Letter: County Charter Review Commission places 4 amendments on November ballot

The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com.

On September 10, 2019, the Alachua County Commission appointed the 2019-20 Charter Review Commission (CRC). In the subsequent 9 months, the CRC held 16 meetings and 3 public hearings. Public outreach resulted in numerous published media reports, and on the CRC website, the online form received 80 submittals–more than any previous CRC. 

After significant public debate and discussion, the County CRC voted to place 4 charter amendment proposals before voters on the November 3rd ballot. The County Charter requires that the County Commission hold a public hearing on CRC-transmitted proposals before voting to place them (as adopted by the CRC) on the ballot. These ballot proposals, a link to the County Charter, and other documents are available on the CRC website: http://ac2020crc.us/

Once voters approve language for the County Charter, only the voters–at a subsequent General Election–can vote to remove it. The 4 CRC-approved ballot items for voters to consider November 3rd are:

County Growth Management Area – This amendment would establish a “County Growth Management Area”. On land within the Area, the County’s comprehensive plan and land development regulations would exclusively govern land development, even if a parcel of land is later annexed into the boundaries of a city.  A map of the proposed County Growth Management Area is available here. The County Growth Management Area was designed as a compromise, providing areas outside existing city borders where cities could still exercise land use control after annexation. The amendment also allows the County Commission to remove property from the County Growth Management Area by a supermajority vote.

Affordable Housing Trust Fund – This amendment would create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, used to create and sustain affordable housing. The County Commission can fund the Trust Fund from fees on new commercial and residential development and other sources, but the charter amendment does not itself create or authorize any new taxes or fees. The Trust Fund can also accept donations of any kind. If approved by voters, the County Commission would be required to administer the fund, obtain an annual audit, and spend any funds in the Trust Fund to support affordable housing. 

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“Cleanup” Amendment Removing Unconstitutional Provisions – This amendment would remove two unconstitutional and unenforceable provisions from the County Charter. First, the amendment would remove a provision that unconstitutionally prohibits protections based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or similar characteristics. Second, the amendment removes a provision that imposes unconstitutional residency requirements for Alachua County Commission candidate qualifying. Even if this amendment is not approved, these provisions would remain unenforceable, but they would continue to clutter the County Charter.

Candidate Treasurer Reports – This amendment retains the existing requirement that candidates for county office file campaign treasurer reports electronically but removes the requirement that they also file the same campaign treasurer reports on paper. This amendment modernizes the campaign finance disclosure process in Alachua County and was suggested by the Supervisor of Elections. 

Over the next several months, CRC members will be available to speak with you and/or your organization about the County Charter amendment proposals. If you would like for one of us to attend a meeting of your organization, please email CharterReview@alachuacounty.us

2020 Alachua County Charter Review Commission 

Doug Bernal, Kali Blount, Scott Camil, James Ingle, Nick Klein, Joe Little, Pradeep Kumar, Stan Richardson, Tamara Robbins, James Thompson, Kristin Young, Penny Wheat

  • Who cares about these four amendments?
    We Springs County Trumpster Bircher Birther Republicans submitted 15 proposals for single member districts, knowing that only extreme gerrymandering might allow a conservative Republican to get elected to the Alachua County Commission to represent “our interests.” (FYI The top Republican “interests” are gerrymandering and voter suppression in order to elect more Republicans, as no one will vote Republican if we run by revealing our Platform.)
    The Charter Review Commission rejected all our single member district proposals, as even those city Democrats could recognize GOP bull manure when they saw it.
    We still bitter, so we gonna secede into Springs County and live by our glorious new county motto, “20% Sales Tax and Our Roads Still Have Potholes.” Our Freedom From Big Government experiment will be studied for years by political science students at them liberal universities in their new class “How to $#!$ Up a Florida County–A Case Study”

    • You don’t realize that it’s the county’s own policies that have led to UNAFFORDABLE housing. When the county mandates a developer has to commit so much property to it’s agenda the price of housing becomes unaffordable. Why don’t you jump on your platform and tell the city and county that the apartments being constructed should be affordable instead of being intended for the more “affluent?”
      If you’re like most with your ideals, you tend to take an “I have but you can’t” mentality.

