Ward's Hot Bulletin Board 

Written by Ward Scott — The Ward Scott Files


Rather than explain why 265 votes separated those for and against the Alachua County Growth Management Area charter amendment, The Sun’s Nov. 22 editorial proclaims the “election led to misinformation being spread by the losing side.”

Citizens did not vote against the amendment because the language was unclear, nor did those citizens spread misinformation. Nor is the issue about urban sprawl.

The issue is representation. Why should the opinions of 47 duly elected city commissioners about how their respective municipalities want to grow be overridden by five county commissioners who don’t necessarily even live in those municipalities? This charter amendment renders each municipality’s specifically elected officials powerless.

The question is particularly ironic when juxtaposed against The Sun’s Nov. 22 article with the headline, “Gainesville apartment boom may be overbuilt.” What group of Gainesville City Commission geniuses opened the door for that?

Finally, to add insult to injury, once again we have a situation where the county uses taxpayer money to set up a surrogate Charter Review Committee, complete with its own attorney, and conceived and born by Gainesville-centric representatives who couldn’t care less about rural interests. Repeatedly and condescendingly the charter review commissions have rejected single-member districts proposals, a rural initiative, while fast tracking this growth amendment, an urban initiative.

And to fight the county initiatives, the citizens have had to spend their own money in an attempt to inform the public about what’s at stake. So, in effect, the citizens have to dig into their pockets twice.

First, the county uses taxpayer money to fight the taxpayers, and then the taxpayers have to dig into their own pockets with their personal money to fight back. Only $35,000 of a projected $75,000 citizen budget was raised to educate the public about the charter amendment.


It is not a foregone conclusion that the lawsuit will prevail in support of no. It is likely, however, that the effort to defeat the amendment would have succeeded outright had there been more effective leadership as well as more money early to better inform the public.

But can it be that citizens are weary of having to reach into their own pockets again and again in an effort to make their voices heard?

Ward Scott is a Santa Fe College professor emeritus and host of The Ward Scott Files Podcast.