Honor Democracy this Memorial Day
May 30, 2010
This Memorial Day, we pause to thank our military, who defend our great country. I'll be remembering my father, a career Navy pilot, away at sea for long stretches of my childhood.
Our men and women in uniform, and their families, make great sacrifices for the rest of us.
Thanks to them, our democracy has survived for two centuries, and we have real freedom and the power of a vote that matters.
Thanks to them, the United States is still "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Thomas Jefferson described the foundation of our country's political system when he said: "The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object is to keep that right ... cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention."
You may be surprised that some of Florida's most powerful players are spending millions of dollars trying to deny we the people our right to vote. They don't want us to have the right to vote on certain local decisions that often determine the fate of our communities for generations to come. It boils down to this: They don't want us to have the right to vote on whether our community's overall plan for growth should be changed to accommodate even more development.
The very people who crashed Florida's economy with speculation, flipping and overbuilding have spent $6 million to try to defeat Florida Hometown Democracy, on the ballot this November as Amendment 4. They raised $1.4 million in January alone. Our opponents have hired high-priced spinners to spread lies and scare you into voting against Amendment 4.
Why are the big money players and the politicians who serve them so scared of voters? Florida Hometown Democracy's Amendment 4 is a grassroots, nonpartisan citizen's petition drive that will simply give ordinary Floridians the chance to vote when a local commission wants to change their community's overall land use plan (called a comprehensive plan). When a real estate speculator doesn't want to play by the rules and insists on changing the plan, and the local officials roll over and approve the requested change (like they seemingly always do), voters will have the final say over whether the change should happen. New construction that goes where it's already designated in the plan requires no vote. That's it.
The citizen's vote isn't some new substitute for the regular approval process we have in Florida now - it's just an add-on at the end. Here's how it works: Under Amendment 4, local city or county commissions will study, hold public hearings and vote on proposed changes to the comprehensive land-use plan just like they do now. If they give someone the go-ahead to build outside the plan, voters will get the chance to veto or approve their decision on the next regularly scheduled Election Day.
Citizens deserve a seat at the table. We're the ones who pay our tax dollars to extend police protection, fire service, water, sewer, schools and roads to these new developments. Is a new development worth it? We should get a vote before we're forced to pay.
As we know all too well, Big Money funnels campaign cash to politicians to rubberstamp whatever they want. Do you really want to continue to allow politicians to have absolute control over our communities? All you need to do is check your tax bill and get into your car and drive around Florida for your answer. The evidence of the politicians' gross mismanagement of Florida is there for all to see. Voters need a seat at the table. Amendment 4 will give us common-sense oversight on this "pay-to-play" politics.
Voter control is the only way to change the status quo. If you believe in the power of your vote, please join our nonpartisan, grassroots citizen's movement to pass Amendment 4 on Election Day, Nov. 2. You can learn more at www.floridahometowndemocracy.com. We need to stand up together for our democratic way of life - our votes - and honor those who sacrificed to protect it.
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