Op-ed Contributor Houck: Read Warning Label, Vote No on 4

By | October 27th, 2010 | 5 Comments

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Floridians will vote on several potentially game-changing amendments, including Amendment 4. Activists for and against Amendment 4 say its fate at the polls will impact Florida profoundly, and both sides have spent millions of dollars in the run up to the election. Since many Miamians remain hazy on the details, we asked the leading group on either side of the A4 debate to explain its position to Beached Miami readers. Here, Ryan Houck, leader of the Vote No on 4 campaign, explains why a vote for Amendment 4 is a vote for high taxes, low employment, and nonstop litigation. (Click HERE to read an op-ed by Amendment 4 champion Lesley Blackner.)

You have probably seen those tiny warning labels on the side of pill bottles, cigarettes, and credit offers. Well, here’s the warning label on Amendment 4, straight from its official Financial Impact Statement: “expenditures cannot be estimated precisely.” It means that they can’t tell us what it costs—and you know what that means: They’re asking for a blank check.

The special interest lawyers who bankrolled Amendment 4 say that their idea is “really simple” and that they “just want to give the voters a seat at the table.” What they don’t tell you is that these same lawyers make money suing taxpayers—and that they stand to make millions from the passage of Amendment 4. In fact, the non-profit, non-partisan Florida TaxWatch reports that the litigation costs of Amendment 4 could exceed $1 billion statewide.

And who gets stuck with the bill? We do—with higher taxes, fewer jobs, and endless litigation at taxpayer expense. According to a study conducted by The Washington Economics Group (WEG), Amendment 4 would likely cost Florida over a quarter-of-a-million jobs. Professor Tony Villamil, the lead economist for WEG, stated, “Amendment 4’s passage will have potentially devastating consequences to Florida’s economy.” Villamil’s report indicates that Amendment 4 would further damage our economy by killing jobs and raising unemployment at a time when Florida’s working families and small businesses can least afford it.

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Op-ed contributor Blackner: Save Environment, Vote Yes on 4

By | October 27th, 2010 | 7 Comments
Lesley Blackner

A4 activist Lesley Blackner says she's fighting to give voters control of their own communities. -- photo by Eileen Escarda

If you’ve turned on a radio or television lately, you know on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Florida will elect a new U.S. senator and governor, fill its 25 congressional seats, and vote on several potentially game-changing amendments, including Amendment 4. If passed, A4 would require voter approval of certain changes to city and county guidelines that say, basically, what can be built where. It may sound dry, but proponents and opponents of the amendment have spent millions to sway public opinion. Both sides agree on one thing: the fate of Amendment 4 will profoundly impact Florida.

With many Miamians hazy on the details, we asked the leading group on either side of the A4 debate to explain its position to Beached Miami readers. Here, Lesley Blackner, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, explains why a vote for Amendment 4 is a vote for the environment, conservation, and against corruption. (You can read an op-ed by Vote No on 4 executive director Ryan Houk HERE.)*

We all know that stupid, reckless overdevelopment has paved over too many of Florida’s unique places: her beaches, waterways, uplands, and wetlands. But what can we do about it?

The 2010 ballot gives us our first real option to change the future, to end the overdevelopment madness: Amendment 4.

At stake is our quality of life and natural resources. You know all too well in South Florida what happens when we allow rampant overbuilding: a glut of condo units in Miami and development into sensitive areas of the Everglades, threatening that unique ecological feature and decimating Florida Bay with runoff and pollution. How much more can South Florida take before it collapses, both environmentally and economically?

The Florida Panther, which used to roam the entire state, will soon be extinct. Why? Because over the past 10 years, so much of its remaining habitat has been paved over in Lee and Collier counties, one of the epicenters of the bust real estate bubble. Florida’s “dead cat walking” is a reminder that politicians and bureaucrats have shown time and time again they can’t be trusted to protect our homes, our communities, our beautiful state, and it’s irreplaceable wildlife.

But it’s not just wildlife that is threatened.

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