Political Schizophenia

Fakename is having a hard time these days.  Oddly enough she is on the Board of two local organizations–one devoted to local business, one devoted to local environmental issues.  Apparently, never the twain shall meet (except in Fakename’s brain). 

The business organization is publicly taking a stand against Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution, which will be voted on this year.  The amendment is more familiarly known as the “Hometown Democracy” amendment.

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement:  Steve just posted a response on my “I Am Sad” post.  Steve:  Fakename is pro-Amendment 4.  Stop stealing my thunder 🙂

Fakename was the lone dissenter in the business organization, but has been asked to explain in detail why at the next Board meeting, next week.  Actually, Fakename thinks another of her fellow Board members is also pro-4, but quietly so. 

First let’s talk about the process by which the state Constitution can be amended in Florida.  An amendment can either be proposed by the Legislature, or by citizen intiative.  This requires a certain number of signatures on a petition.  The amendment language must be clear, and it must be “single issue”.  You can’t, for example, say that pregnant pigs cannot be confined inhumanely AND that piglets must be confined in the same space as their mothers.  You think I’m kidding with this example.  But the prohibition against inhumane confinement of pregnant pigs is now enshrined in the Florida Constitution. 

The judge of clarity, single-issueness, and whether or not there truly are a sufficient number of valid signatures on the petition is:  the Florida Supreme Court.  Which shot down the Hometown Democracy petition the last time it almost got on the ballot, on the clarity and single-issue front.  Back to the drawing board for the Hometown Democracy movement.  During the interim, the anti-HD people ramped up their fight, and managed to get something through the legislature which would allow people who signed the petition in favor of HD to “revoke” their signatures.  HD sued, and won. 

Now then, what is all this fuss about?  As previously mentioned, Florida has a so-called Smart Growth policy.  All 67 counties are required to have what is called a Comprehensive Plan.  All land-use regulations are subservient to the Plan, and the concept is to guide growth in a responsible way, while preserving natural resources.  And it is a miserable failure.  The evidence of that is all around us.  Given a free hand, developers will pave over every inch of Florida until it all looks like Miami Beach.  (If that doesn’t give you nightmares, you’ve never been to Miami Beach.)

The HD amendment says simply this:  any change to the Comp Plan must be voted on by the citizens.  The absurdity of the arguments against that idea are laughable.  Argument 1:  It will break the bank.  Counties will go broke having special elections every time someone wants to change the Comp Plan.  Reality:  the amendment doesn’t say that a special election has to be held.  It can be done during the next regularly scheduled election.  In addition, changes to the Comp Plan are somewhat rare in the present broken system, and they should be rarer still. 

Argument 2.  Opinions one way or another would be swayed by advertising on one side or the other, so that reasoned, expert opinion would not prevail.  The side with the most money would win.  Oh please!  Fakename is about to develop hiccups from laughing so hard.  Like that isn’t exactly what is happening right now?  Except the money, in one form or another, is going to the officials who make the decisions rather than to expensive ad campaigns.  Implicit in this argument is also that you, the citizen, are not smart enough to make these decisions, and you should leave it to your elected officials.  Let’s hear it for representative government! 

There actually already is a process in place for citizens to “comment” on proposed Comp Plan changes, except nobody ever does.  Why, say the antis, would we expect HD to change that? Fakename says:  a comment is different from a vote.  She also says:  bring on the advertising!  She bets more people will pay attention then.  Usually they don’t, until they end up with a Wal-Mart in the back yard.  (Ahem, this actually happened, more or less, to Fakename, although she fought tooth and nail against it.)

In closing, let’s talk about developers, who have been stereotyped and demonized during this fight.  Fakename says:  rightfully so.  Some of Fakename’s readership may characterize developers as “producers”, which would be true in a sense.  Building things creates jobs, at least temporarily.  But in order to stay in business, and to keep those jobs going, they have to keep building things.  It’s like a giant Ponzi scheme. 

