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Thursday, April 25, 2024

City cancels commission meeting after non-criminal threat, city clerk retracts resignation

GPD investigated the threatening Facebook post but did not find it to be criminal



Threats of violence caused a Thursday Gainesville City Commission to be canceled.

After a heated Monday commission meeting, 42-year-old Gainesville activist Chanae Jackson made a Facebook post threatening City Commissioner Reina Saco, Gainesville Police Department spokesperson Graham Glover said. City manager Lee Feldman asked GPD to investigate the post, but the comments were not criminal threats.

There are no criminal charges pending, Glover said, so it was a city decision to cancel the meeting. He did not know what the post said and is unsure if it’s still on Facebook. Jackson said she didn’t know if it was one of her Facebook posts or live videos that was investigated.

Jackson made multiple posts after the meeting expressing her frustration toward Saco’s support of Feldman’s employment and the city’s vote to approve his severance package. In one post, Jackson wrote she would “drag” Saco and “be smiling on the mugshot.” She included the hashtag #catchmeoutside on the post.

Jackson believes Saco dismissed the experiences of many women by supporting Feldman’s employment and severance package. This includes the women who resigned from the city and the women who filed a complaint against him, she said.

She said she uses critical language, such as “drag,” to address other city commissioners in her posts, so the language she chose to use in the post was reasonable. The commissioners were trying to deflect from their poor decision making by blaming her, Jackson said.

“I would never give them the leverage to be able to trespass me from city hall,” Jackson said. “I would never give them the satisfaction to relinquish my power.”

Jackson said she plans to look into holding a recall election to replace Saco because of her actions at Monday’s meeting and because Saco raised a middle finger to firefighters protesting vaccine mandates, among other things.

Saco did not respond for comment in time for publication.

This follows a tension-filled meeting on Monday evening that lasted almost eight hours, where the commission approved City Manager Lee Feldman’s resignation severance package and decided not to terminate Gainesville Regional Utilities general manager Ed Bielarski. 

During Monday’s meeting, there was a moment of unrest between the commissioners and the public, where Saco could be heard arguing with a public commenter in the room. It is unclear what the public commenter was saying or who they were.

All agenda items scheduled for the Thursday meeting will be discussed at a future date, Gainesville spokesperson Rossana Passaniti wrote in an email.

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“The emotionally charged events of the last several days have left tensions running high and has culminated in threats of violence against our elected officials,” Passaniti wrote. “We take these threats seriously and the decision was made to cancel the meeting out of an abundance of caution.”

Also following Monday’s meeting, City Clerk Omichele Gainey retracted her resignation letter Thursday, writing in an email to the commission that she has reflected on her decision.

Gainey originally announced her resignation Sept. 8 after three other city employees resigned, including Commissioner Gail Johnson, former Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion Teneeshia Marshall, and City Attorney Nicolle Shalley. 

“The outpouring of support I have received is heartening and humbling and it is my hope that my decision to continue to serve as your City Clerk will bring much-needed stability and leadership to the organization,” she wrote.

Contact Meghan at Follow her on Twitter @meggmcglone.

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Meghan McGlone

Meghan McGlone is a UF junior majoring in journalism and English, and this year she’s the City and County Commission reporter. In past years, she’s served as the University Editor, the Student Government reporter, and other positions. Her favorite past time is eating gummy worms and reading a good book.

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