Mayor Poe and County Commission Chair Hutchinson send letter to Governor DeSantis


Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and Alachua County Commission Chair sent a letter on Friday to Governor Ron DeSantis. Here is the text of the letter, as posted on Facebook by Poe:

The Honorable Governor Ron DeSantis
Office of Governor Ron DeSantis
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

September 25, 2020

Dear Governor:

On behalf of our neighbors in the City of Gainesville and Alachua County, I resolutely urge you to reconsider the extent of your executive action announced today regarding the Phase 3 re-opening in Florida. Of particular concern is how local governments would be impacted with enforcing local fines and penalties related to those who do not comply with protecting our neighbors’ health.  Since the start of the pandemic, we have only issued a dozen fines on individual violators over a six month period. We attribute a less severe caseload of positive tests and deaths to these types of pro-active efforts where reasonable enforcement has been allowed.

Just a few weeks ago, colleges and universities like the University of Florida opened amid the pandemic.  We have since seen a significant increase in cases, including our highest single-day positivity rate ever and the highest 14 day average since the pandemic began. We continue to steadfastly work with our University partners to address prevention of spread.  Part of this effort involves our new initiative allowing restaurants and bars to have extended outdoor seating in conjunction with Florida Department of Transportation’s approval.  This endeavor will help dozens of local businesses economically while also maintaining social distancing and health standards that are vital in defeating the spread of COVID19.  

In order for our efforts to remain successful, we need to maintain the ability to enforce norms and standards suitable to a university community as recommended by our medical experts at the University of Florida and UF Health.  We have been working closely with our Health Department, University Leadership and our neighbors to find the best fit that works to both protect public health and allow our economy to thrive.  

As a local leader, what concerns us the most is that the momentum we have gained due to our local efforts over the past six months would be potentially lost in how we have successfully limited the pandemic from what could have produced far worse outcomes.  The new executive action seems to place more burden on an already overburdened local community, against effective efforts in rightly applying our police powers meant to protect public health.  

As we had mentioned in a previous letter to you dated May 21, we not only want Florida to survive but also to thrive. For this to happen our efforts must not only begin, but also must be sustained at the local level.  In this spirit, we wholeheartedly beseech you to adjust your executive action and allow more flexibility in the continuance of local control, especially within university towns that have clearly become the newest epicenters for COVID-19 outbreaks.


Lauren Poe
Mayor, City of Gainesville

Robert Hutchinson
Chair, Alachua County Board of Commissioners

  • “I strenuously object.”
    “I object. ”
    “No, no. I strenuously object.”
    “Oh, you strenuously object. Then I’ll take some time to reconsider.”
    – from “A Few Good Men”

    Too bad we don’t have any “good men or women” leading the city or county.

    “On behalf of our neighbors in the City of Gainesville and Alachua County…” REALLY?! They never asked my opinion and when I try to give it they hang up the phone.
    They do not represent anyone but their own self-centered, selfish selves and the left wingnuts who put them in office. They continue to turn deaf ears to the outlying communities who tend to be more conservative.

    Hope Governor DeSantis gives this letter as much consideration as our local “representatives” give to the more conservative members of the community.

    • It’s unfortunate that you need to refer to people who have a different opinion than you as left wingnuts. To be clear, I like the Governor’s decision, but calling decent people names makes your point of view less credible and offers no room for bringing people together.

      • I agree that calling decent people names does cause one to lose some credibility, but the commenter was referring to Poe and Hutch, so the case for decent people doesn’t apply here.

      • I am glad that you like the Governor’s opinion and also apologize if I inadvertently offended you. However, having viewed many of their meetings and read many of their writings/orders I am fairly confident of describing these two as wingnuts…could have referred to them as nut jobs with the same degree of confidence. Too bad the entire body of the two commissions didn’t sign the letter as well, then I could have described them all at one time.
        I can honestly say that I do not know them personally, from what I’ve seen – don’t care to. Perhaps they aren’t the people I think they are. I just find them to be misguided. In support of my statement, some claim to know more about a bat’s diet than a bat expert, rocks and rivers deserve the same rights as we do, people who have purchased homes/land don’t really have “ownership,”…the list could go on and on. Almost forgot to mention the latest and greatest – if we want to have a gathering of more than 10 people, you better register.
        My suggestion, don’t let our “leaders” hear you be supportive of the Governor, they may have someone visit you in the middle of the night. Far more likely they will just raise your taxes and utility rates.

  • Or, to paraphrase, “You’re too ignorant and immoral to interfere with our power to threaten and fine our already tax-overburdened population. Obviously we know better how they should live their lives than they do.”

  • The elected officials do not have the right to speak on my behalf. Nor has my opinion been asked for in order to write a letter like this.

  • Many of our local officials need to remember that many of our nationwide news sources show many advertisements from pharmaceutical companies. Some companies even go so far as to train the science and health writers for the news sources. Their business interest is in playing up the pandemic in order to induce demand and taxpayer subsidies for their products, not necessarily concern about health and safety concerns caused by containment measures.

    This study shows how pharmaceutical interests played up the 2009 H1N1 “Swine Flu,


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