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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Sarasota County school board is sick and tired of hearing citizens complain, so it banned criticism of individual board members during meetings.

  • At a meeting last week, Vice Chairwoman Jane Goodwin — standing in for Chairwoman Shirley Brown, who lost control of the meeting — directed police to remove citizens who criticized specific elected officials during the public comment period, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.
  • "This is not McCurdy's Comedy Club," Goodwin told the Herald-Tribune. "This is a professional board meeting ... It has to be tightened up in terms of what people are allowed to say."

Yes, but: Even though board members explained that the open-ended verbal assaults were taking up time that could be spent on more productive debate, the move further riled some.

  • The board has "single-handedly activated and motivated every single mom, dad and voter in this county," said one man.

The big picture: School board meetings have become the new political arena nationwide, sometimes turning violent over hot-button culture war topics.

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Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - News

Thousands turn out for Venice mask exemption event

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Several thousand parents of schoolchildren showed up at a rural wedding venue in Venice on Sunday to ask sympathetic doctors to medically clear their children from wearing masks in public schools, per the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

  • The event included a barbecue and a visit from Michael Flynn, former President Trump's first national security adviser.
Sep 15, 2021 - News

Arkansas set to redraw voting maps this month

Expand chart
Map: Axios Visuals

There's not much that's less sexy than redrawing congressional maps following the census, the process commonly called redistricting.

  • But it's a necessary and important part of our democratic process.

What's happening: State lawmakers will reconvene Sept. 29, which is an extension of their regular session. The plan is to redraw boundaries for Arkansas' four congressional districts.

19 mins ago - World

Blinken, Austin call out China at event on Australia security pact

Blinken and Austin. Photo: Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned China's "aggressive" and "destabilizing" behavior at a press conference Thursday, as they inaugurated a major new trilateral security partnership with Australia and the U.K.

Why it matters: China was not explicitly mentioned in President Biden's announcement of the AUKUS alliance, through which the U.S. and the U.K. will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of a broader effort to ensure "peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific."