News and Commentary on Gainesville and the World | Updated Daily

Monday, August 29, 2005

This Sounds Strangely Familiar

Stafford Jones got a political hand job from The Gainesville Sun today. That's the nice way to put it.

Jones, the chair of the local Republican Executive Committee, announced that he has a plan to boost growth in the community. That the "plan" was merely worn-out anti-regulation rhetoric was of no consequence -- The Sun gave it tons of ink, never mentioning that every pro-development candidate for city or county government in the past three decades has had this same plan.

Jones blames zoning regulations, government interference with business and "progressives" for preventing "the area from growing and attracting young families and retirees who would help shore up the local economy."

"When my children grow up I don't want them to have to leave this community to find jobs," Jones said.

Sigh. For a marketing plan, I give it low marks on originality, and even lower marks on the likelihood of success. Growth management regulations and zoning laws have a purpose -- to prevent some nasty business from locating next to your house or church or whatever. Development review takes time because developments have major impacts on our community, and citizens have a right to look after their community.

There's been so much growth in Gainesville, Alachua, Newberry and Alachua County, with large employers, large retail centers, and bountiful housing developments, that you'd think the growth-at-all-costs side would be satisfied. But they never are.

Every election year, one or two candidates raise and spend tens of thousands of dollars to promote this message -- the "anti-growthers" don't want the poor to have jobs or for anyone to have lower taxes. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. It worked the best when The Sun's publisher was John Fitzwater, a rabid anti-regulation activist. He constantly portrayed growth management as "terrible" and promoted candidates like George Dekle, Bobby Summers and Jim Painter.

Fitzwater pretty much saved the anti-regulation crowd's butt after the Chambergate scandal, where the muckity mucks were caught on tape conspiring how to discredit UF professors and politicians who fought their growth plans. Fitz squashed the coverage, the Chamber wrote a public apology, and Fitz declared the issue closed. His staff stopped covering the damaging story, and Fitz followed with a decade of political attacks on any group or elected official who stood in the way of any development proposal.

Fitzwater's gone, but we still have folks like Stafford Jones to remind us that old ideas never die, they just become GOP talking points.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there has been so much growth, why does Alachua County have one of the lowest rates in the state?

3:51 PM

Blogger Colin Whitworth said...

Lots of reasons, but I certainly don't want to mimick the growth rates in South Florida. We ARE growing, though, and already we're having problems keeping up with the infrastructure, costs.

12:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this posting. It's nice to see that others are seeing through Stafford Jones and his 'ideas'. All he has shown is his ability to blow hot air and try to make himself look good by continually pointing out his predecessor’s failures. It won't be long until everyone else sees it as well. Thanks again!

12:48 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home