Yesterday two of us made the trek to Tallahassee to present our concerns about legislation being considered, legislation which would seriously degrade the ability of the people to participate in the process of land development. Land development in Florida is a huge issue as Governor Scott and the Republican majority seeks to make it simple for developers to expand their reach, including parcels of property that are clearly not suitable for high density development. Being a resident of a rural area being impacted by these plans, we thought it important to be there, even if it did mean getting up at O-Dark-Thirty and making the one hundred sixty mile trip to do so.
This was our second trip, the first being two weeks ago before a State Senate committee. This time it was to attend a House hearing and the difference in tone and posture was significantly noted. One of the problems is that the amendment process goes on until the night before the meeting and it is very difficult for a regular citizen to do the last minute research that large corporations and developers can do with their lobbyist support. In the case of the last trip, the committee was very open to our plight and paid rapt attention and while I know we face an uphill battle we did get good engagement, including comments from our State Senator that he would look into this in depth.
Yesterday was entirely different. The committee sits at a table with half having the podium at their back and in this particular case the committee showed little if any interest in what was being said, even cutting my associate off in mid sentence by claiming his time was up. This despite the fact that a previous speaker, one more supportive of his views went significantly overtime with his time but, of course, he was a lobbyist and lobbyists and lawyers "rule the roost" in Tallahassee and other state capitols as well. And we won't even bring up the subject of Washington, since the concern for the "average Joe" has long since passed.
I guess this was just a good example of why most say that the Senate is the deliberator while the House is a place of organized chaos and fast action. I've seen this in Washington and in this case they were just true to that form.
So why do I bring this up? I'm not naive and I know that most elected officials have pre-conceived notions on everything and they often have nothing to do with their constituents, but instead the lobbyists and special interests. So here's the reason. We Americans get what we deserve. If we don't engage and speak up, things will always continue as they are and as we dumb down our kids it will only get worse. It's important that citizens realize that what these elected officials do, be it at the local, state and federal levels has dramatic impact on our lives. For as the separation of the people from their elected leaders gets broader, power is assumed by them because they know they can just use it and we pay the price. Quality of life goes down, concern about constituents goes down, but the cost that we bear continues to go up.
Our local concern about what is happening to rural life is one that involves every state in the Union. And, of course, development will always happen as a nation continues to grow, but it doesn't have to be done in a way that destroys all of our natural beauty and our God-given resources, especially water. When the water is gone, it's gone and the grand schemes of land developers will leave an ugly scar in its wake, like the many vacant and boarded up shopping centers, office parks and strip centers that blight the land.
Sunday, my radio show on Conservative Report Radio, North Florida Writer Talks, will focus on what is happening here in Florida and where it might lead. I will have two guests, both typical middle class citizens who will share their personal experience with what is happening. Our plight is just a case study that probably is not dissimilar to other areas and I think we all can learn from it. Go to conservativereport.org and follow the link at the top menu (Conservative Report Radio) or you can call in at 914-338-1776. The show starts at 3pm Eastern.
Now go have a wonderful day and help us keep America beautiful. God bless you all.