content top
recent posts

It is my Honor to Serve You~

It is my Honor to Serve You~
In addition to official Board meetings, Wakulla County Commissioners are required to serve on various Committees.  After being elected in 2012, my first official meeting was on December 3, 2012.  At that meeting, I agreed to serve on 8 additional committees even though I was a brand new Commissioner with a full time time private job.  My opponent, Commissioner Kessler, stated he wanted to serve on zero committees because he has other projects and would not be able to devote the time.  Click the photo below to hear this for yourself.  In spite of my busy schedule, I made the time, because these committees are important to our County.  Over the past 4 years, I have maintained this heavy work load.  Serving you is an honor.  I will continue to devote the time required of me, placing the needs of the county above my own personal needs.  You deserve a full time Commissioner who has the time to serve you!   Advertisement, paid for and approved by Ralph Thomas for Wakulla County...

United Nations and Agenda 21 in Wakulla?...

United Nations and Agenda 21 in Wakulla?
Updated on July 22, 2016 Last night, at the candidate forum hosted by the Wakulla VFW, a citizen asked my opponent about his plan to align Wakulla Springs with the United Nations.  Dr. Kessler denied any knowledge of such plan and claimed that it never happened.  After I refreshed his memory, he stated it was not his fault, he was only doing what citizens asked him to do.  He then stated that he would do it again.  WCTV interviewed Dr. Kessler, confirming that his plan did in fact happen.  To see the interview, click here.   The information below was originally posted on October 8, 2013 At the County Commission Meeting tonight, Commissioner Kessler proposed the following: Request Board Approval of a Resolution Supporting the Nomination of Wakulla Springs State Park as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands At first reading, I assumed this would be a non-controversial item, after all, we all love Wakulla Springs and understand its imprtance. As I always do, I started to dig beyond the presented item to make sure that I understood what I would be voting on.  I was not familiar with the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands, so that was the obvious place to start.  I first learned on Wikipedia that it was an international treaty, signed in Iran, in 1971.  That surprised me, but didn't give me any reason for concern.  I then made my way to www.ramsar.org.  I learned they currently...

Re-Elect Ralph Thomas for County Commissioner, District 1...

Re-Elect Ralph Thomas for County Commissioner, District 1
     For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of serving the citizens of Wakulla County as the Commissioner representing District 1.  I have come to learn that it is not an easy job, but it is one of the most rewarding positions I have ever had.  We are blessed to live in a beautiful county filled with great people who love their families, care for their neighbors and always take the time to help a stranger.        Most of us lead busy lives, trying to balance work, family time, and maybe squeeze in a bit of fun and relaxation when we can.  That leaves very little time for families to spend on local politics.  This reality, makes me understand and appreciate the importance of electing citizen servants who are commited to dedicate the time required to understand the complexities of local issues and the ability to make the difficult decisions that protect our way of life.           In November, you will be given a choice to determine the future of our county.  This year, there is a distinct difference between me and my opponent.  My job now, is to make sure you know the differences between us, to help you choose the best candidate who understands your struggles and shares your values.   Over the next few months, I will use this blog to re-cap my last 4 years in office.  It is my sincere desire that you know, I am the same person I...

Wakulla Veteran’s Day Celebration 2014...

Wakulla Veteran’s Day Celebration 2014
It was my honor to speak at the Veteran's Celebration this year!...

Buffer Zone or Twilight Zone?

Buffer Zone or Twilight Zone?
For more than a year now, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has been trying to convince voters to impose a new layer of government upon themselves. I know, I wouldn't believe it either if I had not seen it unfold myself. They have tried to convince the good people of Wakulla County that we need an ordinance that establishes a 75 foot buffer around wetlands. They have told us this will protect Wakulla Springs. They have told us this will improve our water quality. They have told us this will reduce the nitrogen that goes into the aquifer and makes its way to Wakulla Springs. We all want to protect our water quality. This sounds like a pretty good idea and sounds believable, right? Let's take a closer look. It is now common knowledge that the largest contributor of nitrogen into Wakulla Springs comes from the Tallahassee spray field. It turns out, the spray field is more than 75 feet from Wakulla Springs. It's actually more like 20 miles from Wakulla Springs. We could consider that a 20 mile buffer zone, yet, nitrogen still ends up in Wakulla Springs. If a 20 mile buffer zone fails to protect our water quality, how will the proposed 75 foot buffer make a difference? The truth is, it will not make a difference, especially considering the fact that the proposed ordinance does not regulate the allowable location of septic tanks. If the proposed wetlands ordinance is adopted, you...

Septic Tanks Wetlands and Wakulla Springs...

Septic Tanks Wetlands and Wakulla Springs
At this point, I'm sure everyone in Wakulla County is aware of the Wetlands discussion that has taken place over the past year.  I'm not aware of any topic that has generated more passion than this one.  We are fortunate to live in one of the most natural and beautiful counties in the entire state.  We all understand the valuable role played by wetlands.  We all want to protect wetlands and preserve our way of life.   Unfortunately, passion for an issue does not always guarantee that the truth will emerge.  Often times, the truth is overlooked or even suppressed when it does not fit neatly within the tactic chosen to achieve the end result.  Here is an example. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has spent the past year educating our citizens about the importance of wetlands.  Most of their tactic has been centered on water quality.  Most of their water quality statements have been centered on the quality of water that flows out of Wakulla Springs and ultimately makes its way into our Gulf and estuaries.  To reinforce this point, they cite statistics regarding the nitrogen levels that are detected in Wakulla Springs.  They correctly blame septic tanks as one of the sources of nitrogen that makes its way to our springs.  After setting this stage, it is natural human instinct for all of us to be emotionally connected to this issue.  We all understand the value of clean drinking water.  We can't live without...

No Wetlands Lawsuits?

No Wetlands Lawsuits?
You have been told by the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance that we have never been sued because of our prior wetlands ordinance.  Could that be true?  How can two sides disagree on something like that?  Either we have or we have not.  Shouldn't we be able to prove or disprove such a statement?  If it turns out that we have been sued, paid legal fees and paid settlement costs, doesn't it make sense that more suits are possible if voters adopt the proposed wetlands ordinance? Let's take a look and see who is telling the truth.  Decide for yourself! Below, you will find two links for the lawsuit complaint for just one of the suits.  See how many times the word wetlands appears in the suit. https://www.dropbox.com/s/1inq7hipijp911n/Complaint.pdf?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/1n8k4nzlfmd56f7/Complaint2.pdf?dl=0 The risk of wetlands related lawsuits does not currently exist in Wakulla County.  We eliminated this risk when we repealed the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance.  A yes vote on Referendum A will return this risk to Wakulla County Tax Payers.  If the proposed ordinance is adopted, it can only be changed by a unanimous vote of all County Commissions, after 2 years, or by another referendum of Wakulla County Voters. A NO vote on Referendum A will eliminate this risk! You now know the truth. Your friends and family deserve to know the truth also. Please share with everyone you know, by Facebook, email, and personal conversations. Also leave a comment below and share your...

Local Control?

Local Control?
      When a private property owner controls his own property, without Government overreach, THAT is the ultimate measure of LOCAL CONTROL! Don't give up control of your property! Don't allow more Government overreach into your life! Keep YOUR Local...

More Freedom

More Freedom
...

Protect Your Rights!

Protect Your Rights!
...

FL DOT Aquisitions – Genuine Concern or Conspiracy Theory and Political Witch Hunt?...

