Tuesday, October 19, 2010


If I had to pick the critical amendments for Florida in the past 10 years, it would be this year's amendments 4, 5, and 6.

5 and 6 prevent gerrymandering (Florida is the worst in the nation--but more on that later), and amendment 4 is HOMETOWN DEMOCRACY: which is the best and only chance we have against the nonstop sprawl in our state.

The developers have poured MILLIONS into fighting this, and the lies are maddening. They will stop at nothing to defeat this, and they are currently winning. Let me tell you exactly what it IS and what it ISN'T, and what's at stake.

Every community in Florida is required to have an overall master plan that sets aside land for development. This plans are called the Local Comprehensive Land Use Plan. They should rarely ever be changed once in place. However, right now, these plans are an absolute joke in Florida.

The developers bribe our commissioners with campaign contributions, who in turn change these plans over and over and over again. This is why there is so much sprawl and empty development...and the Florida taxpayers always foot the bill for this.

All Amendment 4 does is put any changes to this plan, which should be rare, to a vote by the community when the commission wants to let development occur “out of bounds” according to their own damn land use plan.

Citizens will only vote on changes to the local comprehensive land use plan.

They won’t vote on routine rezonings, variances, or individual development approvals. Voters won’t weigh in on every new grocery store or hotel, but will vote when a speculator wants to change, for example, farmland to apartments, or turn a residential area into a commercial zone. Only speculators who insist on building outside the community’s already agreed-upon areas will face a vote.

As of now, all a developer has to do is throw money a politicians way, and they get to bulldoze a rural area so they can throw up another strip mall or housing area. THIS COSTS US MONEY! The new developments require new roads, sewer, schools, police and fire services, and guess who has to pay for all of that? Why the hell shouldn’t we get a say?

Ever wonder who is putting all those very fancy signs you see everywhere and who is paying for those expensive commercials? The very same over-building developers and real-estate speculators that crashed Florida’s economy and the politicians who serve them.

These publicly traded construction companies engaged in reckless speculation, over-built many communities, and crashed Florida’s economy. Yet they received huge taxpayer bailouts this year and are now using them to try to deny Floridians the right to vote by funding the opposition to Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment 4.

Here’s a breakdown of recent contributions from the Bailed-Out “Bubble Builders” to Amendment 4’s opponent:

(Source: Citizens for Lower Taxes & A Stronger Economy PAC, Fla. Division of Elections – Searched by “Contributions” and “Amount” 4/1/2010-7/16/2020):

These are some of the big donors (how much they gave to fight Amendment 4 is the first number, how much public bail-out money they got is the second number):

Lennar Homes FL $367,000 $251.1 million
Meritage Homes $34,000 $93 million
M.D.C. Holdings $39,000 $142.6 million
Standard Pacific of Tampa $132,000 $103 million
Pulte Homes $567,000 $800 million
Ryland Homes $135,000 $97.6 million
KB Homes $255,000 $191.7 million
K. Hovnanian Companies $96,000 $250 to $275 million
Beazer Homes $75,000 $101 million
M/I Homes $73,000 $31 million
Toll Brothers $43,000 $78.8 million
MDC Holdings $39,000 $142.6 million

This is not a liberal or conservative amendment. Established politicians on the left and right who enjoy getting campaign donations are fighting their own citizens. Big name Democrats like mayor Buddy Dyer and his allies hate it just as much as the GOP funded politicians do.

Ironic that they argue that voters are wise when they put them in office, but suddenly become uninformed dolts who can’t handle having a say when a developer wants to sprawl in their communities. I would think that Florida teabaggers, who claim they want to take power from the government, would be all over this.

The latest line of attack is one of the most ridiculous arguments made yet... that this will somehow cut jobs. Preposterous.

Overdevelopment crashed Florida’s economy, leaving us with empty buildings and foreclosed subdivisions. Our local master plans have plenty of land set aside for development and builders could be building right now if it weren’t for the busted real estate bubble. In fact, there’s enough land set aside in Florida’s local comprehensive plans right now accommodate 100 million people – five times more than the 18 million people we have living here now.
It is ridiculous to suggest that giving people a vote will affect the job market.

Overdevelopment created eyesores and cost local taxpayers millions of dollars. Giving voters the chance to approve or veto projects will protect our homes and our pocketbooks.

VOTE YES on Amendment 4, and request your friends do so as well.

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