St Augustine, FL
I think most of us today have had enough with empty campaign rhetoric, negative mudslinging attack ads, and self-serving hypocritical ‘scare crow’ positions. To this end, I am having some real trouble reconciling some things between St John’s County Commission Candidate Jeb Smith’s campaign statements and what he actually does.
On the trail and in his campaign literature, he states, “We must stop growing government on the backs of the next generation. One single subsidy will be the last straw.” In debates, he has suggested that Commissioners should work for little or no pay in order to reduce the tax burden and that real fiscal conservatism must be employed.
Yet, I recently came across some information that shows that Mr. Smith accepted a grant of $1.655 million of taxpayer funds to “protect” his land from eminent domain (while the option to protect it at no cost also existed), and records show that some or all of this money was utilized to acquire additional land holdings. http://www.myflorida.com/myflorida/cabinet/agenda10/0608/DACS0608.pdf
Moreover, he is listed on the State’s Top Tier Project Priority List for 2014 to receive yet another tax payer funded $1.7 million grant to protect that newly acquired land – for which funds from grant #1 were used to acquire. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/ARC/Agendas/2013/DEC/Complete_Agenda.pdf (see pages: 163, 177)
I have met and interacted with Mr. Smith, and he is a likable man. I do not necessarily begrudge anyone from applying for and receiving grants, subsidies, and other available funding – after all, who in their right mind wouldn’t love to take ownership of real estate worth millions of dollars without actually having to pay for it? But, with all due respect, it appears to be somewhat disingenuous and hypocritical to call for lower taxes, less government, and an elimination of subsidies on the campaign stump while at the same time enriching yourself by increasing the size of your land holdings by utilizing $3.355 million of tax payer subsidies, and I think it is about time we start demanding honesty and straight shooting from those we select to run our government.