FL DOT Aquisitions – Genuine Concern or Conspiracy Theory and Political Witch Hunt?
In 2006, the Florida Department of Transportation approved an intersection re-alignment at the intersection at Hwy 98 and 319 near the Wakulla High School.  Recently, there has been a lot of conversation in our county about this intersection.  A Facebook page was setup to label the intersection as "Deadly" and attempted to tie a current County Commissioner to the State's decision to re-align this intersection. See for yourself here.  The Tallahassee Democrat has written articles, about the State's re-alignment plan.  The most recent article describes our home as, "Wakulla County, where political divisions run deep and conspiracy theories abound".  See the article here.  I'm never content with accepting what I read or what I hear, so I decided to do a little homework to help me reach my own conclusion.  Are the folks who are pushing this issue genuinely concerned about the State's acquisition of land around the proposed intersection or are these folks taking advantage of this issue to demonize a current County Commissioner with the hopes of replacing him with a new Commissioner who will do their bidding and help them further their agenda?     When I started my research, I had the following questions: Has the Florida Department of Transportation acquired other parcels of land in Wakulla County? If so, did FL DOT make their decisions independent of input from the Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners and Wakulla County Citizens? If prior purchases occurred, did the folks who are opposed to the High School realignment also...

The Choice is Clear

The Choice is Clear
    It would not be responsible to protect property rights, while destroying wetlands. It also would not be responsible to protect wetlands, while destroying property rights. A Yes vote on Referendum A will protect wetlands that are already protected by the State while degrading private property rights. A No vote on Referendum A will continue State wetlands protection, while strengthing local private property rights. To protect both wetlands and property rights, the choice is clear. Vote No on Referendum A....

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days...

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days
    Mirriam Webster defines Grandfather Clause as: Take a guess how many times the word Grandfather appears in the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.   Would you believe… 0   That's right!  No Grandfather Clause at all.   In fact, Sec. 32.004. of the proposed ordinance states, "This chapter applies to all development, as defined in this chapter, that may occur within Wakulla County." But, there are some exemptions… Sec. 32.011. – Exemptions. The following activities are exempt from application of this chapter: Development activities conducted in the following, so long as they were not constructed in wetlands or other surface waters and do not intercept an aquifer: artifically constructed waterbodies, including canals, lakes, and ditches that are not hydrologically connected to wetlands or other surface waters or are not a part of a government-approved mitigation plan; swales; stormwater facilities; gravel pits; stone quarries; or wastewater treatment lagoons. (2) Dredging and filling activities conducted within wetlands or other surface waters for which state and/or federal permits were issued for such purposes prior to the effective date of this chapter and which are still valid. (3) Bona fide agricultural uses and silviculture activities, as well as any activity of a bona fide farm operation on land classified as agricultural land pursuant to F.S. § 193.461, if such activity is regulated through implemented best management practices, interim measures, or regulations developed by the department of environmental protection, the department of agriculture and consumer services, or a water management...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Rebuild My Home if it gets Destroyed?...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Rebuild My Home if it gets Destroyed?
Question: If you have a home, let's say on the river, and it's destroyed by a hurricane or some other natural occurrence and you have to rebuild, if your home was less than 75 feet from the wetlands, can you rebuild in same place? Answer:  Here is the applicable section from the proposed ordinance.  Sec. 32.007. – Allowable uses. (a) The following uses shall be permitted in wetlands and other surface waters and buffers, provided they do not have an adverse impact on the wetland or other surface water. (1) Construction, repair, replacement or maintenance of docks, piers, boardwalks, observation decks, and other elevated walkways, used for water dependent activities, provided such structure meets the design standards contained in section 32.010 of this chapter, and so long as all applicable state and federal permits have been obtained prior to commencement of such activities. (2) The construction of private seawalls within an artificially created waterbody where such construction adjoins two existing seawalls not more than 150 feet apart. (3) Parks and recreation uses consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter. (4) Conservation and preservation areas and nature trails. (5) Hunting, trapping, and fishing, environmental education, and scientific research where not otherwise prohibited by law, and consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter. (6) Installation of boundary fences that do not alter the hydrology of the wetland or other surface water and which meet the design standards contained in section 32.010 of...

Wetlands Question and Answer – I Don’t Own Any Wetlands...

Wetlands Question and Answer – I Don’t Own Any Wetlands
I received the following question from a citizen seeking clarification of the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.  I welcome the opportunity to share the truth! Question:  I don’t own any wetlands.  This issue doesn’t affect me personally.  Why should I vote NO? Answer:  This is a question that I hear quite often.  Consider this.  If Referendum A passes every property owner and tax payer in Wakulla County will potentially by affected in at least two ways. 1.  By potential lawsuits.  Wakulla County tax payers have already paid legal fees and settlement costs for law suits related to our first wetlands ordinance.  I covered this in a previous post that you can see by clicking here.    The Bert Harris Act, in Florida Statutes, states, “When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government, as provided in this section.”   I covered the Bert Harris Act in detail in a previous post.  You can see it by clicking here.  2.  By  devaluation of land value.  If Referendum A passes, the proposed buffer zones will decrease the buildable area of lots that contain wetlands.  It will also   decrease the buildable area of many lots that...

Was the Wetlands Petition Really About the Right to Vote?...

Was the Wetlands Petition Really About the Right to Vote?
Last year, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance embarked on a petition drive to give the Citizens of Wakulla County the “Right to Vote”.  Were they being sincere when they told everyone this issue was about the right to vote or was that message chosen to convince voters to sign their petition?  Was it ever really about the right to vote?  Let’s take a look to see if their actions line up with their words. In the photo below, you can see their message. Now let’s take a look at what our County Charter says… To summarize, after the minimum number of petitions are obtained, the Board of County Commissioners had 2 choices: 1. Adopt the ordinance as referenced on the petition, which would take away the citizens right to vote on this issue. 2. Do not adopt the ordinance as referenced on the petition and allow the citizens to vote on the proposed ordinance. If the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance sincerely wanted the voters of Wakulla County to have the right to vote, wouldn’t it make sense that they would encourage the Board to approve option #2, Do not adopt the ordinance and give the voters the right to vote? Unfortunately, that is not what they did.  The vast majority of speakers encouraged the Board to adopt the ordinance and take away the voters right to vote on this issue. It turns out, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance abandoned their “Right to Vote” message after the petitions were...

Tyranny in Wakulla?

Tyranny in Wakulla?
Merriam Webster defines Tyranny as:  Why is this important to Wakulla County?  In November, you will be asked to vote for or against a proposed Wetlands Ordinance.  The ordinance includes the following statement:  Sec. 32.016. Ordinance Modification or Repeal. This chapter may only be modified or repealed by a referendum of the voters in Wakulla County, as provided for in the Wakulla County Charter, or by a unanimous vote of all five Wakulla County Commissioners at a legally called Wakulla County Commission meeting. If the new ordinance is adopted and we later realize that it needs to be amended, all 5 Commissioners will have to agree to change it.  If one Commissioner refuses to agree with the others, that one Commissioner will possess the power to “Veto” the other 4 Commissioners. Even if you support the wetlands ordinance, do you think it is a good idea to elevate one Commissioner to have power over the other 4?  This will be equivalent to a Presidential Veto, with one major exception.  If the President of the United States vetoes a decision made by congress, congress can override the veto with a two thirds vote.  No member of the United States Congress has the power to veto the entire governing body.  No member of the State Legislature has the power to veto the entire governing body.  No County in the State of Florida has an ordinance with a  Tyranny Clause.  Wakulla County will be the first, if this...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Build a Dock?...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Build a Dock?
I received the following question from a citizen seeking clarification of the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.  I welcome the opportunity to share the truth! Question:  If the new ordinance is passed, will I be able to build a dock on my property? Answer:  The proposed ordinance states: (1) Docks. The dock shall be located on the property at the point of least distance between the uplands and the open water body to minimize the intrusion into the wetland or other surface water. A dock shall only extend far enough to reach a maximum water depth of four feet below mean low water, so long as it does not extend beyond 20 percent of the width of the water body and have more than 500 square feet of over-water surface area in Outstanding Florida Waters or 1,000 square feet of surface area in waters not designated as Outstanding Florida Waters. If there is a vertical seawall along the shoreline and the water depth at the point at which the dock is constructed is already four feet below the mean low water line, the dock shall not extend more than 25 feet beyond the vertical seawall. The access walkway of a dock shall be no more than four feet wide. The terminal platform of a dock shall be no larger than 160 square feet. Boards or other opaque materials, if used to construct the surface of the dock, shall be no more than eight inches wide and...

