Ward Scott: Charter Review Commission was Gainesville-centric
BY WARD SCOTT
Editor’s note: This opinion piece was originally written in January of 2020, as the 2020 Charter Review Commission was beginning their term. That commission voted just two weeks later to remove the single-member district proposal from further consideration. Given the current interest in single-member districts and the Charter Review Commission, Ward Scott submitted his article to us this week for publication.
In a Sun article published Jan. 4, Alachua County Charter Review Commission Vice Chairman Joe Little said the group can almost always count on hearing many suggestions from residents arguing for the County to switch from at-large elected commissioners to single-member districts.
Do the applicants and those accepted to the Charter Review Commission suggest why?
Of the 33 Alachua County residents who put their names in the hat, 24 listed Gainesville as their residences. Three claimed Newberry, one each High Springs, the city of Alachua, Micanopy, Waldo, and curiously one from Williston. Another, in a sketchy application, listed only a post office box, no city.
You guessed it: Of the 12 selected, nine identify with Gainesville, the other three with the City of Alachua, Micanopy, and one the mysterious post office box.
You might say, so what?
While not rising to the level of a Charter Review proposal, an example of a basic difference between the rural and the urban helps elucidate the divide.
The Alachua County Commission meetings are broadcast on cable. But until reminded by rural residents that cable was essentially unavailable in rural areas of the county, rural residents couldn’t watch their own commission in action.
Even though the County thought they fixed the problem by streaming the commission meetings on the internet, a significant number of rural residents are served solely by satellite television because cable is largely unavailable in the countryside. This disparity had not occurred to the commission.
Do more representative membership models already exist on other County advisory committees?
The Alachua County website listed 17 advisory boards in January 2020. The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, for example, solicits applicants from various occupations: banking, low-income, and home-building representatives, to name a few.
Wild Spaces and Public Spaces requires a representative from the incorporated cities, the city of Gainesville, and the county.
And the Rural Concerns Committee categorizes applicants in several different categories:
• Two residents from the unincorporated area outside urban clusters designated in the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan
• A Farm Bureau Member, an IFAS representative
• Two at-large members
• Three active in agriculture or silviculture
• And one from the Agricultural Extension Office
According to the Florida Association of Counties website, 20 Florida counties have charters. Not all have review commissions that meet every 10 years. Some meet more frequently.
Some stipulate a diversity of demographics in their criteria for participation. Therefore, without belaboring the point, the Alachua County Charter Review Commission could be set up so that the membership would not be Gainesville-centric.
Or the Alachua County Commission could place the proposal on the ballot themselves.
Or the citizens could use the citizen initiative process, a difficult and time-consuming task.
But the intended method for the public to make the proposal is to the Charter Review Commission. However, the Charter Review Commission would have to agree in a majority decision to order the Alachua County Commission to place the issue on the ballot so the people could decide.
And, if passed, the change in membership wouldn’t take effect for 10 years.
The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com.
Facts from The Real Research Team
The application to be a Charter Review Commission member asks these three questions:
1. Are you a resident of Alachua County?
2. Are you a registered voter of Alachua County?
3. Are you a member of the State Legislature or the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners?
Answer Yes, Yes, and No and you are 100% qualified to be on the CRC. Where you live in the county is not a consideration. You are a county resident. It is a county wide committee.
The application asks for a MAILING address for notification purposes. Please pay attention, my studunce Wierd Sortt, I gotta try to ‘splain the postal system to you.
There are 13 named US Post Office towns in Alachua County. There is NOT one named “Unincorporated Rural Alachua County.” Every rural resident has a MAILING address of a CITY. Even a rural dweller with a Rural Route mail delivery has a CITY in the name of their address. It does not mean you live or vote in that city. Your slam of “they ‘identify’ with Gainesville” is bull dung. The Post Office declares mail delivery districts. It has nothing to do with a person’s residence in or out of city limits, or voting district.
You seem bent out of shape that most CRC members have a Gainesville mailing address. Well, per the 2010 census 52% of the county residents live within the city limits of Gainesville(not counting the extensive westward spreading urban fringe). Boom if CRC membership is proportional at least 6 of the 12 members will live within Gainesville.
There are nine incorporated cities in Alachua County. About 85% of the county residents live within one of them. Only about 15% of the county’s residents live in the rural unincorporated area of the county. I know you are promoting the fallacy that all towns smaller than Big Evil Gainesville are small and rural. Newberry ls larger than Gainesville. Alachua has more land zoned Industrial than Gainesville. These “small towns” are hell bent on rapid industrial and corporate park and residential growth. They want to be unrural and unsmall as fast as possible.
For this argument let us divide the county into “Gainesville” and “Other.” Gainesville urban area has about 75% of the population, The Other has 25%. Since you pretend to love diversity and incluuuuuuusion(sic), you want the 2020 CRC membership to reflect this. In your perfect world of diversity, Gainesville should have 6 members, the Jonesville urban fringe 3 members, and the small cities/rural areas 3 members. A 9 to 3 split.
One 2020 CRC member was from Micanopy. One was from Alachua. After one resignation, his replacement was from High Springs. One member, Scott Camille, has a Gainesville MAILING address but lives way out in the unincorporated county in a rural homestead. Are you paying attention my studunce? We are up to four.
Then you have selective memory, or early onset Alzheimer’s, when it suits you to skew the facts. You also claim to have a crack research team, but they must be on crack because they SUCK.
One CRC member forgot to put a city on her mailing address on her application and you perpetuate the Republican Big Lie about it. “Another, in a sketchy application, listed only a post office box, no city.” You are an effing liar and nothing sketchy about that.
The CRC member is Tamara Robbins of Alachua. You know her. She has lived in the same house for 25 years. You mean your cracked research team cannot look her up on the property appraiser’s website? Gawd they suck. She has listed the same voting residence for 25 years. You mean your cracked research team cannot look her up at the Supervisor of Elections office? Gawd they suck. Does not say much for your research(sic) team’s ability to look up your “claimed” finds of massive voter fraud.
Under “qualifications” she lists “elected to Alachua City Commission 2001-2004”. You forgot that? You know her. Hint she appointed YOUR functionally illiterate student Clovis Watson to be city manager. You want sketchy voter fraud? Look this up. Alachua city charter requires city managers to live in the city limits. Clovis Watson ‘claimed’ to live where he did not: in the garage of a house in Turkey Creek within the Alachua city limits. Why don’t you look up that residence address fraud and report back to us who helped Watson commit voter residence fraud, Mr. Scott? When can we expect a full report?
So Micanopy, High Springs, Alachua, Alachua, Unincorporated = FIVE non Gainesville CRC members, or at least 42% from “non Gainesville. If anything, the rural areas were OVERREPRESENTED population percentage wise. For you math challenged folks, 42% is larger than 25%. So shut your pie hole. Republican whine is so sour.
You want voter fraud to investigate? Look up your buddy Little Timmy Marden. His legal address is HIGH SPRINGS. Yet he votes and is a city commissioner in NEWBERRY. HOW CAN THAT BE? Why is your cracked research team not all over this apparent FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD? My studunce, you are a hypocrite. And a dunce. And your research team really sucks.