Even Tallahassee caught the condo fever that has consumed the rest of the state.  Fakename can point out a recently completed 24-story condo building near her office, which has some 300 units.  At last count, they’ve sold around 10.  It’s in foreclosure.  But do the developers care?  Nope.  They got their money.  They’ve now moved on to plans to pave over the Appalachicola National Forest.

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22 responses to “Political Schizophenia

  1. Are you telling me that we had to put up with all of that construction mess so they could sell 10 units? That’s pitiful!

  2. Hi Nick. Nice to see you again.And yes, that’s what I’m telling you. I follow it fairly closely.

  3. And P.S., Fakename happens to know that you are a very urban guy. D.C., NYC, etc. Thinks you wouldn’t care much if all the spiders in the world died 🙂

  4. I just had an enjoyable read of the Florida Constitution. Section 21 (as Fakename promised) is titled, “Limiting cruel and inhumane confinement of pigs during pregnancy.” Reading on, Section 22 is titled, “Parental notice of termination of a minor’s pregnancy.” Pregnant pigs and pregnant teenagers. Hmmph.

    More on point — why can’t your local town pass local zoning ordnances that meet the approval of local voters? Why is this a state-wide issue?

  5. Fakename is very happy that Rocky took the time to research what Fakename said. Her opinion may differ, but the facts on which it is based are real. Fakename will never lie to you 🙂

  6. And in answer to your question, no city/county can pass legislation which conflicts with state law, similar to the way that no state can enact a law which conflicts with federal law. If that were possible, we would still have slaves in South Carolina.
    A City/County can enact more stringent rules than the state, but nothing less stringent. That’s why it has to be a statewide issue.

  7. > Stop stealing my thunder

    Let’s make thunder together! 😉 This old Trotsykite is ready for a good, nasty street battle (only figuratively, unfortunately) over Amendment 4.

    I wish you had added a few other “facts” for those who think they matter (and I am not one of those because I know of no facts that support love, honor and other things that really count.)

    There are many facts that are gasoline on the fire of the pro-Amendment 4 folks (and do I take the “burn, baby, burn” approach to politics.)

    Such as, the fact that the Governor and Cabinet had to be the one who sided with citizens who appealed their county commission’s decision to allow thousands more homes in that county even though there was already a 7 year supply. The Cabinet noted that the law required them to consider the “need” for all those homes and the idea that they were needed was not rational.

    Or, the fact that the State had to limit Comp Plan amendments because they were being amended willy nilly. One jurisdiction had over 1,000 amendments to its plan in one year.

    I wish we could get a count on just how many elected officials have been indicted for Comp Plan vote selling. There’s the two in Palm Beach County. I know of another two near Alachua.

    And let’s not forget the State senator’s “barn” that was the only structure allowed by the Comp Plan but just happened to include two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, etc. Wasn’t there a feature on it in Better Barns and Gardens? 😉

    All good revolutionaries believe in creating their own reality despite the “facts.” If folks let the facts cow them, there’d have been no revolutions because the likelihood of them succeeding was not good.

    Including the American Revolution, which was won through sheer luck and the help of the French. And I’d not have won some 40 years ago when the administration told us to end the Student Union sit-in. After considering the facts, I went “all in” and the administration folded. That created a new fact… which I won’t describe in the traditional vernacular here but has to do with not having sex with me… 😉

    I do miss the 70’s….so exciting. Too bad I’m too old to be a street fightin’ man as in those days. I’d love to teach the impotent intellectuals a few new “facts.” I need an avatar…lol!

  8. Steve: I thought we both agreed that the marching in the streets stuff doesn’t work anymore. I am at the barricades with you only
    metaphorically 🙂
    While we are listing examples of corruption, let’s not forget Ray Sansom and his airplane hangar.

    • > I am at the barricades with you only metaphorically 🙂

      The metaphorical barricades are the only ones I am at too! I’m too damn old to be a street fighting man!

