Jill Yelverton's Blog:
Regaining control of our communities
I'm not much of a gambler. I get nervous after forking over a dollar for a Lotto ticket. Investing your time, energy and effort into a political campaign has to be the biggest roll of the dice there is.
One of the news channels out of Orlando ran a piece on Amendment 4 today with the introduction: Twenty days until Election Day.
I have to admit, pressure is building.
Never having been involved in anything more political than casting my votes, being involved with Florida Hometown Democracy is teaching me things I never thought I'd learn.
Like, how your opposition can resort to outrageous predications of disaster when the system they are fighting to stay in control of is what has created the economic disaster we are experiencing today. Like confusing people who are unfamiliar with the issues about who the special interests are. Maybe this is just part of the political game.
I know for those of us rooting for Amendment 4 this is not a game. Most of us are regular people who learned a little something about land use and growth management and the way the system works when a developer came into our city or county and proposed a project that was so intolerable; we just couldn't sit back and let it happen without a fight.
When people speak out against a project or development at a city council or county commission meeting, developers are quick to fling the label NIMBY, "not on my backyard," at us.
Well, supporters of Amendment 4 come from all over the state. We are people living in cities such as Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa, in rural areas like Gilchrist and Citrus counties and in counties like Pasco and Hernando, St. Lucy and Manatee that fall somewhere in between. In a sense, we have taken on this effort because Florida is our backyard and we care. Not because it's how we make our living, like the developers, home builders and the Realtors who like the way the system works now because it's stacked in their favor, but because we care about the places we live and want more control over how they grow and the quality of our lives.
Amendment 4's opposition admits that Florida has not done a very good job of growth management; they admit that things should change but say that Amendment 4 isn't the answer. They say that because if Amendment 4 passes, it is they who will have to change. They will have to follow the rules and build where we have agreed in our comprehensive plans that growth should occur, not where it is most convenient for them. They want the rest of us to be the ones who have to compromise our quality of life to fit their greedy plans. And make no mistake about it, greed is a factor in this or the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Builders Association, the Florida Association of Realtors and the homebuilders who created the housing bubble wouldn't be forking over millions of dollars to see it fail.
In 20 days we will see the result of a seven-year effort by average people who want to level the playing field for all of us who just want a vote when their elected officials make radical changes to places where they live.
A lot of us are getting a little tired. It's tough being David in a David and Goliath fight. We are also a little scared that for all of our hard work, our truth may be outshone by the glare that a multi-million dollar media blitz can create.
For those of out here working to make this happen, I want to thank Lesley Blackner for having the courage to stand up for the rights of all Floridians who just want to have more than three minutes in front of a microphone at a commission meeting to protect the way they live. For giving us this chance to have the right to vote on issues that impact our property taxes, property values and quality of life.
Keep your chin up, Lesley; it ain't over 'til it’s over.