Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Government in action!

Sure, I vote and stuff but I rarely get the opportunity (or rather, take the time, if I'm going to be honest about it) to observe my government in action first-hand. So when I found out that the Cone Ranch issue was on the agenda at today's Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, I decided to go down and check it out, specifically the very start of the meeting when the public is allowed to address their concerns directly to the commissioners.
Now, if you don't go to many hockey games, you'd like to see a fight.
If you don't watch NASCAR very often, you want to see a crash.
If you don't regularly attend meetings where constituents get to tell their elected officials what they think about things, you kind of hope you might see...this:

No such luck today though. Where was the passion? Where was the commitment? Where was the crazy? Where were all the idiots who made the "Town Hall Meetings" and "Tea Parties" so much doggone fun? Heck, everybody was civil and most people even began or ended their remarks with happy holiday wishes. What's the fun in that? It did get a little steamy when some folks who were very upset with the job done by longtime County Administrator Pat Bean got up to voice their displeasure. They were especially angry that apparently not all of the commissioners even bothered to submit written evaluations of her performance. She was sitting right there when they spoke. I wonder if they knew that. They probably did. Ew!Awkward!

But that's about as juicy as it got. After that, I left because my parking meter was due to expire, but not before I took the opportunity to introduce myself to local activist Mariella Smith, with whom I've shared correspondence and an on-line friendship over the years but had never met in person. She gave me a big ol' hug, right there in the commission chambers so that was nice.

As to Cone Ranch, which is due to be addressed in that meeting about 25 minutes from when I type this, it seems like a no-brainer. Millions of dollars have been spent to replace water that has not been flowing into the Hillsborough River. That's money that would be saved by restoring natural wetlands already on Cone Ranch. The Environmental Land Acquisition and Protection Program wants to buy Cone Ranch, which in effect would simply be selling public land to a public entity that could manage it effectively. This clearly provides the greatest benefit to the most people. The alternative, selling almost 13,000 acres of public land to private investors benefits a very select few in one way only ($$$). Hopefully, by the time you read this, the BOCC has done the obviously right thing.

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