Letter: Decision unrelated to “right to vote”

Letter: Decision unrelated to “right to vote”

Louise Bird
St Augustine, FL

Dear Editor and Historic City News readers:

This afternoon I wrote to my St Johns County District 5 representative; Rachael Bennett. I copied the entire Board, but my communication is addressed to her regarding the proposed sales tax increase.

I watched the entire commission meeting last night. My interpretation is different than yours regarding letting the people decide whether to vote on an issue that may be on a ballot. I think that the voters should come to the commission and show their grass root support to have the commission vote to place items on the ballot and that citizens take the initiative to make their case for why a special election is needed.

This attempt was the other way around and the commissioner who voted against placing the 1-cent tax on the ballot protected the voters. It is obvious some had already made up their minds that they wanted the tax to pass and would use the special election as another way to insure that the tax would pass. This is exactly backwards of the intent of having items placed on the ballot. If a group of citizens representing every district came to you with their proof of consensus to place this on the ballot and commissioners voted against placing this on the ballot, then I would agree that the commissioners were denying the citizens of their right to vote.

In this case you commissioners made the 1-cent tax proposal and attempted to persuade the other commissioners that placing items on the ballot without any grass roots support and spending $200k-$300k to hold a special election was the right thing to do. This is exactly backwards of the intent of having items placed on the ballot.

The secret survey, Mr Wanchick’s dire perspective which changed from the necessary 1-cent to 1/2-cent, attempting to handicap the results in a low turnout special election, the promotion of this proposal by you and other special interests, shaming the commissioners who were actually representing their constituents, the use of taxpayer money to fund the special election and advertisement to support it, all add up to massive distrust. The 15-year-old speaker was right on in his observations and he and we did not buy the sales pitch.

The results of the vote last night were not an attempt to deny voters the “right to vote”.

It was a vote to protect the voters from overreaching government representatives and others who serve us. Spending $250k and associated advertising costs is a big deal and it didn’t seem to bother you at all. This time my vote did count with other commissioners, but not with my district representative.

Using a fee based supplement for services may not be allowed, so allow those who don’t want the cuts to their favorite services to make “donations” and you will see how serious they are about their quality of life.

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