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Part 2: As you know, Mr. Poe

OPINION

BY DEBBIE MARTINEZ / DECEMBER 5, 2019

This was presented orally at the December 5 City Commission Meeting.

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As you may know, Mr. Poe, at the last City Commission meeting, I addressed this City Commission on behalf of a public that is sick and tired of your misgovernance or malfeasance.  

I pick up where I left off two weeks ago, before you and your bearded confederates impose your latest scheme to limit accountability by public access to information and city government. Who knows what penalties you may impose, now that you have militarized City Hall with armed private security guards whose company you have paid and will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars? Who knows how many more retired senior citizens in their sixties, seventies, and eighties you will cause to be physically expelled from City Hall on penalty of being thrown in jail if they return to recite facts and express opinions you don’t want recited or expressed?

As you know, Mr. Poe, in the dozen years since you were first elected to this City Commission, self-importance and a sense of entitlement on your side of the dais have grown and grown, and civility as a result has declined. 

As you know, Mr. Poe, or as you should know, the people of Gainesville are not stupid. They know when they are being bamboozled. They don’t like it. And they will not be silenced.  You are not a czar or an emperor, though you seem to imagine yourself to be.

As you know,  Mr. Poe, or as you should know, you have fooled very few with the unconscionable GRU rate hikes that you and your confederates have imposed and claimed are typical of all utilities.  

As you know,  Mr. Poe, the ten percent fuel adjustment charge increase you championed without a public vote in May is not typical. What other municipal utility in Florida has done that, except for GRU? Yes, we know, Mr. Poe, you did not say that your fuel adjustment rate hike of more than 500 percent of the consumer price index rise was typical of a utility. Did you mean it is typical of this commission over the 12 years since you were first elected to it? Clever.

As you should know, Mr. Poe, the people of Gainesville are not fools. When you tell the people that the cost of incinerating trees in the biomass burner (which you championed the City buying) continues to fall, fall, fall — and when the people know that natural gas prices are on average lower this year than last year — after twelve years of hearing such narratives from you, do you think the people don’t understand how typical of a self-deluded, self-imagined emperor you have become?

As you should know, Mr. Poe, when you tell the people that the additional electric base rate increases and additional electric customer charge increases you championed — rate hikes also hundreds of percentage points higher than the consumer price index increase — are not out of the ordinary, people do not believe you.

As you should know, Mr. Poe, when you tell the people that the 16 percent property tax hikes you championed are what is to be expected because so much property is off the tax rolls, they don’t believe you. They know how much more property tax the city is collecting just because of increased construction and valuations. They don’t believe you.

As you should know, Mr. Poe, when you tell the people that the 32 percent increase in Fire Assessment Fees you championed are what they should expect, they don’t believe you. The people who know that only a small percentage of that huge fee increase is going to the fire department really, really don’t believe you.

There is more to come, Mr. Poe. Much much much more.  But not wanting to become another of the senior citizens you expel from City Hall because you do not like the facts they share, the solutions they offer, the questions they ask, I will sit down for now. 

But you should know, Mr. Poe, the people will not be silenced by a tyrant and his confederates.

As a self-proclaimed history professor, Mr. Poe, you should know this famous quote attributed to the great Abraham Lincoln — a leader who was everything you are not:

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

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