  • I’ll say it because some won’t. If you hate it so much in the “conservative” part of the county why don’t you pack up your stuff and move? Seattle would probably be more in line with your views. You claim to be educated but you write like an idiot. Please spare us your nonsense
    You missed your calling…you could have been a voiceover in “Song of the South.”

    • Yas Massa, I bees a good little sheep and move cuz yu sez so.
      Not. Typical CONservative view “If you don’t like things, leave.” Yet you are too ignorant to follow your own advice. If you hate Alachua County so much, YOU LEAVE. Not Secede and take me along into your hayseed John Birch worshiping utopia. Leave. Gilchrist or Dixie County might suit you better. Or anywhere in Alabama or Mississippi.
      Where did I say I hate it in the “conservative” part of Alachua County? Actually, there is no such place. All five county commissioners are Democrats. I must live in the progressive open minded part of the County. You are the one who seems to have a difficult time finding a part of the county conservative enough for you and your kind. You are the one who wants so badly to leave. Bye Felicia.

      • You are capable of conveying an articulate thought with proper grammatical usage. I thought all hope was lost, thank you.

  • Economics of Springs County—A Disaster
    The area west of 34TH street contains roughly 55% of the population of Alachua County. Springs County would have roughly 135,000 residents and the remains of Alachua County would have about 115,000. Springs County would contain the high value taxable property, Alachua County would have more non taxed state owned lands, lower valued houses, and vast amounts undeveloped ag timberland.
    The 34th Street boundary would give Springs County the high value property, yet you claim there will be no property taxes in Springs County, so why do you want the high value property? Only one reason. To keep it away from Alachua County so Alachua County has no taxable property base.
    Your proposal would make Alachua County the smaller and poorer of the two counties. Alachua County would literally be in poverty and might be fiscally constrained so as to require state welfare payments for funding.
    Your goal is now clear. You are mean, hateful and as vindictive as Donald Trump. You don’t just want to create a new county, you want to punish Alachua County for years of daring to commit the crime of not electing Republicans to the County Commission.

  • Springs County Lies in Action
    “Springs County says online: the idea is not to eliminate voices of those we disagree with, the whole purpose of Springs County is to provide representation for the entire county and not just those liberal dense areas of Gainesville.”
    SC proponents are bitter, bitter, bitter (did I mention bitter?) that the Democrat Majority in Alachua County will not elect a Republican to the County Commission. They want illegal gerrymandering called single member districts to elect a Republican, but even that will not work.
    The area west of 34th Street contains roughly 135,000 people. SC proponents claim to be flag waving proponents of Democracy. In a democracy people vote and the Majority Rules. Yet somehow no more than 500 rabble rousing cult followers of Brother John Birch are demanding their own County which they will control.
    Their Fascist Republican utopia is 500 right wingnuts dominating the other 130,000 “liberal dense” residents that do NOT goosestep with them. Sounds like the government model for Springs County is more like a Communist Dictatorship than a Democracy. But wave that flag, Springs County hypocrites.

