Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2010 Statewide Elections: will Floridians finally have a dialogue about the costs of growth? ... by gimleteye

Florida Democrats are giddy over the commotion in Republican ranks caused, yesterday, by the quick endorsement by the national Republican leadership of Gov. Charlie Crist in his primary race for US Senate against former leader of the Florida House, Marco Rubio. What a spectacle to watch telegenic Republican also-rans do battle with Gov. Crist like the squid and the whale, or, the python and alligator. Republican radicals who want another turn at the wheel after so much economic carnage would run over Crist and straight into the buzzsaw: that Florida's electorate is increasingly moderate and angry.

For Democrats looking at a slate of open statewide seats, including Governor, there's one problem: they actually have to win. As a boxed-in political minority in Florida’s gerrymandered districts, state Democrats have a drained battery and little spark to speak of.

There is one place where opposing energies could finally be engaged: the costs of growth based on the unsustainable development of Florida's suburbs. The irony is that Republicans planned to claim the suburbs for themselves and, for a long time, did. But the overwhelming number of foreclosures and rapidly spreading misery scrambled the equation. Like millions of Rip Van Winkles, suburban voters have woken up scratching their heads: how were we persuaded, or conned, into buying into the housing bubble madness mis-labeled, "the ownership society"?

Here is how it works out. Marco Rubio, the Jeb Bush standard bearer, stands for the growth-at-any-cost policies that inflated the housing bubble in Florida, laying waste to Florida’s quality of life, overburdening schools in crowded urban areas, decimating the environment, while enriching a small group of very wealthy bankers, land speculators, and developers.

Gov. Charlie Crist has been careful to avoid a frontal battle with the rock miners, the highway builders and the development lobby. But under the public radar, a battle has been raging through successive sessions of the state legislature—which Democrats have been powerless to influence—over policies reflecting what developers and speculators want at the expense of the environment and quality of Florida's communities.

That battle is exemplified right now by a bill, SB 360, that will soon be delivered to Gov. Crist. Its effect, and of next year’s anticipated sunset review of the Florida Depatment of Community Affairs, is to further eviscerate protections of the public interest in favor of the development industry and land speculators. But there are dozens of other examples, too.

For instance, Florida Hometown Democracy, the grass roots citizens initiative to change the Florida constitution by qualifying through petition. The referendum is likely to qualify for the 2010 ballot box if enough citizens get off their butts and sign petitions. (By all means, make this your priority today if you haven't already.) Florida Republicans have passed one measure after another, to dampen its chances including a measure that now requires sixty percent and not a simple majority of the statewide vote to amend the Florida constitution. FHD provides that changes to growth plans already adopted by counties and municipalities would be subject to popular vote and not the charade of local politics operating as extensions of campaign contributors from the Growth Machine.

The Republican majority has been fueled by money in opposition to Florida Hometown Democracy. The Chambers of Commerce and Associated Industries have pledged to spend whatever it takes to defeat the will of citizens who are far more energized than either political party against the excesses of the building boom and economic crash.

It would seem this great populist cause at a time of severe economic hardship, underscored by the outstanding book by St. Pete Times writers Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite, “Paving Paradise: Florida’s vanishing wetlands” would energize state Democratic leadership. But so far, not. State Democrats have failed to connect the current economic crisis, and budget deficits, to the frantic accommodation by Republicans to developers and speculators.

Floridians have been the gullible victims of the greatest Ponzi scheme in state history: a housing market bubble whose beneficiaries are still, in large part, rigging the system to reignite suburban sprawl and a failed pattern of economic growth. The game is about sprawl's costs, imposed on taxpayers who are now being asked to bail out the insiders and the schemers. For decades, it's been the game but neither political party wanted to challenge its rules. Now, the side lines on the field have changed with the economic collapse. All that remains is to see if the Democrats are willing to run the full width of the field, or, if they stay to plan to head back to the barn after days spent chewing roughage.


Anonymous said...

I wish you would not compare the creeps who have run this state into the dirt to our fellow earth creatures, aka "animals." Animals don't do the kind of crap these 2 legged beasts do. They don't despoil the earth for their fellow earth creatures. I wonder if God made a mistake with us.

Anonymous said...

Was thinking about Crist and I don't think a Democrat can beat him. I wonder if I still have time to change my party and vote for Rubio in the primary so the Democrats have a chance.

I believe Rubio will move over to the Governor's race. With Sink, it will be the race to watch.

