Commission could learn from Flagler County

Do you believe in “intelligent design”? I know, the courts have ruled that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution so we don’t teach anything about the creation in our public schools.

If we did, however, we would also have to explain “un-intelligent design”.

We’re not perfect. Our leaders are not perfect; and, arguably no more intelligent than the people who they serve. Whether that is by design, I couldn’t tell you. I do understand the theory of “free will”. I see it in action every time our intelligent commissioners design a policy that profits only the few — at the expense of the many.

In St Johns County, commissioners, and candidates with designs on those jobs, seem to recognize that the economy is in the toilet; at least in public comments and campaign literature. That’s intelligent.

They seem to recognize that in order for our local economy to recover, we need positive incentives — more employment, better paying jobs, and opportunities to become self-sufficient. Well, some do — we are trying to keep those who don’t from holding office.

We’re never going to escape mobility problems in downtown St Augustine, for example, because we a hamstrung with an underlying sixteenth-century design. Would the “intelligent design” be to level St Augustine and start over with a plan that contemplated motor cars? After all, we have two “arks” under construction for the 450th. Surely Maury Keiser or Dan Holiday would let me aboard one of them. All we need is Noah and a rising tide.

In our local elections, some are beating the anti-development drum again. In District 3, for example, it started when Ben Rich put out his stop-sign-shaped “no growth” campaign signs. He lasted one term. His successor, Mark Miner, didn’t even complete one full term. Finally, after eight years of dumbassedness, we have a mentally stable grown-up moving into that seat.

In District 5, people drank the Ken Bryan “developers have raped and pillaged the county” Kool-Aid. Oddly, his anti-development rhetoric was rejected when he ran as a Democrat. Again, he only lasted one term.

Like Miner, Bryan’s mentor, Tom Manuel, didn’t last one term in District 2 — because you can’t hold office while you’re in federal prison. But, with Bryan’s assistance, we now are blessed with Jay Morris. Like every other New Jersey transplant who comes to St Johns County and thinks they can fix us, his focus is solely on his own back yard. Don’t trespass on Ponte Vedra Beaches, don’t build affordable houses in my neighborhood, and what time are cocktails being served?

Why can’t our leaders use their intelligence to inspire and encourage others to invest, develop, and help grow our badly battered economy? When we promote policies predicated on the assumption that St Johns County is assured prosperity and a long-term, high quality of life, we are doomed to achieve neither.

Just because you can’t do everything does not mean you cannot do anything.

Just look at the selfish impediments of impact fees. The very existence of impact fees in St Johns County drives investment to neighboring counties.

On October 1, the Flagler County commission approved a two-year moratorium on fees collected on all permits submitted to the county, the City of Bunnell, the Town of Beverly Beach and the City of Flagler Beach.

The commissioners exercised their free will to implement an intelligent design to help the market recover by exempting county residents from payment of the county’s transportation and parks and recreation impact fees.

Under the moratorium, a new single-family home would be exempt from paying more than $1,400 in transportation and impact fees and more than $260 in parks and recreation impact fees.

“It shows we are good stewards of our community by trying to help in any way we can,” said Flagler County Commission Chairman Barbara Revels. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The bottom line is this. We need intelligence in our leaders. We need policies that are built on a design that serves the people, the community, and helps us to rebuild our economy. And, a little inspiration from the original architect whose design brought us here in the first place wouldn’t hurt, either.

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