McIntosh Mirror: Reflecting news in the Tosh

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Light-up McIntosh December 15

Light-up McIntosh will begin at the Civic Center at 6:30 p.m. The event will host Santa Clause and an area choir from six local churches will sing.

06.25.06 -- EDITORIAL: Why July 11 is a very, very important day

WHAT: A public vote for McIntosh Residents on an amendment to the McIntosh Charter that would BAN expansion of the historic district -- a charter law that can not be repealed by any future council.
WHO: Amendment was written by Charlsie Stott, petitions were circulated by Stott, Howard Walkup and Jim Walkup


McINTOSH -- Due to a family obligation, I was late to last Thurday's meeting and missed most of the argument when the town council passed the new historic board ordinance. I got there in time to see the council pass the new laws and watch people walk out of the meeting in disgust. I got there in time to hear people call out to the council, "You don't listen to us." I got there in time to see a lot of pissed off people.

I haven't read the new ordinance. I hear it's a tome, literally. One of the things grossly wrong with this town is how it doesn't communicate with its residents. Changes like these should be posted online and a great deal more discussion should go into them than an agenda posted in a shadow box outside the town hall and a bunch of legalese running in a local paper. It scares me stupid for the people living in the historic district that this ordinance was passed so quickly. It's even scarier given the nature of laws that weren't passed last Thursday. But we'll get around to discussing that...

After reading some of the other local laws presented, I've come to understand this council is more interested in checking off their to-do list, than in shaping responsible laws. Gary Greenberg had a very good point when he stood up in that meeting and scolded the council for passing the historic ordinance as it was written.

There would have been nothing wrong with sending that ordinance back to the committee for rewrite. In fact, it would have been the right thing to do.

But that's not the point of this editorial. The point of this editorial is that McIntosh residents need to get out on July 11 and voice their opinion about the historic district. It's even more important now because the historic ordinances have become more strict.

July 11 is the date for a vote to add an amendment to the town charter that would ban expansion into McIntosh's historic district. What does this mean? It means, by voting YES, you would be adding a law to the town charter -- think of it as a constitution -- that would prohibit the town from including your home in the historic district unless you specifically wanted to be included. This means, if the historic board doesn't already tell you what kind of roof and the color of paint you can use, they wouldn't be able to in the future unless you wanted them to have that power.

The existing historic district is as it is. It's not going to change. But people who live on the west side and down in Robert's Acres and in Sportsman's Cove and around the perimeter can put a stop to further expansion. I understand the new ordinances passed last Thursday allow for expansion of the historic district. I first heard this when a committee member mentioned it on the first reading. (Let me point out that the council passed this ordinance without reading it on the first reading at the protest of Mayor Marsha Strange. See previous post from the May council meeting.)

By allowing for expansion of the district in this ordinance, the council has proven themselves liars. I watched in February and March meetings as some council members said over and over that they don't want to expand the historic district. Clearly, if a new ordinance includes method for expansion, this contradicts their previous protests.

In theory, I happen to agree with arguments made in the past by council members -- yes even Joe Phillips -- that limiting the power of a municipal government is dangerous. But in practice, I think the tendency in McIntosh toward irresponsible governing by laypeople is even more dangerous due to abuse of power. When I talked to Marion County Commissioner Charlie Stone in February, he said that one of the problems with CRA boards are that they tend to garner too much power the longer they exist. [EDITED see below]

I think this was one of the main reasons that a CRA would fail in McIntosh: McIntosh is not ready for it because it's citizen boards don't know how to handle a little bit of power. This is evident in the historic board and in the code enforcement board. I can't even begin to unravel how screwed up the LPA must be if they drafted that basically unconstitutional ordinance that allowed for an officer to demand entry into homes.

So get out and vote July 11. People walked out of that meeting the other night saying the council didn't listen to its constituents. There are ways to make them listen and this is one of them.

[Clarification: This editorial is my opinion based on reporting and observation. I referenced a conversation I had during a CRA meeting with Commissioner Charlie Stone about CRA boards because it helped me understand their limitations. I have corrected the formatting so it is clear where Stone's direct comment ended and my editorial opinion began. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.]

posted by Cher @ 9:32 AM,


At   June 26, 2006 12:14 PM     ,    Blogger Bob Renaud    said...

Cher, please keep up the great work for us. We have needed a voice. I applaude you for your time and efforts. Bob Renaud


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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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