      Besides, time for those younger folks to save the world. I figure I’m close enough to checking out (say 30 years) that I really don’t care if the world goes down the tubes *after* I check out. Not my problem!

      So, I have checked out from the world’s problems…
      And I won’t be be back!

      As for Ray…wasn’t he cleared of that charge! That for the court to question the legitimacy of a Legislative decision violates the separation of powers? The voters alone will decide if that was improper by their decision to reelect or not reelect him.

      But anything that increases the people’s cynicism and distrust of government, which I think is very high but needs to go even higher, is WONDERFUL!

      I am not joking that want to see political paralysis in this country. I want to see what happened to the economy happen to the political system. Chaos!

      I don’t know what will happen after that, but I believe that real change requires tearing down. Most folks fear the unknown. I relish it because I believe that whatever happens, I can roll with it to my advantage.
      I always have.

  9. Spiders have their purpose just as long as they stay away from me. But I’ve been in Florida long enough to know to fear mosquitoes more than spiders.

    Has that idiot Sansom been scheduled for trail yet?

  10. I am totally with you, Nick. Spiders outside my house are the good guys. Spiders inside my house have made a fatal mistake.
    Sansom has not gone on trial yet but why are you asking me? I depend on you to keep track of that stuff 🙂

  11. Nick: Not yet. Steve: The political corruption charge was thrown out by a judge. So the State’s Attorney brought new charges of grand theft and conspiracy. Those still stand.

  12. I am native to Florida. I have followed Florida’s Politics and elections and for many years. I have worked in the corridors of government on both sides of issues. In my opinion the two worst developments in Florida’s Political History are the signature amendment to the constitution and term limits.

    As far as amending the constitution by popularity vote you never really know for sure who is behind the damn thing and what the unintended consequences will be. The sponsoring entity has absolutely no mandate to tell the truth and give full disclosure. The pig amendment is a classic example of emotional manipulation (all the pig farmers moved to Georgia). So maybe it was the Georgia Department of Commerce doing rural development that got that asinine amendment on the ballot.We voted for high speed rail but didn’t have the money to fund it. We voted to amend the class room size but didn’t have the money to fund the new construction that resulted. I am against any new constitutional amendment that does not have a full legislative vetting. If we are going to give legal authority to the groups that get the most signatures and have the deepest pockets then we don’t need legislators that we pay to solve problems. And as I have said before as long as we continue to grow population we will have development. The process can and does frequently work well. What the people can and should do just as easily as voting on proposed changes in the comp plan is confront their elected officials and hold them accountable during the process and quit junking up the constitution. Imagine if it were just that easy to amend the US constitution without having any funding authority.

    Term limits simply allow the bureaucrats to make the important decisions for the revolving door representatives. And they are not accountable to the electorate.

    There are good and bad developers as with the general population. Lumping them into a sweeping generalization is unfair to the good guys.

    .

  13. Ptfan- Well said. But you also raise some excellent and intriguing points which go far beyong the Florida constitutional amendment process.

    I am reminded of the Swiss system (“Obligatory Referendums”) where voters in the local Cantons actually get to vote on spending. While there are similar things in some states, if we gave voters the power to actually approve local and state budget expenditures, we might actually be able to cut down on out-of-control spending. Or at least a state-wide constitutional amendment that eliminates deficit spending? (This is trickier at the national level since there are general national emergencies — but not at the state or local levels.)

    In NY, we need to approve certain Bond Issues, but they NEVER tell you on the voting machine what it actually means to your taxes. (To quote Margaret Thatcher … which will undoubtedly rile up some readers of this blog… “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”) We already vote on the school budgets in some towns for example.

