Letter: Amendment 4 offers well-founded solution

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to the January 4th, 2010 guest editorial by Tom Patton which claims “We already have Hometown Democracy”.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it the superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.” (Thomas Paine)

That a cheerleader for the development status quo like Mr. Patton could sound reasonable just shows how hypnotized the masses he so underrates and dismisses are by bad habit.(I.e. letting an oligarchy run their state.)

The “completely bogged down system and impossibly long ballots” Mr. Patton vows will haunt us if we lose our heads and (horrors) give ourselves a vote on growth only spotlights what junkies local bodies are which each year pass outlandish numbers of Comprehensive Plan changes against the peoples’ will.

The onus is on these to explain why they so flippantly have dissed the mandate and spirit of the Growth Management Act and that of their own Comp Plans.

Under A-4, we will only be yoked with as many amendment votes—land use deviations to sprawl OUTSIDE urban confines—as commissioners force on us. If there are “many”, we must ask: Why have so many been approved? And if they are, thank heavens the grounded and diverse electorate can now temper pols’ inebriation. Dangerous drunks need incarceration by us, the sober wardens.

The truth about how numerous votes would be under 4 is that far fewer applications would be put through in the first place since inveterate bottom-liners rarely take iffy risks that don’t show a high % chance of big payoff (which they neatly get with beholden commissioners). They know that their own status, under voter review, would be reduced from bully to polite suitor, because they would have to actually convince a potentially impacted citizenry that their project is good. This, rather than an obstacle to economic health, would provide much-needed moderation in the pace and quality of growth—a moderation at this late date proven untenable under elected “representatives” bustling about serving moguls and LLCs instead of piddly US.

Patton’s dismissiveness toward Floridians distressed over turncoat “representatives” (as if the labeled knew the sense of that word) shows his true allegiance to speculators. There is no sound reason a Comp Plan should be changed often—and any business person gambling on a land use change to which he is by no means entitled, deserves what he gets. That’s speculation: risk.

So if “thousands of business decisions” rest on distorting the growth blueprint of my town, I can guiltlessly vote them down. Such projects are often too hastily-considered by local councils. Let biz whizzes brainstorm (and barnstorm) within the urban core and existing land use!

Mr. Patton illogically disavows being an “advocate for unfettered development” yet proudly defends a system which fetters zilch, but instead has created a false sense of entitlement among speculators that we should just roll over and let them finish off Florida.

No thanks. There is no “right” to a land use change, and no justification for systemic protectionism for gamblers wreaking heck on community stability, home values and Florida’s frail ecology. Contrary to Mr. Patton’s assertion, we do allow “anybody to build anything anywhere.” The venerable elected he paints as the bulwark of “representative democracy” don’t blink in laying the groundwork for crazy-quilt land carnage with their votes. Votes evidencing palpable contempt for what their constituents want and need.

There is nothing “representative” about selling Florida’s future—and taxpaying affected residents—down the river.

With such reasoning, who needs genuine delusion? Come November, Amendment 4 offers the well-founded solution to a problem decades in the making, which—unbelievably—remains invisible to those clinging to the Ponzi template. We only have one state. Once it’s lost, it’s too late. Legislators and local governments have been given countless chances that they’ve willfully blown, to our detriment. Only we can save Florida — with our votes.

Rebecca Eagan
Neptune Beach, FL

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