  • Now that’s a nice conversation.
    I could care less whether there is a “Springs” county or not. Many of my posts simply call out the current leadership, both city and county, of unfair practices.
    I, like many others, are tired of the obvious mismanagement of tax revenue. Tired of giving away or purchasing plots of property for selfserving agendas. Tired of the exorbitant utility rates. Tired of the doublespeak. Recently it has been happening at an accelerated pace.
    I have mentioned before about how both county and city entities talk about affordable housing but it is through their policies that homes are not affordable. Developers have to implement county and city mandated guidelines for communities which drive up the costs. If county and city leaders are concerned about affordable housing, like they say they are, why put such restrictions? If they insist on affordable housing, why not go to the developers currently building along University Avenue and demand lower cost apartments? It’s the hypocrisy that I object to.
    The two controlling entities allow UF unfettered access to obtain a lot of property. When that happens those properties fall off the tax rolls. The county and city either jointly or singularly purchase land for “green space.” Those properties come off the tax rolls. Remember the property on CR241? The property is now owned by UF and the couple gets to remain living there for free. Over $1,000,000 off the tax rolls. Who wouldn’t love that tax break? Alachua county already exceeds the state’s expected amount of green space and yet the county continues to push for more. I’m not against conservation but I am against current leadership using it falsely to hide their environmentalists’ philosophies.
    You made mention that if the creation of a “Springs” county were to succeed, Alachua county would then become poorer. Does that mean you can find reason to fault the leaders of Gainesville and Alachua county for it’s cause? If they promote, in fact, provide incentives for growth on the western side of the county but inhibit growth on the eastern side, how can that conclusion not be drawn. Are our leaders through that intent alone, contributing to the plight of black Americans who reside on the eastern side?
    Many questions that deserve thinking about. As I said, just tired of the hypocrisy.

  • How we got here is one thing, but here we are today and must start here. You can take any county and split it in two, and, depending on where you draw the line, create two equal counties, or create one wealthy county and one poor county.
    What the proponents fail to realize is that the Springs proposal does not create one new county, it creates Two. Springs and New Alachua. By picking 34th Street as the boundary, Springs gets all the wealthy neighborhoods and commercial development. New Alachua County is basically East Gainesville, with not enough tax base to operate, let alone improve the place.

    The financial analysis needs to include BOTH counties. I think New Alachua might qualify as a fiscally constrained county. The Legislature, especially Clemons and Perry, would be horribly negligent to deliberately create a new fiscally constrained county of New Alachua, requiring welfare subsidies from the rest of the counties of Florida. Would the Legislature be so stupid as to do this? I hope not.

    • Agreed, it would be two separate counties. What should be addressed is that since we are “here,” how do we get “there?” My argument is that it is not possible with the current local leadership. They have failed the community as a whole but especially the eastern side of Alachua county in ways that I have previously mentioned. They continue to cause economic distress, both at a city and county level, by their policies. High utility rates, high taxes have done nothing for the taxpayers. They have done a great job for the homeless with their giveaways. They only pretend to care about the residents and it is quite evident in current pet projects.
      If they were in such support of the Black American community why doesn’t the local leadership put a moratorium on all healthcare facilities on the “wealthy” side of the county until there is something on the “poor” side of the county? There aren’t many commissioners screaming for that. The two minority city commissioners have failed their own constituents. Matter of fact, more commissioners are wanting to “defund” the police than there are for insisting in some type of economic development in the east. If you can’t see that I’m sorry. I don’t know any other way to explain it.
      Which brings us full circle….the economic disparity is a direct result of local leadership. We know where we are, now let’s get to where we want to be. My opinion, current leadership is either incapable or unwilling to get us there.

      • Make up your mind what kind of government you want.

        Springs County is proposed to be organized under the Small Limited Government model. Business is King. Unfettered Free Market Robber Baron Capitalism is proposed. This is why the Koches fund the John Birch Society, to promote “small” governments with no EPA departments where Koch Industries can slash and burn and pollute and max profits with no interference from pesky government regulations.

        You said: “why doesn’t the local leadership put a moratorium on all healthcare facilities on the “wealthy” side of the county until there is something on the “poor” side of the county?”

        If a government wants to put a government paid for and government run facility in East Gainesville as some sort of social engineering, it is allowed to. But when you want the government to tell private for profit corporations (healthcare or otherwise) where to locate, you will not be welcome in Springs County, Comrade. Birchers hate Communists and you are advocating for Big Government Central Planning the whole society.