King of Wakulla

King of Wakulla
What would you say, if someone proposed changing the Government structure in Wakulla County to give one Commissioner the power to control the other 4?  Would you vote for that?  Which one of your current Commissioners would you want to have this ultimate power? Would you believe it, if I told you we have a group of people in Wakulla County who want you to vote for this?  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to vote to adopt a wetlands ordinance in November.  This proposed ordinance includes the following statement, “these regulations can only be modified or repealed by referendum vote or unanimous vote of the County Commission”. So imagine this.  If the new ordinance is adopted and we later realize that it needs to be amended, all 5 Commissioners will have to agree to change it.  At first that doesn’t sound too bad.  If all 5 Commissioners agree, chances are the change is truly needed right?  What happens if a change is truly needed, but one Commissioner doesn’t agree with the other 4?  In that situation, we no longer have majority rule or consensus rule.  We will then have a situation where one Commissioner has the power to control the entire board.  If the lone Commissioner refuses to reach consensus with the others, a referendum will be required to take the issue back to the voters. Even if you support the wetlands ordinance, do you think it is a good idea to give...

Entire Wetlands Ordinance

Entire Wetlands Ordinance
It seems that everyone has an opinion about the new wetlands ordinance that will appear on the ballot in November.  I certainly do!  If you are a Wakulla County voter, your opinion, and the opinion of your neighbors will determine the fate of the ordinance and the future of our county.  I have attempted to do my best to breakdown this issue and share many of the key components of the proposal.  Several people have asked me how they can get a copy of the entire ordinance.  The proposed ordinance is almost identical to the prior ordinance with the addition of the following language: Sec. 32.016. Ordinance Modification or Repeal. This chapter may only be modified or repealed by a referendum of the voters in Wakulla County, as provided for in the Wakulla County Charter, or by a unanimous vote of all five Wakulla County Commissioners at a legally called Wakulla County Commission meeting. To View the entire proposed ordinance CLICK HERE! After you read it, please share your comments below....

Question and Answer – Wetlands Ordinance Modification...

Question and Answer – Wetlands Ordinance Modification
I received the following question from a citizen seeking clarification of the proposed ordinance.  I welcome the opportunity to share the truth! Question: If the ordinance is adopted and causes law suits to be brought against the County, I was told it could be changed with a unanimous vote of all 5 Commissioners.  Is this true? Answer: That is a great question, unfortunately, it is not completely true, because it does not tell the whole truth.  That statement was included on the petitions that were signed to place the ordinance on the ballot.  It also appears in the resolution that placed the referendum on the ballot, as follows: “Sec. 32.016. Ordinance Modification or Repeal. This chapter may only be modified or repealed by a referendum of the voters in Wakulla County, as provided for in the Wakulla County Charter, or by a unanimous vote of all five Wakulla County Commissioners at a legally called Wakulla County Commission meeting.”  Here’s the problem.  The Wakulla County Charter 6.1.2 states, “The Board of County Commissioners shall not amend or repeal an ordinance adopted by initiative prior to the next succeeding general election, without the approval of a majority of the electors voting at a referendum called for that purpose.” Therefore, if the ordinance needs to be changed for any reason, the Board of County Commissioner will have no authority to change it for 2 years, until the 2016 General Election.  Prior to this date, it can only be changed by...

Quick Fact – Is the Financial Risk to Wakulla County Real?...

Quick Fact – Is the Financial Risk to Wakulla County Real?
By now, you may have heard me say that the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance put our county at a financial risk of lawsuits.  This risk, along with my desire to protect property rights was the basis for my support of repealing the local ordinance.  My opponents, on this issue, do not posses the same commitment to property rights and they appear to be unconcerned about the financial risk they are inviting on Wakulla County Tax Payers.  I want you to know that the risk is REAL!  Below, you will find excerpts from the Florida Statute know as the “Private Property Rights Protection Act”.  I have included the most relevant sections for brevity and to communicate the basic idea.  To ensure that I am not accused of taking any part out of context, at the bottom of this article I have included a link to the entire statute.  All of my comments are in blue text.  The remainder is directly out of the Florida Statute. Section 70.001 of Florida Statute is referred to as the “Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act.” The Legislature recognizes that some laws, regulations, and ordinances of the state and political entities in the state, as applied, may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights without amounting to a taking under the State Constitution or the United States Constitution. The Legislature determines that there is an important state interest in protecting the interests of private property owners from such...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Beaches and Springs...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Beaches and Springs
Below, you will find questions I received from a concerned citizen.  I welcome all questions and I appreciate the opportunity to share the truth! Question:  So if the state is doing such a good job protecting our wetlands why are our beaches closed so often? Answer:  Wakulla County is unique.  More than 65% of our county is protected forest land. Forests contain wild mammals. Wild mammals poop in the forests. Poop contains bacteria, like Fecal Coloform and Enterococci.  Rain washes the bacteria into our bays. Our bays are shallow and situated in the “bend” of the pan handle.  This creates a pooling effect that does not quickly flush out our bays.  We typically see our beaches closed as a result of water quality after periods of heavy rainfall.  Heavy rainfall flushes everything in the forests into our bays.  While humans certainly have an effect on water quality, if they were the primary cause of poor water quality, we would see the problem more often.   Question:  Why are millions of our tax dollars being spent to restore our springs? Answer:  Some folks like to claim that the State, specifically the current administration, has no interest in protecting the springs.  If that was true, the Governor and Legislature would not be spending millions of dollars to restore our springs.  Lots of people live upstream from our springs with septic tanks that add nitrogen to the aquifer.  Tallahassee has a waste treatment spray field serving 250,000...

Wetlands Question and Answer – State of Florida Reaction Time...

Wetlands Question and Answer – State of Florida Reaction Time
Below, you will find a question I received from a concerned citizen.  I welcome all questions and I appreciate the opportunity to share the truth! Question: When I’ve spoken to some who plan to vote yes in November they state that it is because the state fails to react in time before irreversible damage is done to the wetlands. They feel that having the county ordinance in place helps ensure the state doesn’t drop the ball. I’ve really haven’t heard many say they buffer needs to be 75 feet. Just that something extra needs to be there to ensure preservation of our wetlands. What are your thoughts about the citizen’s concerns about the state dragging their feet and that being the reason why a county ordinance is needed? Answer: Great question! This is a widespread real concern that many people have. None of us want to allow harm to the wetlands. I think the best way to answer your question is with a recent “real world” example. A few week ago, a complaint was called in about a Wakulla Citizen who was filling in wetlands on Shadeville Road, just south of Wakulla Springs. In less than 24 hours, I visited the site, unannounced, and found the following: a stop work order had been posted on site by the Wakulla County Planning Department, a staff member from the Wakulla Planning Department was onsite along with 4 State Inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection and...

Quick Fact – Did you know the State regulates almost all changes to the landscape that affect surface water flows?...

Quick Fact – Did you know the State regulates almost all changes to the landscape that affect surface water flows?
You have been told that the State of Florida does not protect wetlands.  That is simply not true!  The State regulates “almost all changes to the landscape that affect surface water flows“. Did you know, even if a property contains no wetlands, it is still subject to State Wetlands Permitting if changes to the landscape will impact other properties?  This is more stringent than the proposed local ordinance and this State Wetlands Protection is already in place. A yes vote on Referendum A will add additional layers of Government Regulation. If a Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance is adopted, it can only be changed by a unanimous vote of all County Commissions or by another referendum of Wakulla County Voters. A NO vote on Referendum A will eliminate this threat. You now know the truth. Your friends and family deserve to know the truth also. Please share with everyone you know, by Facebook, email, and personal conversations. Also leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Click the image below to enlarge it or Click Here to visit the State Department of Environmental Protection...