Mensa said...

I recognized some of the republican leaders in the picture.

Anonymous said...

Gelber for Attorney General.

Anonymous said...

From the Treasure Coast Palm;

Charlie Carlson: Separating fact from the Florida chamber’s fiction (BIG LIE) about Hometown Democracy

By Charlie Carlson, guest columnist

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Florida Chamber’s big lie about Hometown Democracy is on the move, mutating and spinning so fast it’s hard to keep up with it. A new version of the big lie just got thrown onto this Commentary page, Bob Trudell’s April 9 column, “Disenfranchising military voters: Hometown Democracy in St. Pete Beach.” The title screamed: Hometown Democracy is disenfranchising military voters. As a military retiree and 10th-generation Floridian, I found it rather offensive.

Straight story: Hometown Democracy is the statewide petition drive to amend the Florida Constitution to give citizens an automatic veto on growth-plan changes that local commissions have approved.

Mr. Trudell dumped a garbage can’s worth of disinformation and misinformation into his column. I’m going to try to clean up the mess.

Mr. Trudell claims Hometown Democracy will hurt military voters. This is simply not true. But the fact is there is a proposed amendment out there that really does discriminate in a very concrete way against military voters. It’s the look-alike petition sponsored by the Chamber-backed group, Floridians for Smarter Growth, intended to derail Hometown Democracy. The funny thing is, Mr. Trudell’s column never mentions the “Smart Growth” petition. Operating like other identity thieves, the “Smart Growth” minions always remain covert.

The “Smart Growth” petition allows voters to vote only on an approved growth plan change if 10 percent of the voters physically go to the Supervisor of Elections Office in their county and sign a petition. The reality is that active duty military deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan won’t be able to get to the only place where they can sign the petition.

Mr. Trudell states: “Most military voters do not care about signing petitions for land-use changes.” Is he kidding? I know that most men and women in uniform do care to have a say about such potentially drastic changes to their communities; it’s one of the reasons they serve. This is especially true for citizen-soldiers serving in the reserves and National Guard who have been called to active duty.

Mr. Trudell also makes a big deal about St. Pete Beach, where the citizens amended their charter to allow voting on some comprehensive plan changes. It is true that there’s ongoing litigation over whether the ballot language is misleading. Mr. Trudell says Hometown Democracy filed the suit. That is simply false.

Another purely speculative statement made in his column is that, “Litigation will inevitably delay the printing and mailing of absentee ballots.” Well, that’s a real stretch, but I guess anything, including the tooth fairy, is possible.

Mr. Trudell goes on to blame Florida Hometown Democracy for St. Pete Beach’s bad economy. Come on, “spin” can go only so far. By now, most adults understand that Florida’s entire economy has been wrecked by overdevelopment, and it can’t be fixed by more of the same that got us into this mess.

The Chamber lackeys will say and do just about anything to defeat Hometown Democracy. They figure that if their lie gets told enough times people will be absolutely confused and begin to think it’s the truth. Just like the Swift-boating campaign of 2004, watch for a tidal wave of misinformation about Hometown Democracy that is just starting and will bombard us as we approach the 2010 election. Most Americans now recognize and despise such nasty and certainly unethical tactics. But now you’ve been warned what to watch for.

Carlson, a Florida native and resident of New Smyrna Beach, spent 26 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a sergeant-major.

Anonymous said...

From Miami Herald's Naked Politics Blog - May 13th:

Crist's dominance increases pressure on Gelber and Rubio to shift races

Sources close to Sen. Dan Gelber say the Miami Democrat is seriously considering shifting races and running for attorney general, leaving the Democratic slot in the U.S. Senate race to Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek.

Gelber, who would only say that he is "not closing any doors,'' announced his candidacy in January, after Meek had entered the race and before Republican Marco Rubio started quietly forming a campaign committee to raise cash,

In anticipation of Gov. Charlie Crist's plunge into the race on Tuesday, members of the Democratic National Senatorial Committee have been quietly urging Gelber to clear the primary field and have been urging the former senior counselor to two U.S. attorneys to switch the AG race. No decision has been made, Gelber said.

Anonymous said...

Let's see whether Crist vetoes pro-sprawl Senate Bill 360 after House republicans passed this attack on growth management this session. Hopefully - he'll veto and GOP will FINALLY get the message that they are not on the same page as the public re: sprawl costs