Hometown Democracy Amendment is a Bad Idea

Michael Hussy at Pushing Rope wrote a post today about Hometown Democracy’s efforts to get on the 2010 ballot. He referred back to one of my earlier posts on the subject, asking for “evidence” of claims that the amendment would hurt Florida’s economy.

Admittedly, I do not have evidence, but let me illustrate a different point — another reason why I think it’s a bad idea.

Michael writes, “The problem with current reviews of growth management and land use is that politicians make the final decisions. ” Okay, fair enough. Our elected representatives do have the final authority on growth management issues. But, isn’t that why we elect them in the first place?

Hometown Democracy is not about setting broad policies — the kinds of issues with which voters SHOULD be entrusted. Economic incentives (tax credits) or disincentives (impact fees). Urban service boundaries. I can see some of these broader issues going to the voters…

But no, the Hometown Democracy amendment would require the voters too approve any change to the comprehensive plan, no matter how small or localized. Would voters in Sun City Center care whether a new overlay district was adopted for Keystone? Should voters in Hyde Park have to approve changing a Durant subdivision from 1.5 houses per acre to 1 house per acre? Can we expect voters in Temple Terrace to be fully informed about extending the urban service boundary around two parcels in Lutz?

Okay, so Florida Hometown Democracy wants to make elections harder by requiring voters to approve every single comp plan amendment. If you’re still here and agreeing with FHD (and Pushing Rope), then let me make two other points.

One, if you (dear reader) are among those who feel politicians are beholden to special interest groups — what would happen in the elections to approve changes? The special interest groups (developers, realtors, business, etc) who are seeking the comp plan change would simply wield their influence by campaigning for their measures. Moreover, any group that opposes a comp plan change would be highly localized to the area proposed for change.

Now, you have a group of uninformed voters being asked to vote on issues that generally don’t affect them. You have special interest groups supporting the changes, and no meaningful (county-wide) groups opposing the changes. Is that somehow better than having elected representatives cast a decision?

Edmund Burke, 18th century member of the British parliament, said: Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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One Response to Hometown Democracy Amendment is a Bad Idea

  1. Vinny Tafuro says:

    Very well put Jim.

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