Wakulla 9/11 Memorial Ceremony

Wakulla 9/11 Memorial Ceremony
      This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking at the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony.  My words fall short of the honor our First Responders deserve, but I did my best to communicate the appreciation and respect I have for them.  At the beginning of the Ceremony, a beautiful rainbow appeared above their vehicles. Here is a transcript of my speech.      I’d like for you to talk a walk with me, back in time. Today is September 11, 2001 8:45    am.  Just another peaceful morning, in New York City. One minute later, at 8:46, peace will  be shattered by the most evil attack ever perpetrated in the heart of our great nation.   Nearly 3000 people, from 93 nations, died that day.      2,753 in New York      184 at the Pentagon      and 40 more on Flight 93, 20 minutes outside of Washington DC.      341 firefighters and 2 paramedics from the New York City Fire Department      37 police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department      23 police officers from the New York City Police Department      8 emergency medical technicians and paramedics      3 New York State Court Officers      And 11 unborn babies died that day who never had the opportunity to live Since the attack, more than 1,400 rescue workers have died. 1,140 first responders and residents of Lower...

THEY ARE NOT FOOLING ME!

THEY ARE NOT FOOLING ME!
Follow me closely on this one.  Tell me if this makes sense to you. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to vote to impose a wetlands ordinance on the citizens of Wakulla County.   Their proposed ordinance states: Sec. 32.003 (7) “It is intended that the implementation of this chapter will accomplish the following objectives: c. Ensure that owners of property containing wetlands and other surface waters shall not be unconstitutionally deprived of substantially all beneficial use of their property by the application of these regulations. That sounds great right?  They are acknowledging the Constitution and their statement appears to be concerned with protecting the rights of property owners.  Let’s take a closer look to see if they really mean this. The proposed ordinance goes on to say…  The Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners may grant a variance for the following: (1) The development of residential and non-residential properties within Buffer Zone Two if a failure to allow such development will deprive the developer of substantially all economic and beneficial use of the property, and so long as such development is consistent with other provisions of the Wakulla County Code of Ordinances, the Land Development Code, and the comprehensive plan. Stills sounds pretty good right?  Sounds like they really do not want to “deprive the developer of substantially all economic and beneficial use of the property”, right? Take a closer look.  This variance only applies to Buffer Zone Two.  Buffer Zone Two is 35 feet to 75 feet...

MOW NO MO?

MOW NO MO?
Do you think it’s acceptable for your neighbors or the Government to tell you that you are forbidden to mow your yard and maintain your landscaping? Will you vote to take away your neighbors ability to landscape and maintain his yard? Do you want that much Government control over private property? The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to control your neighbor’s property.  (If your neighbor is not free to control his own property, are you free to control yours?) In November, they are hoping that you vote to impose this control over your neighbors.  Their proposed ordinance includes the following statement: “…the following uses shall be permitted provided they do not have an adverse impact on the wetland or other surface water or the buffer. …Buffer Zone Two: a. Landscaping and yard maintenance activities within an area not to exceed 25 feet in the front, 15 feet in the back, and eight feet on either side of the principal building located on such property and in a manner consistent with the design standards set forth in section 32.010 of this chapter.” So, what does this mean?  Simply stated… In the wetlands – No maintenance or landscaping is permitted! Within Buffer Zone One (35 feet outside of the wetlands) – No maintenance or landscaping is permitted!  That means no mowing, no planting, no weed control, nothing can be done in that area, even though it is outside of the wetlands area. Within Buffer Zone Two (Between 35...

WHO’S BINDING WHOM?

WHO’S BINDING WHOM?
Would you vote to adopt a local Wetlands Ordinance that contained the following statement? “In the event that the planning department issues a wetlands and other surface waters preliminary letter which includes an incorrect determination, the county shall not be bound by this determination if additional information received subsequent to the date of the letter reveals that wetlands or other surface waters are likely to exist.” Do you think it is acceptable to proclaim by ordinance, “The county shall not be bound” after the county makes a mistake and issues an incorrect determination? What if this property belonged to you or your family and you built your home exactly as the county told you to, and then you learned they made a mistake. Guess who will become bound if the county is not allowed to be bound? FYI, the statement above is in the proposed ordinance the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to adopt in November, Sec. 32.006 (b) (4). This risk has already been eliminated.  A yes vote will bring it back.  If it comes back, it can only be changed by a unanimous vote of all County Commissions or by referendum of Wakulla County Voters.  A NO vote on Referendum A will eliminate this threat. You now know the truth. Your friends and family deserve to know the truth also. Please share with everyone you know, by Facebook, email, and personal conversations. Also leave a comment below and share your thoughts....

Wakulla High School Intersection...

Wakulla High School Intersection
The Florida Department of Transportation is proposing a highway realignment for Hwy 319 and 98 in front of Wakulla High School. This proposal has been in process since 2006. Statements have been made that this proposal was “slipped” through the system without transparency and without knowledge or input from the Board of County Commissioners. At previous Board meetings, we voted unanimously to ask FLDOT to accelerate the installation of a traffic light at the High School. We also voted unanimously to ask DOT to reconsider the proposed intersection design to ensure that it would improve safety at the High School. At the Board meeting last night, we were asked to support a Resolution to delay the project. A lengthy discussion was conducted and we ultimately voted 3 to 1 not to ask FLDOT to delay the project. My discussion primarily focused on making sure our citizens were aware of the timeline for this event since 2006. I have two links below. The first link starts at my comments. The second link starts at the beginning of this discussion of this issue. Click the link below to pickup the discussion at my comments. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-iiT8ga5dE&list=UUay1FhoizH6bluO0H2GD7jA#t=8899   Below, you will find a link to the entire discussion of this issue....

Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance Repealed!...

Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance Repealed!
 On July 14, 2014, I voted with 3 of 4 of my fellow Commissioners to repeal the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance. With our vote, we restored fairness, restored property rights and eliminated the risk of lawsuits for our tax payers. In November, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance will ask you to vote to bring the ordinance back, to return to a double standard that divides the “haves” from the “have nots”. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to vote to give government control over private property. They want you to vote to bring back the risk of lawsuits to tax payers. They want to eliminate your property rights. They do not want you to have what they have. Watch this video to see the the discussion at the Board Meeting.  Vote NO in...

Wakulla Oyster Farmers!

Wakulla Oyster Farmers!
Last night I had the pleasure to see the future of Oysters in Wakulla County. I met an Australian Oyster Farmer named Leon.  He is a 25 year veteran of oyster farming in Australia. I attended his presentation at the Wakulla County Library. I was intrigued and excited about the possibilities this will bring to our county. Thanks to The Wakulla Environmental Institute, this technology is now a reality in Wakulla County. My hat if off to the new Wakulla Oyster Farmers, pictured below. They are modern pioneers!  Click here to see a video of the process they are bringing to our county....

Lawsuit Risk Eliminated!