        Read all the articles gyrating to show how masks are Bad, because some libertarians Hate that Communist Hutch Hutchinson for telling people to wear a mask. You are advocating telling hospitals where to build, a lot worse Commie plot than a face mask.

        In Free Springs County hospitals can build wherever they want. Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

        • You really don’t have much in the way of reading comprehension do you? I said I hate the hypocrisy in local leadership. I pointed out iYOUR poor and wealthy comparisons because you brought it up. You also don’t understand that it is the party you follow that wants more government. Why does the east side have to have a government run facility? Stop skirting around the questions and give your reason for NO healthcare on the eastern side of the county.
          Maybe you’ll get your wish…maybe there will be a Springs County. Don’t know, don’t care . I still think it would be a god idea for you to get out and meet some of the community you continue to speak poorly of, you never know when you may need their assistance. You might even learn a little more of the history you obviously know so little about.

          • Quote “Stop skirting around the questions and give your reason for NO healthcare on the eastern side of the county.”
            I am not a commissioner responsible with providing community health care.
            I am not an official in the health care industry.
            I am not responsible for splaining health care distribution to you. I can explain lots of things to you, but I cannot understand it for you.
            That said, do I believe all persons should have equal access to health care regardless of where they live? Yes.
            Since the AC Health Dept. HQ is east of Waldo Road, there is health care on the eastern side of the county. There goes your “NO”. I’ll assume being wrong is your hobby, so enjoy yourself.
            You appear to have insider information. Please inform us how the glorious John Birch Conservative Utopia of Springs County will make sure there is a hospital and a Taco Bell within five miles of all citizens, unlike liberal Alachua County.

          • For OW Douglas…you have in your own subtle way explained why there is a lack of healthcare on the eastern side of the county. Although the health department can be classified as a healthcare facility I don’t think I would call it “equal.” So I stand corrected.
            That being said, one on the east side, really 5 if you factor in the fire rescue stations. Compare that west of 34th…3 traveling west on 39th, 2 on 8th before Newberry Rd., Newberry Rd west of 34th, 3 I can think of and that doesn’t include dozens of medical practices, almost forgot, 1 on 43rd & 53rd. That does not include any fire rescue stations. Quite the “equal access to healthcare” wouldn’t you agree?
            Since you once again have called out the commissions and they obviously have the needs of the community first. Try explaining this, if they stand on their pedestals and declare black lives matter, does their lack of promoting healthcare facilities on the east side of the county mean that healthcare for blacks does not? Like I have said in the past, it’s their hypocrisy that I do not like.
            One day when you’re all growed up, you too will be able to admit when you are wrong. Until then, let the left keep you and others like mushrooms…in the dark and feeding you CaCa.

  • Don’t like the way your government manages tax money spending?
    Instead of seceding, run for office, win, run it your way.
    Running for local office 2020:
    Alachua County Commission
    Seat 1
    Alford DEM
    Byerly DEM
    Eagle-Glenn REP
    Kaufman NOP
    Seat 3
    Glanzer REP
    Prizzia DEM
    Stanford DEM
    Thorpe DEM
    Seat 5
    Chestnut DEM
    Irby DEM
    Brinkman NOP
    Darnell DEM
    Watson DEM
    Property Appraiser
    Foerst NOP
    Geiger DEM
    McQuillen DEM
    Sapp DEM
    Solomon DEM
    Suggs DEM
    Tax Collector
    Power DEM
    Sup Elections
    Barton DEM
    Eight Offices. Republicans running for TWO.
    Do Not Bytch about “No Representation” if you do not even run.
    But you Republican hypocrites will anyway. Sad.

    • And you digress…
      It is nice how you point out other things that are evident in today’s political spectrum. I think Nancy Pelosi said it best when Ocasio-Cortez won the district in New York. “A glass of water could take districts like mine and Cortez’s.”
      Much the same in Gainesville and Alachua county. Even if you leave a bowl of food on your doorstep you’re bound to feed a lot of stray cats.

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