The content aimed at council members was based primarily on the opinion that Reed, Batte and Brown were stalling the process to hire an interim city manager after Dr. Lee Nibock was fired in March.
Criticisms were also lobbed at supporters of the candidates including Seward, who did not believe Honig’s explanation.
“It says to me that the people on this Council have lied to the citizens of this island,” Seward said.
Marco Island resident Phil Kostelnik also decried the hostile comments made against elected officials.
“If I want a government of people who are uncivil and rude, I’ll watch the jerks in Washington, D.C,” Kostelnik said. “They have a corner on the market. Marco Island deserves better.”
In response to Seward’s comments, Honig called the issue a red herring, designed to deflect attention from wrongdoing.
As he did in the past, Honig challenged one of the pieces of evidence that residents have used to convict him in the court of public opinion.
On one of the documents formerly attached to the website, the document properties showed the author to be Honig.
Honig said document properties could be easily manipulated and presented the same document with a newspaper publisher’s name listed as the author.
“The point is to say documents like this are easily alterable, and I just wanted the citizens to know that,” Honig said.
While the Marco Politics website was taken down for a little more than a week, the site popped up again on Nov. 6 with many of the commentaries removed except ones directed at Reed and the police department.