Lawsuit Risk Eliminated!
Commission repeals wetlands ordinance Wakulla County to adhere to state standard protections, citizens will vote on reinstatement at Nov. 4 referendum Wakulla News, Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 11:55 am By NICOLE ZEMA nzema@thewakullanews.net Commissioners repealed the local wetlands ordinance at the July 14 meeting of the Wakulla County Board of Commissioners with a 4-1 vote, with Howard Kessler opposing. This means the local 75-foot wetlands buffer is scaled back to the state standard, which requires an average of a 25-foot buffer. Citizens were concerned that repealing the ordinance, and possibly reinstating it in the November referendum, could make the county vulnerable to lawsuits. Outside the meeting, Commissioner Ralph Thomas said there is a lot of confusion about the potential for lawsuits. He said repealing the ordinance now actually eliminates the risk of a lawsuit. ‘As far as property goes, we’ve eliminated the risk of a lawsuit, because the ordinance would be a prohibiting factor for them not being able to build,” Thomas said. “Last night we eliminated that risk. In November when people vote, they will be voting to bring risk back to us.” Thomas said once the Department of State registers the repeal within 10 days, a builder could get a permit approved within the “window of opportunity” before the November referendum. “If the ordinance comes back, they can still proceed on,” Thomas said. But people who buy property expecting to build on it after November might have a problem if the...

Florida Association of Counties Board of Directors...

Florida Association of Counties Board of Directors
NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2014 Contact: Jessica Welch Office of Communications & Public Services (850) 926-0919 Commissioner Ralph Thomas Appointed to the FAC Board of Directors LEON COUNTY, FL – Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas was appointed to the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) Board of Directors by FAC President, Escambia County Commissioner Grover C. Robinson. Commissioner Thomas was selected to fill one of six At Large seats on the Board. “FAC is a tremendous asset to County Governments,” said Commissioner Thomas. “Their experienced staff, dedication to advocacy of legislative issues and commitment to education allows counties to be a vital part of State Government. I am honored to represent Wakulla County on this Board.” The FAC Board of Directors is elected based on Florida Senate districts with an additional six at-large directors appointed by the FAC President. This year the seats from even districts were up for election at the FAC Annual Business Meeting at the 2014 Annual Conference & Educational Exposition. “The Board of Directors is the leadership of the Association, they provide operational guidance as well as strategic vision for the future of FAC,” said FAC Executive Director Chris Holley. “Commissioner Thomas’ experience as a leader in his community is a valuable asset to the Board.” Directors are elected to serve two year terms while At Large seats are appointed annually. For more information of the governance and leadership structure of the association please visit the website at...

Certified County Commissioner

Certified County Commissioner
NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2014 Contact: Jessica Welch Office of Communications & Public Services (850) 926-0919 Commissioner Ralph Thomas Earns FAC Certified County Commissioner Designation Orlando, FL – The Florida Association of Counties (FAC) presented Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas with the Certified County Commissioner (CCC) designation following Commissioner completion of a comprehensive study program developed by the association. Commissioner Thomas received the designation with 41 other county commissioners during an awards ceremony held at the FAC Annual Conference in Orange County, FL. “I am grateful to the Florida Association of Counties for offering this training and certification. The knowledge I have received from this program has equipped me with the skills and tools needed to allow me to better serve the citizens of Wakulla County,” said Commissioner Thomas. CCC certification is not a requirement to serve as a county commissioner in Florida. However, county commissioners may voluntarily enroll in the program and complete a series of courses totaling 42 hours. The coursework is designed to provide information and enhance skills relevant to a commissioner’s duties and responsibilities as an elected official. “This certification allows our citizen electorate to become experts in county government improving their communities,” said FAC Executive Director Chris Holley. “The 380 graduates of this program is a testament to the importance of this curriculum to Florida’s public servants and our counties” The CCC program coursework covers a variety of topics, such as county government roles and responsibilities,...

The Constitution and Current Events...

The Constitution and Current Events
I was invited to participate in a radio program to discuss how our Constitutional Rights apply to current events. Tune in to Wave 94.1 today at 5:30pm to hear the first show. You can also catch the show online here  http://www.wave94.com/ondemand.html I welcome your feedback in the reply section...

Playing by the “Rules”?...

Playing by the “Rules”?
There is currently a battle in progress in Wakulla County.  Contrary to what some would have us believe, it is not a battle between those who love the wetlands and those who don’t.  We all love our wetlands and all of our natural resources.  The battle that currently rages in Wakulla County is between those who believe in property rights and freedom, on one side, and on the other, a group of Radicals who believe their agenda gives them the right to control the rest of us.   In the 1970’s, Community Organizer Saul Alinsky wrote a book called “Rules for Radicals”.  Mr. Alinsky’s rules are in full play by those who wish to take away your rights.  We saw an example of this in the Wakulla News this week. RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. Below, you will find a letter that appeared in response to a letter that I wrote last week.  Then you will find my letter.  As you read the response, notice how the writer attempts to ridicule me with irrational statements that are fabricated and are unrelated to my comments.  I think you will agree that the writer is unable to present a defense for his statements.  They are certainly irrational!  Fortunately, they are not infuriating, because I see through his shallow attempt to ridicule...

Stand Up for Tallahassee Community College and the Wakulla Environmental Institute!...

Stand Up for Tallahassee Community College and the Wakulla Environmental Institute!
The No Growth/No Progress crowd is mobilizing once again in an attempt to kill everything that creates new jobs and improves the quality of life in Wakulla County. We have seen them in action for years, trying to control their neighbors and terrorizing everyone they do not agree with. For years, they have claimed to be environmentalist and used that as the basis to oppose all progress in Wakulla County. Now, they are opposed to a clean and green initiative proposed by the Wakulla Environmental Institute. The truth is finally emerging. They are opposed to all growth and all progress. For them, it’s not really about the environment. It’s about control! They kill jobs and discourage businesses from moving into Wakulla County. If we allow them to kill this clean/green, environmentally responsible project, that message will discourage other businesses from expanding into our county. Enough is enough! Stand up tonight in support of this project! June 17, 2014 7PM – 9PM Live Oak Room Woodville Community Center 8000 Old Woodville Road Tallahassee, FL...

Remembering Those Who Gave All

Remembering Those Who Gave All
Today, I had the honor of taking part in the Wakulla County Memorial Day Ceremony.  A large crowd turned out to honor our fallen heroes.  It was my pleasure to deliver this message. It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle.  It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes in battle. – General Norman Schwarzkopf General George S Patton said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” Thank you for joining me today as we honor the memory of the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, to ensure that that our great nation will always remain free. What is Memorial Day? First, let’s take a look at what it’s not. Memorial Day was not created… To encourage us to gather with our friends and family at our favorite beach. Memorial Day was not created to reward hard working Americans with a 3 day weekend. And it certainly was not created, so that we may honor those who have become masters of the BBQ Grill. Memorial Day is also not a time for us to honor those who still serve or the 40 million veterans who live among us today. My brothers and sisters who served, deserve our honor and respect every other day of the year, but today is not about us.  We have not earned the right to be honored on...

Go Navy Junior ROTC!

Go Navy Junior ROTC!
As a Navy Veteran, I understand and appreciate the importance of teamwork and service to our community and to our country.  We are fortunate in Wakulla County to have a Navy JROTC program.  We are blessed to have leaders who model real leadership to our youth and instill a sense of pride in them and a desire to make their community and their world a better place.  These students have chosen the “path less traveled”.  It doesn’t take long to figure out, that path requires more effort.  It requires dedication, and it requires teamwork.  We probably do not praise their efforts enough even though we constantly see them quietly serving our community.  I know they do not serve for praise or attention but I also know everyone appreciates hearing, job well done!  On Monday night, the Board of County Commissioners had the honor in participating in a presentation from Keep Wakulla County Beautiful to the Wakulla High School Navy JROTC students.  When you see these young leaders in our community, I hope you will join me in saying thank you and job well...

I Will!

