Once again the Chronicle editorial board has found an opportunity to fault what they call the vocal minority. Ocala tried to bring in the New York Yankees winter training. For the privilege of having them here and bringing in the mystical new jobs and growth the citizens were going to have to come up with a mere $80 million in new taxes. The vocal minority expressed concerns and questioned the validity of the project which the Yankees felt created a hostile environment to the plan and withdrew the idea. The Chronicle folks used this opportunity to express concern that our vocal minority might derail the medical corridor and port projects. My first question is what is a vocal minority? There are citizens that express concerns about various projects. What makes the Chronicle think they are a minority? Have we as citizens had an opportunity to vote on any of the proposals? Yes we do elect representatives but that does not mean they do as we want. In many cases these elected officials like in the last commission race did not win with a 51% vote but a simple majority of three candidates. Hopefully the Chronicle is not advocating that we ill-informed citizens just keep our opinions to ourselves and trust our elected officials to do the right thing. I don’t have room in this letter to go over the many missteps that have occurred in local, state and federal government by our fine trustworthy elected officials.
In my humble opinion every citizen has a right and responsibility to question the actions of our elected officials when they have concerns. I also believe it is the responsibility of our elected officials to provide citizens with the information they require. Regarding the two projects that the Chronicle brought up I have a few comments to offer. Let’s start with the port idea first. Was there any public display of preplanning? No. Does the county own any property in the port area? No. Did the county even realize before starting this project that a feasibility study had already been done that rejected the idea? No. Should the citizens have questions? Yes! The next idea that surfaced out of the blue was the medical corridor. Was there a detailed public plan outlining the project objectives and costs offered to the citizens before starting this project? No. Many citizens are still confused since 491 is already filling up with medical buildings without the medical corridor designation. An attorney from Tampa comes up with an idea at a meeting, the board jumps on the concept agrees to pay a very large sum of money to the attorney without going out for Request for Proposals (RFP) and the project moves forward. Should the citizens have concerns? I would definitely say Yes!! Interesting this is the same attorney that came up with the port idea that he presented privately to each commissioner at his Tampa office prior to the public presentation. I can continue with other issues in this county like the outrage over the MSBU. Was there a needs assessment done by the Sheriff prior to the MSBU debate? No. Has there been any attempt by the Sheriff or the Commission to detail, based on facts as to why the additional money is needed. No. The argument that other boards did not fund the fire service is not sufficient. The lack of funding might be the cause of the problem but the problem has not been documented with facts to the public and there has been no strategic plan offered to address the problems other than give me more money. So my advice to the Chronicle editorial board, not that they would ever take advice from what they call the vocal minority, is to stand up for those that are question government actions. Those of us that do so are exercising our duty as citizens of this country. I would suggest that instead of calling us a vocal minority you might want to change that to vocal concerned citizens