One can’t say President Donald Trump doesn’t promote unity, because the Citrus Coffee Coalition wouldn’t exist without him.

The coalition’s Facebook page states a simple mission: “A group of folks fed-up with Trump’s lies, corruption, obstruction, national security risks etc, etc, etc.”

And now the coalition, started just five months ago as a political support group for like-minded people, finds itself with a local cause that its members say reflects the angst throughout the country.

“It’s an open sore and they put salt in it,” Charlotte Johnson said, “and the whole country saw that they did that.”

Coffee Club 2.jpg

Some members of the Citrus Coffee Club, clockwise from left: Charlotte Johnson, Larry Johnson, Elissa Malcohn, Christine Crabtree and Dale Pray. "We go out and wear these shirts to let people know they're not alone," Malcohn said.

• • •

“They” are Citrus County commissioners, particularly Scott Carnahan and Ron Kitchen Jr., who have placed Citrus in the national spotlight by denying a $2,700 annual online subscription for the New York Times that would provide digital access for 70,000 library card holders.

Carnahan’s remarks on Oct. 24 that the Times is “fake news” and “I don’t want the New York Times in this county,” combined with Kitchen’s criticizing the critics at the board’s  Nov. 5 meeting, has rallied this group’s small, but growing membership.

“This has become a bellwether event,” Elissa Malcohn, 61, said.

It started out five months ago as a small batch of people who would see each other at protests. Now membership tops 120  and it’s picked up by 20 percent in the past two weeks, said co-founding member, Dale Pray.

The group consists of Democrats, moderate Republicans, no-party voters, all with a common anti-Trump theme.

Some, like Pray and Christine Crabtree were longtime Republicans who started to see changes they could no longer abide by.

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Dale Pray says Trump has "gutted" the Republican Party that he grew up with.

“My father’s Republican Party has gone through severe transformation in the last 10 years,” Pray, 64, said. "It started with the Tea Party. Trump has gutted it. It’s no resemblance to the Republican Party of old.”

Crabtree, 49, said he left the party in 2007 and now is an NPA voter.

“I really noticed the change, a shift, from what I was used to,” she said. “Instead of attacking policy, they were attacking individuals.”

So they started gathering at Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in Inverness to share their concerns.

“It wasn’t to plan anything,” said Malcohn, who lives in Beverly Hills. “We just wanted to get together to comfort each other.”

• • •

The Times issue brought Pray, Malcohn and a few others to the Nov. 5 meeting. Sporting yellow T-shirts with the symbolic ballot box check mark on the front and “VOTE” on the back, coalition members spoke their piece and were critical of commissioners.

What they didn’t expect was to face the wrath of Commissioner Kitchen when some got up to leave following public comment.

“See this is what we do. We come up and yell at us and then you guys, if we say something you don’t want to hear, you get up and leave,” Kitchen said during the meeting. “Thank you for your ‘civics lesson’ today in how we participate in government. There you go!”

Coalition members thought Kitchen’s comments were out of line.

Coffee Club 4.jpg

Larry Johnson said Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. was wrong to criticize those who left the board meeting while Kitchen was speaking. "I have a right not to listen to his speech too," he said.

“I have a right not to listen to his speech, too,” Larry Johnson, 81, of Citrus Springs, said. “When I walked out, I knew it made him angry and that's the kind of person he is. I merely got up out of my chair and left. He didn’t know if I had to go the bathroom, or what.”

They acknowledged that booing a woman with an opposing view was rude  “Shame on you!” Kitchen said, chastising the audience  Malcohn said there is nothing wrong with it either.

“If I were up there speaking and I said something, and a bunch of people booed me, that’s their right,” she said. “If people don’t agree with what I’m saying in a public comment, it is their First Amendment right to boo me.”

• • •

Coffee Club 6.jpg

Charlotte Johnson said county commissioners brought on the criticism they've received over the New York Times issue. "It's an open sore and they put salt on it, and the whole country saw that they did that," she said.

Through all this, the coffee coalition has learned something about the county’s political balance. Despite Commissioner Carnahan’s statement that commissioner were “unanimously” elected by conservative Republicans, Malcohn researched records to find that Republicans have just under 50 percent of the county’s total voter registration, and the rest is split among Democrats and NPAs or members of minor parties.

She and others feel energized even more so to get their message out.

“We go out and wear these shirts to let people know they’re not alone,” she said. “They realize there are other people like me. I can take comfort in this and perhaps be more of a participant, because it doesn’t seem as hopeless as I thought.”

Perhaps, they acknowledged, the local issue has awakened their voices.

“Those of who have been quiet in the past,” Malcohn said, “might not be so quiet.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(23) comments

DaleP

Hi Trump Friends,

Are there any Trump enthusiasts concerned about the Trump coziness with the Putin regime?

The betrayal of our battle buddies on the field of war in Syria alone is worthy of disdain and Court Martial.

Willful ignorance and self interest can no longer be excused. History will not reflect well on the forever Trumpers IMHO.

Here are a few other things Trump lovers should consider:

Abuse of power to target political adversaries, critics, and the press;

Corruption of electoral processes;

Abuse of office to promote discrimination, hostility and unlawful violence,

Corruption and self-enrichment;

Obstruction of the administration of justice and Congressional inquiries; and

Misuse of armed forces and abuse of emergency powers.

Dump Trump 2019!

crizor

"The coalition’s Facebook page states a simple mission: “A group of folks fed-up with Trump’s lies, corruption, obstruction, national security risks etc, etc, etc.” But you're OK with HilLIARy's, Nancy's, Chuckie's, and about 300 other lying liberals in DC. TRUMP 2020 and beyond.