I Will!
Yesterday, I was at the VA Clinic in Tallahassee.  I had a conversation with a staff member who appeared to be overflowing with pride and patriotism.  He shared with me a story about Mr. Wilbur Jones.  It turns out the Clinic had just performed a ceremony for Mr. Jones, honoring him has their oldest patient at 102 years old.  As I made my way through the facility, I took the time to notice my fellow veterans a little closer.  I saw many who were much older than me and a few who were much younger than me.  I couldn’t help but realize the diversity that we all represented.  There were men and women of every age and color.  Some appeared to be completely healthy while others appeared to be bearing the burden of failing health that descends upon us all.  Our clothing was different, our accents were different and even our personalities were noticeably different.  Were it not for the knowledge that I was in a VA clinic, there would be little way for me to tell that I was among some of the finest, most selfless individuals in our community.  I couldn’t help but imagine all the stories that could be shared if only I had the time to get to know each and every one.  As I considered the diversity represented, I wondered what was the common bond that drew such a group of individuals together, in spite of extreme age and...

You Have the Right to Vote to Protect Property Rights!...

The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has Met the Signature Requirement! Citizens Can Now Vote to Protect Their Property Rights in November. As many of you know the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has successfully collected the required number of signatures for citizens to have the opportunity to vote for local property rights protections this November. A No Vote is a vote for: Less government regulations Decreased financial risk to Wakulla tax payers Restored Property Rights Restored Individual Freedom A yes Vote is a vote for: More government regulations Increase financial risk to Wakulla tax payers A loss of property rights A loss of the individual freedom that is guaranteed by the United States Constitution  I am sure you will find this short article from the Tallahassee Democrat interesting, especially comments from those who are opposed to freedom and want the government to take away your rights. Here’s a link to the Tallahassee Democrat‘s story –...

No Adverse Impact to Wetlands in Wakulla County Determined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Determined...

No Adverse Impact to Wetlands in Wakulla County Determined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Determined
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, February 20, 2014, Jennifer Portman The Wakulla County Commission eliminated wetlands protections from its comprehensive plan as expected on Tuesday, as organizers of a citizen-led petition drive announced they will have enough signatures to let voters decide the issue in November. The commission voted 4 to 1 to remove from its comp plan a provision that calls for a 75-foot buffer around wetlands. The move is the first step, begun last summer, to get rid of the county’s wetlands protection ordinance, which bans all development within 35 feet of wetlands and restricts building within 40 additional feet if no other options exist. The current majority of the board says the rule is an unnecessary impediment to development and infringes on personal property rights in a county where about 60 percent of the land is wetlands. The move signals a departure from years of efforts to enhance local policies aimed at water-quality protection. Three years ago, the board, with different members, unanimously approved the reinstatement of the ordinance, first adopted in 2006. Commissioner Ralph Thomas said he expects the commission will press ahead and vote to rescind the enforcing ordinance as soon as possible, despite recommendations from the county’s planning staff that the board wait until after the results of the November vote. He stressed existing state regulations provide enough protection for wetlands. “I love the wetlands just as much as anyone, but some people want too much protection,” Thomas said. “We...

Wetlands: A look at both sides of the issue...

Wetlands: A look at both sides of the issue
  The Wakulla News Wednesday, January 8, 2014 By AMANDA MAYOR amayor@thewakullanews.net Editor’s Note: In an effort to represent both sides of the wetlands issue, The News sat down with an advocate for each side, Chad Hanson and Commissioner Ralph Thomas. “The thing is, the stuff that I do on my property…it still affects other people.  If I dump oil on my land, it’s going to affect others and the environment.” Chad Hanson is an environmental advocate for a non-profit company where he does a lot of work with fisheries and the sustainability in the Gulf. Hanson, who lives along the Wakulla River in the Mysterious Waters neighborhood, was part of the original Concerned Citizens of Wakulla group in the early 2000’s and has long been a close follower of the county’s wetlands issues. Hanson is a strong supporter of keeping development projects out of wetlands areas. “We need to find a balance between protecting the environment and protecting a person’s individual freedoms.” Ralph Thomas is vice-chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and a major proponent in advocating for the rights of property owners when it comes to current wetlands issues.  Commissioner  Thomas feels it is his job as a politician in a representative form of government to provide a voice for those who stand in smaller numbers. He acknowledges the need for environmental protections and said that he greatly respects those that are passionate about them, but that a balance is needed between rights and...

Will You Lend a Hand?

Will You Lend a Hand?
You Can Make a Difference in Our Community! Would you like to give input on important matters in Wakulla County?  Are you willing to contribute your talents and take an active role in local government? Are you interested in serving our county? If so, there are numerous opportunities to serve My Appointments Code Enforcement Board Member – May live in any District in Wakulla County. Library Advisory Board Member – Must live in District 1 Parks Advisory Board Member – Must live in District 1 If you are interested in serving in any of these positions, please give me a call at 597-3858, or send me an email at rthomas@mywakulla.com Additional Positions Available Tourist Development Council Member, Deadline 12/20/2013  Click Here for details Industrial Development Authority, Deadline 12/8/2013  Click Here for...

The Big Picture?

The Big Picture?
On November 22, 2013, Commissioner Kessler published a blog post that included a letter from Wakulla Wetlands Alliance Treasurer, Mr. James Hennessey.  In Commissioner Kessler’s blog, he invited the citizens of Wakulla County to “Look at the Big Picture”.  Below, you will find a link to Commissioner’s Kessler’s blog.  If you haven’t seen it already, I encourage you to read it.  After you have considered Commissioner’s Kessler’s “Big Picture”, come back here and let’s zoom in on the Big Picture and take a closer look at the fine details.  To view Commissioner’s Kessler’s blog Click Here. Welcome back.  There are many issues that I could respond to in Commissioner’s Kessler’s post.  I will focus on just one statement made by Mr. Hennessey… “And while you have been informed by the county attorney that there have been no successful suits of the county based on a ‘taking” with the current ordinances, you may be setting up the county for that cost in the future by going ahead with the elimination of the protections provided by the comp plan and related ordinances, rather than simply amending them to deal with any clear issues of unfairness.” All 5 Commissioners received an email from the County Attorney on October 17, 2013, regarding suits against the county that relate to a “taking”.  This email is a matter of public record, available to anyone who wants to see it.  Mr. Hennessey, through Commissioner’s Kessler’s blog, said there have been no successful suits...

Protect Your Rights!

Protect Your Rights!
The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has adopted the message, “You Have the Right to Vote”. I agree with them.  You do have the right to vote! Yes, you read that correctly, I agree with the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance.  You do have the right to vote.  You may be wondering, how can that be?  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is telling us, 4 Commissioners are trying to take away our right to vote. So, how can I agree with them? Quite simply, it’s a fact that you have the right to vote.  No one is trying to take away that right, but there are a couple more concepts that I think you should consider before you sign your rights over to the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance. 1. Is the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance telling you the entire story? 2. Have you considered the other side of the story before you give the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance your signature on their petition? 3. Is the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance Protecting all of your rights? Consider this… The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to sign their petition and they want you to vote to impose restrictive regulations on private property.  You have that right, right?  After all, restricting the property rights of others is acceptable when we can be assured that it is for the greater good of the public, right? It sounds good and it seems to be accurate, but is the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance telling us the entire story?  Are they using one right to take away another right?...

Decide For Yourself!

Decide For Yourself!
The following email was sent to all County Commissioners and the County Attorney this morning by a member of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance.  This email is a matter of public record.  At the end of this email, I will share videos of the event this gentleman is referring to.  I invite you to take a look and decide for yourself! Date: November 8, 2013 To: The Board of County Commissioners and Heather Encinosa, County Attorney I am contacting all of you to register a formal complaint about the manner in which this past Monday’s Commission meeting was conducted.  While I think we can all accept that there can be strong differences of opinion on specific issues, I was taken aback that Commissioner Ralph Thomas would engage in gratuitous personal attacks on me and other members of a non-partisan, all-volunteer citizen’s group. His calling us hypocrites was defamatory and using a public meeting for these attacks strikes me as not only unethical, but also an abuse of his power as a public official. The use of a power point presentation in doing this was clear evidence that this was not a momentary lapse of judgment, but a premeditated attempt to discredit citizens whose taxes go to pay his salary and who have a right to expect honesty and common decency from their commissioners. In addition, it was a cowardly act in that he knew that there would be no opportunity for those citizens he was maligning to...

