Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill is fuming after a box labeled “industrial strength dildos” arrived in the mail at his county office Thursday.
Underhill showed the box to reporters following the County Commission meeting on Thursday, saying it demonstrated how far the level of civility has fallen in Escambia County.
“There’s no way this is even remotely appropriate in the way that we conduct business here in Escambia County,” Underhill said while pointing to the box. “We have staff members, young people, who have to handle the mail here. I’m a sailor, you’re not going to offend me with anything, but this kind of garbage, and this is the kind of garbage put out by the same kinds of people, the same lies, the same hate, the same anger that they bring to every single issue.”
The box itself appeared to be a practical joke box and was only filled with paper and a packing slip billing for the package that included the email address of the sender.
The email address belongs to a Perdido Key resident named Scott Anderson, who told the News Journal he had no idea about the box being sent to Underhill or how his email address ended up on the packing slip.
“I’m totally stunned by all of this,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he’s only interacted with Underhill a few times on the Nextdoor website over what he said was a lack of maintenance at the Perdido Key Dog Park.
“I suppose I could’ve irritated maybe an Underhill supporter,” Anderson said. “That’s the only thing I can think of.”
Despite the box appearing to be a joke, it was no laughing matter for Underhill.
Underhill regularly comments in local Facebook groups and often takes a combative tone with people with whom he disagrees.
Underhill said laughing at the antics of his dedicated critics only makes it worse because the time and energy spent on dealing with his critics is time not spent tackling issues that matter such as funding for public safety.
Underhill pointed to the meeting on Thursday as an example. On Thursday, members of Save Pensacola Beach protesting the county’s move to remove language approved by voters last year in a non-binding referendum.
During the discussion, Underhill said he compared the group and its founder Dianne Krummel to antifa, short for anti-facists, the name given to far-left protestors who often wear masks and engage in violent attacks during protest.
“Dianne, at some point you’re going to have to trade in that yellow shirt for a black mask if you keep this up,” Underhill said.
While speaking to reporters, Underhill blamed the press for feeding what he said was “radical activism” of the group and argued that the County Commission chambers should be a place of civil discussion.
When asked if his own speech, especially online, was uncivil, Underhill rejected the idea.
“I don’t think I’m uncivil online at all,” Underhill said. “I engage the adversary. The adversary is the lies, the untruths. The reality is if we as your — especially as conservative elected officials — do not push back against the spending, if we don’t push back against the corruption, if we don’t push back against the lies that are said here, then who will?”