Amendment 4 : Big Business vs. Environmentalists

If you want to know how you should vote on Amendment 4, you only need to take a quick look at the lists of supporters and opponents to figure out what’s happening. On the side of passing Amendment 4 into law are the Sierra Club, Friends of the Everglades, the Native Plant Society, the Audubon Society, Save the Manatees Club, the Student Environmental Association and the Urban Environment League.

On the side opposing Amendment 4 are the Association of Florida Community Developers, the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, the Florida Propane Gas Association, Utility Contractors Association of North Florida, Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, various chambers of commerce and the Martin 9/12 Tea Party Committee.

 

Amendment 4 essentially allows Florida’s locals to vote on big development enterprises and possibly say:  “No, we don’t want this built here.”  Supporters of Amendment 4 argue that if something like this had been in place earlier, we would have been able to prevent Florida’s “development bubble,” which is widely blamed for today’s economic and environmental woes.

In April, The Miami Herald issued an editorial that blasted everyone from the Florida legislature to lobbyists for the construction and development industries. “When it comes to the laws and enforcement of growth management, the Florida Legislature excels at playing games. Last year, in the name of fostering jobs, lawmakers adopted a bill allowing builders of large developments to evade paying for the road improvements these projects inevitably require. Now, local taxpayers must foot the bill.”

But an editorial or two in a newspaper might not be enough to compete with the advertising power of Florida’s business interests when it comes to influencing an election. The group called “Citizens For Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy” was formed to challenge Amendment 4 with the threats of job losses, higher taxes, and an unsound economy. Their website is bold and aggressive, with black and red lettering, and fully integrates with all your favorite social-media outlets.

Ranking far lower in a Google search is Florida Hometown Democracy’s website. They are the grassroots citizens group that gathered the petitions to put Amendment 4 on the ballot. Their website, while not quite as glossy or design-heavy as the “No on 4” site, does connect to a network of well-established environmentalists and voter-advocacy groups that have outlined the case for Amendment 4 in certain language.

“The folks who paved over paradise with over-construction and crashed our economy,” begins a letter from the Sierra Club, “are in full spin mode now that Florida Hometown Democracy is on the November 2010 ballot as Amendment 4.”


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