Stew Lilker’s

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CRC 2020: 20 Year Old Republican Party Chairman, Hunter Peeler, Has Trouble With First Amendment

photos of Republican leader, Hunter Peeler
                                                                       Columbia County Observer Graphic & Photos

CRC (Charter Review Commission) news linksCOLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – As the Columbia County Charter Review Commission (CRC) rolls off the tracks, Hunter Peeler, Columbia County's 20 year old head of the Republican Party and a CRC member, takes issue with the 1st Amendment: seems like the young Peeler doesn't like criticism.


In the summer of 2019, Columbia County Commissioner Rocky Ford chose three people to serve on the Columbia County Charter Review Commission: Bradley Dicks, John O'Neal, Wally Germany, and republican operative Hunter Peeler as an alternate.

Two of Commissioner Ford's picks, Bradley Dicks and Wally Germany, have had spotty records attending CRC meetings. In the case of Mr. Dicks, he missed three consecutive meetings and lost his seat.

Hunter Peeler, the 20 year old head of the Columbia County Republican Party, recently replaced Mr. Dicks on the Commission.

Hunter Peeler: "I am no boy. I am a man."

Glenel Bowden, CRC member
Glenel Bowden's Facebook remarks set Mr. Peeler off.

On January 30, almost a month ago, while Mr. Peeler was an alternate, he was upset by something he read on Facebook. The post was by Glenel Bowden. Mr. Peeler didn't like it and went to the microphone to complain.

It is not clear what Facebook has to do with the Charter Review Commission.

Mr. Peeler addressed the CRC: "Good evening. My name is Hunter Peeler. I am the alternate for District II. You know, I'm just gonna' go in and address one little issue. I have my own opinion. Neither the Sheriff, nor my grandfather tells me what to think. I am no boy. I am a man that has his own opinion... I am appalled that I have been called a racist, a bigot, a liar and a boy over my stance at at-large voting. It's a shame. It is a shame that someone cannot have a different opinion than someone else."

Mr. Peeler concluded with a warning, "And watch what you say about me from now on."

Chairman Lane thanked the speaker for his remarks.

Critical Remarks

This reporter has closely watched the charter review process since the 2005-06 Charter Review and studied the 2002 Charter Commission, which produced the Charter.

In the past, the charter process was facilitated by outside consultants, attorneys, and the records were kept by the Clerk's Office, which also recorded the minutes.

All previous charter review commissions have followed the law and reviewed the charter. It is what the County Charter says they are supposed to do. No substantive work was done by committees that kept the public out of the loop by meeting at times which were impossible for working family members to attend. There were no attempts to do top-down reviews of the County government, which is not authorized in the Columbia County Charter. See: CRC, Feb. 13,  Part II: Overstepping Its Bounds, Working Without Legal Authority

The Columbia County Observer has reported on these issues.

At the January 30, 2020 meeting, John "Chum" O'Neal complained about the critical comments of your reporter regarding the performance of the 2020 CRC being the worst charter review since 2006. This is a thought shared by many.

During the February 25, 2020 CRC meeting, the young Peeler decided to double down on Mr. O'Neal's previous complaints about criticism and admonish your reporter.

Mr. Peeler asked Chairman Lane for permission to speak, and then addressed your reporter directly.

Mr. Peeler said, "Let's kind-of refrain from negative remarks all the time...  We're all working as hard as we possibly can. Meeting notices are out. Our County Attorney lets people know 7 days before -- I mean at least before -- I mean we got a meeting notice last week so that was seven days before this as well. Yes. It's all public record. So let's kinda refrain from the negative remarks to the hard working board and kinda just stop complaining about it.

Your reporter told the young Peeler, "I would suggest that if you don't like my remarks, you don't listen Mr. Peeler."

Chairman Lane interceded, "Enough - I support it. He has freedom of speech and I support it."

"Our County Attorney" didn't give 7 days' notice

Attorney Joel Foreman      (file)

Peeler got it wrong. County Attorney Foreman, who was also hired separately to be the consultant/counsel for the CRC, sent out notice of the February 25 meeting at 2:56 pm on Friday, February 21.

This is 3 days before the meeting; not the 7 days Mr. Peeler claims. And considering the information came late Friday afternoon, with the weekend in-between, the effective time the CRC members had to review the material was a realistic one business day.


While the CRC has clearly run amok, Chairman Lane's defense of the 1st Amendment is notable.

The young Mr. Peeler needs to take a step back, think before he talks, and realize that the 1st Amendment is not only applicable to him.

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