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Builders on Amendment 4: Bad for Jobs, Economic Growth and Democracy

| October 22, 2010

Don't leave them hanging.

By Charles Rinek

How many times have you recited the Pledge of Allegiance?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Take a moment to think about it. Just in school alone, it must have been at least a few thousand times. Add any community or government functions you have attended over the years and you are sure to have added a few more.

The Pledge, written in 1892 and subsequently edited four times, has always included the line “and to the republic for which it stands.”

Our Founding Fathers understood that direct democracies, like those used in early Greek City-States, lead to mob rule (or mobocracy) and often disintegrated into tyranny.

charles rinek flagler home builders association

Charles Rinek

James Madison wrote, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

To be successful,  a direct democracy requires full participation of all citizens. This never works because we are so occupied with our daily tasks that we don’t have the time to properly study the issues.

Seriously: Are you going to read a few hundred pages or more of technical data on a parcel of land that may be developed into something in the future but gives no clue what that might be at the moment, or are you going to make plans with your family?

The Flagler County Futures Committee, made up primarily of citizens, just spent two and a half years rewriting the county’s “Comprehensive Plan,” The blueprint for long-term land-use and development planning. Do you think you could make an informed decision about the intricacies in that document with the 75 words provided on the ballot? I know I couldn’t.

That’s why the Founding Fathers chose to form a republic–a representative democracy.

Now, 234 years and a few billion pledges later, proponents of Amendment 4 think our Founding Fathers got it all wrong. They think who you voted for to represent you aren’t good enough, and they should have more direct control over your private property.

The Live Commentary

The current process in Florida to change local growth-management plans, or Comprehensive Plans as they are known, includes five public meetings for citizens to express their feelings on the matter. Specifically, a community meeting for those directly affected, two hearings of the local planning board, and two hearings by city or county government, depending on whose jurisdiction the land in question falls under. Five meetings, some during the day and some at night to ensure that all can attend and be heard. But who shows up? Virtually no one. Government chambers are mostly empty, void of citizens expressing their approval or dislike of the future of their community.

The strength of a representative form of government relies on the people being involved.

Recently, some citizens of Flagler Beach were concerned about a proposed change to a local golf course. They organized. When the item came up before their city commission, they voiced their opinion and the change was not approved.

Beautiful: involved citizens active in their government, working to reform things they dislike.

That’s the real issue. Supporters of Amendment 4 aren’t interested in being involved in growth decisions. They just want to stop growth all together, whether it’s a house, a church, a school, or an employment center. They want to lock the gate to Florida. Don’t believe me? One of their main supporters is a population control advocacy group. That should tell you all you need to know about this plan.

So that’s the fundamental problem with Amendment 4. But what’s the practical problem and how will it cost us jobs and increase our taxes?

Let’s say a bio-tech company wants to move to Florida (hopefully Flagler County). The company’s plan is to bring 300 jobs, most of those paying more than the median income. Company executives have selected a site, but to accommodate their business they will need a land use change. They will have to get engineers, consultants and a bunch of permits, all of which take time and money. They have their five public meetings, the Regional Planning Council and the Florida Department of Community Affairs agrees with the local government that it’s a good idea and the proposed change is approved. Now they have to wait weeks or even months until the next voting cycle to get citizen approval. In the meantime, a local group that prefers not to have the added traffic and housing impact of 300 employees campaigns and defeats the project at the polls–and the jobs and benefits to the community are lost.

Maybe the local group is not successful and the community prevails. Soon there will be 300 new jobs and all the local revenue that comes with it. But wait, that’s what happened in St. Pete Beach. Citizens there approved a charter amendment that mimics Amendment 4. After years of no growth, a change was finally passed by the citizens, and supporters of Amendment 4 descended on the town with legal challenge after legal challenge that cost the taxpayers over $1 million to defend.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the bio-tech company, whose jobs we dearly need. Will you invest time and money to bring your company to Florida, where even if you follow all the rules set by your representative government you may or may not be able to complete your move, and if you do, you will have to spend even more in legal challenges? Or are you going to go up the road to another state that will be happy to take the benefits and taxes your company will bring?

That is just one example. The statewide results, according to Florida Tax Watch,  are estimated to be 260,000 jobs lost, $44 to $84 million in additional local taxes, and $1 billion in litigation fees.

Amendment 4 is a jobs killer that will raise your taxes. Please vote NO on November 2nd.

Charles Rinek is president of the Flagler Home Builders Association.

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8 Responses for “Builders on Amendment 4: Bad for Jobs, Economic Growth and Democracy”

  1. SAW says:

    With all due respect Mr.Rinek, but what are you guys smoking out there at your chamber meetings ?

    Whatever it is it must be good, as most of the rank and file are all falling into line, just in the hopes of making a few dollars somewhere in the long off future.

    Someone even e-mailed me today saying the Tea Party, has also fallen under your spell, but then again why not, as the Party leader is also top man in the chamber is he not , good infiltration huh ?

    Very strange bedfellows to say the least, as the builders etc. are for mass production of houses, houses which in the end, will only result in higher taxes for all, those taxes needed to pay for essential services.