PamGary

When is this club? I would like to join them

DaleP

Bless your heart KIlsley.

KerryM

So the Trumpers have an office on 41 where they can sit around and commiserate about liberals. The Coffee Club can sit around Cattle Dogs and commiserate about Trump. What's the difference?

DaleP

I find the Trump/Putin association a betrayal to our Democracy. Don't get me started on what he did to the Kurds :-(

Putin Asset Much? Here's to hoping Trump loving folks see the light.

- Trump has repeatedly praised Putin

- Trump hired Manafort to run his campaign

- Trump suggested Russia can keep Crimea

- Trump's team softened the GOP platform on Ukraine

- Trump made light of Russian hacking

- Trump denied that Russia interfered in 2016

- Trump transition undermined Russian sanctions

- Trump was open to lifting Russian sanctions

- Trump refused to say Putin is a killer

- Trump mulled giving spy compounds to Russia

- Trump gave Russia classified intelligence

- Trump was reluctant to sign Russian sanctions

- Trump thanked Putin for expelling US diplomats

- Trump criticized and alienated NATO allies

- Trump eased sanctions on Deripaska

- Trump congratulated Putin on his sham election

- Trump defended USSR invasion of Afghanistan

- Trump praised pro-Russian leaders in Europe

- Trump didn't publicly condemn Russian attack

- Trump wanted to let Russia back in the G7

- Trump's Syria withdrawal gave Putin a boost

- Trump repeated Kremlin talking points on ISIS

- Trump spread Russian myths about Ukraine

- Trump temporarily froze US aid for Ukraine

- Trump considered visiting Putin on Russian soil

Old Florida Cracker

What a bunch of snowflake nonsense. Fake news.

crizor

Do you work for the Chronicle or trying to get a job there?

DaleP

Hi crizor,

Nope, I am happily retired. I am a Vet and consider myself to be a Patriot. I love my Country and my Liberal education. I love my Trump loving neighbors too.

I simply wish they did not sully our Star Spangled Banner by flying "individual ones" "No Bullshit 2020" flag beneath it.

I would welcome comments from folks who belong to the American Legion.

Don't hesitate to ask more questions :-)

Later,

Dale

SamMansfield

I’m amazed at the people in this county who hate low unemployment, soaring stock markets, great GDP and trade that favors the USA. The people who hate him can’t name one accomplishment or treasonous act and just restate talking points they heard from the MSM.

MikeBond

I get my Data straight from the St Louis Fed. And I don't "hate" liars, but I will certainly never respect their values.

SamMansfield

Dale P. Thanks for stating my case.

Miuke Nelson

So all is good, huh? You don't find anything wrong because all the news you read is biased propaganda from his co-conspirator. I actually read both liberal and conservative sources.

MikeBond

For me Trump is just the symptom, conservatism is the disease. Corporate tax cuts will NEVER pay for themselves. Few tax cuts ever have paid their own way. Lies are NOT freedom and patriotism is NOT poisoning your own drinking water. Conservatism continues to be a lie.

LizBurda

Yet, the economy is a record highs, unemployment is at record lows. Tax cuts along with better trade agreements are to thank. BTW, why can't democrats in the House vote on USMCA? They have done nothing, with the exception of attacks via hearsay gossip.

ritac

Stock market, which reached record lies in 2007, had nowhere to go but up and did so during the Obama years as did job creation resulting in lower unemployment. The current administration has cut taxes for the wealthiest and that savings is not going back into businesses but rather into CEO salaries and bonuses creating an ability to buy back their owns stocks. Reagan promoted trickle down economics and it's been proven that it doesn't work. Since at least 2009, Citrus County has had the third highest unemployment in the state, so trying to day the economy is doing well doesn't mean locally for certain. The House of Representatives, BTW, has passed multiple pieces of legislation and they sit in a purgatory of sorts on McConnell's desk.

AGardner

I heard that the WH Admin will be giving more relief to farmers. They certainly deserve it as it's the trade agreements that '45' has yet to make or made some really bad deals. I pray that you are not rancher, farmer, or work in retail. I mean that. Oh, by the way, did you about FedEx? The tax cut dropped their tax rate from 34% in FY 2017 to under 0% this fiscal year. That is 1.6 Billion they didn't pay. How much would that pay for? And that's just one large corporation. one. Do you think '45's' tax cut will be as generous to you?

Miuke Nelson

The concerns the US Democrats have with the new agreement is; it lacks strong labor protections, it lacks strong environmental protections, it advances the interests of brand-name pharmaceutical companies at the expense of patients and its enforcement mechanism is too weak.

DandyCandy535

I wish this group every success in bringing focus to the fact (not fake news) that the USA is currently afflicted with the worst President ever to occupy the WH.

LEIGHD

Great!!! I know a ton of other people who support our Country, but not the traitor in there White House. Perhaps we will add to the ranks of this club!!

KIlsley

This club is totally insane .Trump was done more for this country than any modern president to date, without pay mind you.

There is not another man alive that could with stood the last three years of insanity the has put him through.

Miuke Nelson

No more so than a Trump Club which is akin to a Liars Club. "Trump was done more for this country than any modern president to date, without pay mind you." #1 is a talking point and just another example 0f the long line of lies and half-truths. Not taking a salary and not profiting are2different things. Taking a salary is allowed, Personally benefiting from the presidency is not and is actually impeachable itself.

Old Florida Cracker

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