ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL -- Cameras caught intense moments involving a county commissioner and a resident verbally duking it out at a County Commission meeting last week.
This week, the men involved spoke with First Coast News about the spat.
On October 2nd, St. Johns County resident Carl "Bud" Markel was among many people who voiced their opinions about a proposed charter government.
He told St. Johns County Commissioners that people had not been allowed to speak against charter government at other public meetings.
Markel's comments set off Commission Chair Ben Rich.
"This is a patent lie, and Mr. Markel, you should be ashamed of yourself," Rich said during the meeting. "You're a liar, sir."
Rich added, "I'm glad you're up out of your seat because we can meet behind closed doors. Just bring your own soap bar."
A week later, Rich stands by what he said.
Rich told First Coast News, "Any time anyone comes before the County Commission, they're not dealing with individuals, they're dealing with representatives of the people. Any time anyone bears false witness to those representatives of the people, they need to be prepared to be confronted regarding their remarks."
During the argument, Markel responded to Rich saying, "Mr. Chairman, I have never, never in all the years I served St. Johns County and the people of St. Johns County -- ever been called a liar."
In the meeting, Rich told Markel, "I'm not going to argue with you. I have no respect for you."
Markel stood there, with his mouth open. "You better take that back!"
Rich replied, "Well, you can see me after class."
Wednesday, Markel told First Coast News, "I was dumbfounded."
Markel is a former St. Johns County Clerk of Court. He was elected four times.
He said, "I'm used to politicians or elected officials disagreeing about subjects. That's common, but I've never heard public officials say what he said."
Markel told First Coast News, "I really thought if he was any kind of a man or elected official, he'd apologize."
And what did Rich mean with the soap comment?
Rich told First Coast News, "As adults, we wash our children's mouths out with soap. Of course, in the military, we say something about `don't drop it.' In the police department, they say 'he slipped on it.' I've been a policeman, I've been in the Navy, and I've also been a parent. I know what I was thinking about when I said it. I believe one of those applies anyway."
A county official finally ended the argument that turned a democratic process into a shouting match for three minutes.
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