    While on the other hand, the local Tea Party is comprised of well meaning local residents, and was founded to oppose continued higher taxes, this is a very strange alliance for sure ?

    Don’t fall for the spin, VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT # 4, HELP protect Florida into the future. Remember over-developement, is what dropped your home values, and got us all into this mess in the first place.

  2. Justice for All says:

    Mr. Rinek has inadvertently made the case for YES on Amendment 4. Here’s why.

    Local government comprehensive plans are professionally prepared documents that are based upon, usually, a 20 year planning horizon. State law requires the plans to be updated every five years. The five year update requires citizen input and participation prior to finalization. So to characterize the plans as something to be changed to accommodate a particular development is, well, bad planning, and where most of the problems start. Say you’ve attended that citizen input meeting and you know what your community plan says. But a developer is interested in, for example, a mall in one of our more pristine areas that has also been designated by the State of Florida for possible acquisition for environmental protection. The developer knows the jurisdiction he’s in may not accommodate him, so he meets with the adjacent jurisdiction who likes the tax base bump the project represents. Through a series of one on one meetings with staff and the elected officials, the request to amend the comprehensive plan seems, in the public’s eye, to suddenly appear on an agenda for action. You’ve had no idea this was coming up, because there was no notification requirement other than a legal ad in a newspaper (remember what those were?). To make matters worse, you are told during the public hearing you have three minutes to make your point. You’ve been outgunned and out maneuvered before you ever get to the podium because of the time spent by the developer under the public radar.

    The above summary is reflective of a true event previously reported on Flaglerlive – Conservation in Contempt. Unless you live in a small town such as Flagler Beach and are able to pack sufficient people into the public hearing that the elected officials can count the votes,, you really won’t know what goes on in your community until you see the building going up. One local community suspended its update of the Comprehensive Plan to amend its comprehensive plan to allow over 12,000 dwelling units in an area that is miles from nowhere. So much for citizen involvement in planning issues. Do you really think that the development will pay for itself or pay to expand already existing facilities, which is what State law required until the Legislature attempted to gut it two years ago (the courts ruled against the law). What happens if the development gets started and fails? Think those residents won’t demand services?

    And that brings us to the high cost of urban sprawl, which is really what Amendment 4 is about. Nathaniel P. Reed, lifelong Floridian, has written a letter in support of Amendment 4. The letter can be found on on the Florida Hometown Democracy web page. I’m voting YES.

  3. PC MAN says:

    Ah, the old what if a high tech company wants to come in and add 300 high paying jobs BS story. Good one. How many of those have you built recently Mr. Rinek ? Or do you just want to be able to build unfettered as you have been.
    If you truly love Flagler and Florida in general you have to vote YES ON 4 !

  4. Kip Durocher says:

    2010 Census – 28% of Flagler County residential homes vacant – ’nuff said.

    What we really need is a moratorium on building any new homes for a year or so.

    Various builder’s associations were main players with the banking industry in creation
    of the mess we have now. Can’t leave out the chamber of commerce lobby and all
    the real estate lobbys.
    Plus all their hand out cronies in every level of government.

    I have heard about that high-tech company in 5 Florida counties over 45 years and they have not shown up yet.
    You really wanna see the mess that all the above folks want to make of Palm Coast and Flagler County, just take a 2 night road trip and check out Cape Coral and Lee County, then Naples and Collier County. Swing across the now less than 40 miles wide Everglades and enjoy the grid lock in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Melbourne and Brevard are catching up fast.

    I lived in the fastest growing county in the nation in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and now here in the new century.

    These people will not police their own voracious appetites ~ it must be externally imposed upon them.
    For our own good and theirs.

  5. Jay Ell says:

    Save your energy, Mr. Renir. The only folks who believe you are those in your camp. Keep giving them more Koolade.

    The deceptive thing about Democracy is that money makes the rules. For this reason we have become the architects of our own destruction if we allow culprits to set our agenda.

    Truth and honesty are the keywords and it appears that you have lost sight of both. You will look back on this episode one day and have to live with the fact that you have betrayed yourself and your neighbors.

    You know as well as I do that there will be no major residential development for next 20 plus years, if then, so why are you blowing around all this hot air? By that time China will be making the rules and giving sampans to qualified builders and developers.

  6. SAW says:

    Well said on ALL the comments presented above, the chamber and their ilk, are now very well entrenched, and are controlling much of public thought.

    A lady told a friend of mine yesterday, that she voted early, “and said I voted NO on # 4, because if I voted YES it would have raised my taxes” DUH ??????????

    These characters must all be proud to be selling their state down the road, on the slim chance of making a few dollars, how very sad, and I always thought prostitution was illegal.

  7. Law Dawg says:

    The ONLY ones who will benefit from this amendment are the lawyers on both sides bringing suit after suit to keep everyone in court until the end of time. And who actually wrote this piece of crap legislation…..2 lawyers. Think about it people.

  8. starfyre says:

    we dont need jobs as long as welfare pays me…

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