Hypocrite?

Hypocrite?
Click on the vidoe at the end of the post. Is it just me?  Do you find Mr. Hennessey's position hypocritical?  He doesn't want you, or anyone else, to build near the wetlands. He built his house near the wetlands. He thinks a larger buffer zone would obviously provides greater protection to wetlands. He didn't build his house with the maximum buffer zone that his property would allow.  He doesn't want you to impact his oysters. He built a doc that is more than 480 feet long across those oyster beds. He is the treasurer of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance. He is not a new comer to the scene of the wetlands battle.  He was involved in a previous Wakulla Wetlands lawsuit, that was settled by our insurance company for $200,000. He gets to unwind at the end of day with an unspoiled view of the gulf with the warm salty breeze blowing through his golden wispy locks of hair.  He says you should have the right to vote.  He wants you to vote to make sure no one else can have what he has. Will you sign his petition? Will you let him take away your freedom, for his enjoyment?...

The Truth They Were Hoping Wouldn’t Come Out!...

The Truth They Were Hoping Wouldn’t Come Out!
At the Board of County Commissioners meeting last night, I pointed out that property owners simply want to use their land just like members of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance are able to do.  I compared properties of a few of our citizens to properties of members of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance to point out what I believe is blatant hypocrisy.  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is pushing a petition to convince people they have the right to vote to ultimately place restrictions on the private property of other citizens.  They say they are doing this because the wetlands are important and should be protected from development.  Take a look at the photos below and decide for yourself if these folks are truly concerned about development in or near wetlands.  Note, I was very careful to point out that I was not accusing any of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance members of any wrong doing.  These photos are presented under the assumption that everything was properly permitted or properly exempt.  My intent was to point out that they were able to utilize their private property in a manner they desired.  I am simply asking that everyone have the same ability to use their property, as they wish, just like the members of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance. Decide for yourself! Both of these properties are located in Spring Creek.  Mr. Linder has been told that he can not build a home on his property.  The proposed home will not be...

Please Visit The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance!...

Please Visit The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance!
The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has taken a position that is completely opposite from my position, on the wetlands in Wakulla County.  I am confident that good people make good decisions when given the truth.  For that reason, I am encouraging everyone to visit their websites and learn everything you can about their position. I will admit, their message is clear.  Their execution is beautiful.  Their photographs are stunning and they have managed to capture images that reflect the beauty of our county.  But, are they telling us everything?  Think about this.  In a court of law, it is not acceptable to just tell the truth.  We are required to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  If we leave out one of these three, the truth has not been properly represented. Before you visit their beautiful websites, I would like to give you something to think about.  Take a close look at this photo. You will not find this photo on either of their websites.  This property is located at Shell Point.  As you can see, it is surrounded by water on three sides.  Just imagine the views it must have.  Imagine the sunsets and sunrises that must be enjoyed from this home.  It is quite possible that many of the beautiful photos that you will see on the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance websites were actually taken from this property.  Now think about this.  This home was built on a formerly beautiful...

Will You Sign Away Your Property Rights?...

Will You Sign Away Your Property Rights?
Tonight I was shopping with my family.  A young couple, Emily and John, introduced themselves to me and let me know they did not agree with my position on the wetlands.  They told me they were approached by a member of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance who asked them to sign a petition.  They decided to think about it first, but planned to sign after they finished their shopping.  They asked me how I could be opposed to signing the petition.  Initially, they were uncertain about the whole wetlands issue, but after talking to the person gathering signatures, the choice seemed so obvious.  I was surprised to hear this so I asked them if they would help me understand what made them come to this conclusion.  They replied, the petition questions.  The gentleman asked us… Do you think wetlands should be protected? Do you think you should have the right to vote? Did you know our Commissioners are eliminating wetlands protection and they don’t want you to have the right to vote? Will you sign a petition to protect your right to vote? I asked them to please tell me more.  They said, there is nothing else to tell.  That’s all the gentleman asked us.  We should have the right to vote. I responded, I’m surprised he didn’t ask you the rest of the questions to make sure you understand the entire issue.  Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions?  They...

The Truth Emerges!

The Truth Emerges!
We had a very productive Board of County Commissioner’s meeting tonight.  Commissioner Merritt weighed in on a statement that was made at the Planning and Zoning meeting last week.  A concerned citizen stated that we need to keep the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance to protect the tupelo trees, and the honey that is produced from them.  Commissioner Merritt comes from a family of Wakulla County bee keepers.  Tonight he clearly stated that tupelo trees and honey would not be harmed by removing the wetlands ordinance.  Commissioner Kessler admitted that removal of the Wakulla Wetlands ordinance would not enable development in the wetlands. Commissioner Kessler admitted that the 75 foot buffer that currently exists in the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance is an arbitrary number, not based on...

Weapon of Mass Destruction?

Weapon of Mass Destruction?
The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is trying to convince the good people of Wakulla County that they care about the wetlands.  At the same time, many of their key members live on, or near, the wetlands.  They have beautiful homes, with stunning views of our lakes, rivers, and bays.  They maintain their yards to keep them aesthetically beautiful.  Apparently, they believe they are living in harmony with the environment, right?  If they are able to live in harmony, I wonder why they think that you and I can not do the same.  We all know actions speak louder than words.  People can tell us anything they want, but the proof is based on our ability to see it for ourselves to confirm that they are telling us the truth.  I have never been the kind of person to beat around the bush.  I believe in calling a spade a spade.  I believe the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance members think it is acceptable to impose rules upon the citizens of our county, that they have no intentions of following themselves.  They remind me of aristocrats and royalty, who are above the law and live by a different set of rules than the common people.  They are not complying with the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance now.  If they are not complying, they must not truly believe that it provides protection, or they just don’t care.  Those rules are for you, not for them.  For example, here is an excerpt from the current...

Straight Facts?

Straight Facts?
On the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance website, they have a list of what they call: STRAIGHT FACTS addressing misinformation and rumors: The truth will always stand up to scrutiny.  Let’s see if they are telling the truth.  Their words are in red and black.  Mine are green. MISINFORMATION Wakulla County has paid $600,000 for wetlands lawsuits – the most that has been paid was an out-of-court settlement of approximately $125,000 for administrative errors made by the county. Let’s straighten this out.  It’s not that difficult to verify the truth and stick with the facts.  Show me the money! MISINFORMATION Changes cannot be made to the wetlands ordinance after the referendum is passed: This is not true. The wetlands referendum allows commissioners to make wetlands changes with a unanimous vote or by referendum. This comment matches the WWA’s proposed referendum.  I’m not personally aware of anyone making the statement they are calling misinformation, so I would encourage the WWA to quote their source for this statement. MISINFORMATION Builders need to use the wetlands to be profitable: Not so. A few developers will profit. At this time, Wakulla County has over 7,000 buildable lots waiting to be built upon. Builders have thousands of Wakulla County lots for construction and new jobs without destroying wetlands. I would encourage the WWA to quote their source for this statement also.  It certainly did not come from me!  My initial reaction, the WWA is probably the one spreading misinformation on this one.  Even if Wakulla County...

Show Me The Money!