    Here’s some more details:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendum#Switzerland

  14. Unless I’m mistaken, Florida prohibits deficit spending…if I’m wrong, I’m ready to be corrected. I think the issue is priorities: if you have only X dollars, what do you spend it on?
    As for amending the Florida constitution, I thought the pregnant pig thing was kind of silly myself. Why couldn’t that just be taken care of by statute? The argument my animal welfare friends gave was: pigs don’t vote. Which legislator are you going to get to sponsor such a bill? In the case of that amendment I can tell you who was behind it: the Humane Society of the U.S.
    P.S. Fakename had her Board meeting in which which she explained her support for Amendment 4 and it went about as well as you might expect 🙂

    • p> regnant pig thing… Why couldn’t that just be taken > care of by statute?

      FN, it is my understanding that in fact the supporters tried to go the statute route but were rebuffed by the legislature in favor of the agricultural lobby. So they went the amendment.

      That is why I fully support these “bypass the Legislature” methods. They and most other politicians do not give a damn about the interests of the people. All they care about is power and money.

      That’s why I support Amendment 4, all tax limitation referenda, etc. The more power is taken from government, the better. It helps get us to the point where government breaks down or is in gridlock. Then we have…..

  15. The only other Board member who probably agrees with me (not that he necessarily would have said anything if he had been there) was absent, dammit. At least if he had been there, he would have been moral support.
    One Board member was gunning for me from the minute I requested it be on the agenda and spoke to me as if I was in kindergarten and just didn’t quite understand the issue. One segued into how allowing people to vote on things is how we ended up with Barack Obama as president. Two others said they appreciated my taking a stand on my beliefs, and one said, I like how you made it personal (by referring to development resulting in flooding of a Board member’s house). The remaining Board member is getting married next week and was like, can we just finish this meeting? There you have it: democracy at work. But we are all civilized, and it was completely cordial.

  16. “I am reminded of the Swiss system (“Obligatory Referendums”) where voters in the local Cantons actually get to vote on spending. While there are similar things in some states, if we gave voters the power to actually approve local and state budget expenditures, we might actually be able to cut down on out-of-control spending”

    Rock, sounds logical.

    But let’s look closer at Florida. People come here to retire. They have raised their kids, paid their taxes in other states. They come here looking for a free ride, no state income taxes (and that will never change because they vote against taxes). Yet they demand services for health and safety that cost revenue. They don’t care about education, thier kids are grown or they didn’t have any. And then they die and take their estates with them to the heirs in other states. The number 1 freight item out of Tampa International Airport is dead bodies.

    We desperately need a state income tax here but no one has the balls to commit political suicide to push it.

    “Unless I’m mistaken, Florida prohibits deficit spending”

    LOL and yet we allow any group who get enough sigs to get an ammendment on the ballot that REQUIRES deficit spending……..like ammendment 4.

    It’s the damn carpetbaggers that screw it all up:)
    Or are they really scallywags?

    • > It’s the damn carpetbaggers that screw it all up:)
      > Or are they really scallywags?

      PT! Even *I*, who has only been in Florida for 40 of my 58 years know the difference!

      Carpetbaggers are the damn Yankees who came down here to cash in. They’re still coming and screwing up our state.

      Scallywags are the local white trash that supported them.

      Carpetbaggers can just be run out on that high speed rail that everyone wants to build. (Not me, of course. Good concept but no one will give up their SUV.)

      But scallywags…they need to swing!

      BTW, I guess you saw in the St. Pete Times about Harry Singletary? Even though he graduated two years before I set foot on the campus, he was still legend. For basketball; i didn’t know he was the first African-American to graduate from FPC.

      Now one thing I think set FPC athletes so much apart from many other college athletes is that they really were student-athletes, not just jocks hoping to get into NFL, NBA, etc.

      A basketball center I saw play when I was living there is now a doctor here in Tally.

  17. BTW, I guess you saw in the St. Pete Times about Harry Singletary

    I did. I knew him and had great respect for him as Secretary of DOC. He was very very capable and fair. It was a tough job and he did it better than anyone I have seen. He wil be missed.

  18. Pingback: Stepping Out On a Limb…Or Not « Fakename2’s Weblog

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