By Ralph Hipp
After being voted out of his job by Topeka's City Council last year, former City Manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr. ventured back into the job market after failed job searches in Grand Rapids and Wichita. He may have thought he found the perfect place when he became City Manager of Sanford, Florida last September.
Sanford, about 45 miles north of Orlando, was originally known as the celery capital of the world. But the nation now knows Sanford as the city where 17-year old Trayvon Martin was shot in a gated Sanford community known as the Retreat at Twin Lakes last month. I will leave it to you to keep your eyes and ears on the articles and video reports coming out of Sanford this week. The cries are deafening for Sanford Police to arrest suspected gunman and security guard George Zimmerman. Rev. Al Sharpton will lead the next major rally tomorrow night on the accusations that this was an unprovoked hate crime against the teen, who'd gone to a convenience to buy Skittles and iced tea for his little brother. Friends call George Zimmerman a mild mannered guy who liked his job patrolling the gated community, and believe his claims he fired his weapon to defend himself on the job. Police reports say his nose and back of his head were bleeding after a fight he had with Martin.
The Sanford City website says part of City Manager Norton Bonaparte's job includes enforcing city laws and supervising operations of the its police department. Summoned to Washington this week by Attorney General Eric Holder (along with Sanford's mayor) Bonaparte is returning home to louder calls for him to fire Police Chief Bill Lee, Jr.. who like Bonaparte, has been on the job for less than a year. The media reports you have no doubt heard also include searing criticism of Florida's self-defense law, which critics warned would allow criminals to break laws or kill under the guise of self defense. But the NRA rallied behind the measure, saying Floridians who carry and use weapons to protect themselves and their property, will legally be in the right.
Justice Department probes are underway, and criticism of the incident and of the weapons law being heard loud and clear from Tallahassee. Norton Bonaparte is going to be right in the middle of the controversy. It will make Topeka's scrap metal thefts look like a Boy Scout outing, and whether Bonaparte will think taking the job in Sanford, Florida was worth it. I'd appreciate your thoughts. rh