Show Me The Money!
Lately, numbers have been thrown around regarding the cost of lawsuits that were related to the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance.  Below you will find a breakdown from the County Attorney On Oct 17, 2013, at 4:01 PM, “Encinosa, Heather” <hencinosa@ngn-tally.com> wrote: Commissioners: This email summarizes what I spoke to each of you about regarding costs associated with wetlands lawsuits.   The financial information is from the clerk’s records.To the best of my knowledge, there have been two lawsuits with claims involving wetlands.  Both of them occurred under the old wetlands ordinance that was enacted in 2006 and has since been repealed.  If there are other lawsuits involving wetlands, I am not aware of them. Crum and Tucker v. Wakulla – this case involved a challenge to the wetlands ordinance enactment process and a public records violation.  The wetlands count was resolved very early when the court ruled that the ordinance was not enacted through the proper procedures.  The public records count was litigated and ultimately settled.  The attorney’s fees were about $50,000.  The settlements were $158,000.  Attorney’s fees for Mr. Crum and Mr. Tucker are statutorily authorized for public records lawsuits and were included in the settlement amounts.  Total = $208,000.00, but majority dealt with public records. Log Creek – this case included both an appeal of a code enforcement board finding of violation and a separate suit filed by two landowners in the County.  The separate lawsuit included claims of equal protection, due process, takings,...

Property Rights Taken!

Property Rights Taken!
  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance says no one has ever been denied the use of their property by the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance.  Well that’s just not true.  Here is one person’s experience. I own some land in Wakulla, just under 5 acres. After spending a good amount of money on a survey, water-line delineation and environmental impact analysis (it has a pond on it), we were told the land cannot be issued a permit for a dwelling ( because of the county’s strict comprehensive plan – even though it has the correct zoning and I’m paying taxes like I could build on it). The plan says one cannot build within 75 feet of the “effective” water line, and said water-line was determined by paying an environmentalist $1,400 to jump up and down on a the ground and see if it feels “squishy” (our “squishy” water-line happened to be 30 feet from where the water line actually is – thanks lady). If you’ve watched the news lately, you know we have plenty of “big government” issues to talk about, but we also have some of the same issues here locally. If you own land in Wakulla (or plan to), or know somebody that does, I urge you to attend this meeting on Oct. 14th. As far as we can tell, 4 out of the 5 commissioners are on board to repeal this oppressive law and if it is overturned, Wakulla will revert back to State...

Stand Up For Freedom!

Stand Up For Freedom!
There are people in our country who find it acceptable to barricade out the very heroes who liberated the entire world from those who tried to take away our freedom.  Thank God, they stood up for freedom, when our country needed them.  Thank God, a new generation stood with them to break down the barricades. There are people in our county who are still trying to take away our freedom.  They don’t trust that you are capable of deciding how you use your land.  They want to make those decisions for you.  This is just another barricade, and a blatant attack on our freedom.  Stand up and let your voice be heard. Tell them: We do not need more layers of Government Bureaucracy We do not need an Alliance to decide how we use our land We do not need Collectivism or Socialism to get a foothold in our County We do not need any group that tramples on the rights of individuals We do not need an Alliance to figure out what is best for us We do not need anyone telling us our views do not fit with the “greater good” of the community We do not need a County Wetland’s Ordinance when the state already provides protection We do not need a petition We do not need the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance On Monday, October 14th at 7 pm, you can stand up and let your voice be heard! 29 Arran Road Crawfordville The...

Freedom or Collectivism?

Freedom or Collectivism?
A very dear lady posted this to my Facebook page today: I am a proponent of Agenda 21.  If you can prove to me that the conspiracy theory is really true, I’d like to hear it.”  This was my answer to her: I never said Agenda 21 was a conspiracy.  I believe you were the one to introduce that into the conversation.  To be a conspiracy it would have to be a secret, or have a hidden agenda.  I’m fully aware there is no hidden agenda.  The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is the perfect example of that.  They fully embrace the “agenda” and have worked for 42 years to implement it.  That is not a conspiracy.  I suspect that you have wandered away from the real point as you have endeavored to educate yourself about this issue.  The premise of Agenda 21 focuses on moving toward a one world system that regulates every aspect of our lives for the “greater good” of everyone.  This is called collectivism.  Our country was founded on the premise of freedom and “individual” liberty, which allows you to choose your own destiny, as opposed to the government telling you what they will allow you to do.  If you think it is permissible for other human beings to control your destiny, then you have already surrendered your freedom.  I understand that your freedom and my freedom was given to us by God, not government, therefore, it is unconscionable to imagine that...

Common Good or Individual Freedom?...

Common Good or Individual Freedom?
I enjoy open dialogue with those who may not agree with me.  Engaging in a polite and respectful conversation, gives us the opportunity to understand the other person’s perspective and hopefully allows us to find some common ground.  I received the following comments and questions below, from fellow citizens on Facebook.  I believe the discussion is worth sharing with everyone. Citizen Commment I am familiar with what you are proposing to do in your position on this county commission.  You do not understand that you represent a broad spectrum of citizens in this county.  To remove environmental protections of county wetlands does not relate to the broad issues of private property rights as you claim.    Why won’t the board allow the wetlands referendum to be placed on the ballot? The First Amendment’s protections of free speech, press, assembly, and petition allows individuals the right to petition the government in order to express their views and ask for change. The decision to remove local protection regulations of the wetlands represents a small minority of county citizens and is in opposition to the will of the majority who are intended to prevail by the U. S. Constitution. Citizens who voted for you included majority and minority citizens. The minorities’ personal interests must sometimes give way to the common good. A referendum vote will clear up this issue. Please address my specific concerns as I have relayed them to you:)  Thank you. My Reply Thank you for your comments. ...

Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?...

Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
There are always at least two sides to every story.  Some people tend to focus on the negative side causing their decisions to be based on negative information.  I prefer to consider all sides of an issue to help me reach the best decision.  It’s easy to allow ourselves to be led down the negative path when it comes to our skepticism or distrust for Government and Politicians. Recently, you may have heard some folks in our county saying the State of Florida cannot, or will not, protect wetlands.  Nothing in Government is perfect.  Those who tend to lean toward the negative can certainly find examples of negative news that seems to support their agenda.  I believe the good people of Wakulla County deserve to know both sides of the wetlands issue.  If I tell you the State of Florida cares about preserving our wetlands without giving you specific positive examples, then you might think this is just my opinion.  As some of my opponents have accused, you might even think I am trying to deceive you.  My purpose in writing this letter, is to give you specific examples of just a few of the positive steps that the State has taken to preserve and protect wetlands.  I ask you to take a look for yourself.  After reading these examples, ask yourself these questions: If the State had no desire to protect wetlands, would they have taken these steps? If the State is adequately protecting wetlands, do we need additional layers of Government...

Honesty is the Best Policy!

Honesty is the Best Policy!
By now, you are probably well aware of the wetlands discussions that are currently taking place in Wakulla County.  I have worked very hard to educate myself about our local ordinance as well as the current State regulations.  I have shared my thoughts at every opportunity, including blog posts, Facebook, and letters to the Wakulla News.  I have spoken to fellow citizens and exchanged emails.  This past Tuesday night, I attended an educational forum that was sponsored by the Wakulla County Democrat Executive Committee.  I would like to thank everyone involved with organizing this event.  On that night, I went to the event to listen and learn.  I had no intention of speaking, as I assumed there would be one or more other Commissioners in attendance.  Since this was not a publically noticed meeting, Florida Sunshine Law prohibits Commissioners from speaking about any issue that may come before us. After more than an hour into the meeting, the wife of one of the panelists wanted me to answer questions.  I explained that I was unable to answer questions at this time because another Commissioner was present and this meeting was not publically noticed.  After being heckled for my refusal to break the law, I told the group, if they wanted to ask the other Commissioner to step outside, I would speak to them until they were tired of listening to me.  This occurred at 31:45 into the video labeled Wetlands Forum Part 2.  At the beginning...

Keep Wakulla County Beautiful Coastal Cleanup...

Keep Wakulla County Beautiful Coastal Cleanup
We had a great day cleaning our beautiful coastline.  I would like to say a big thank you to JoAnn Palmer for a successful cleanup today.  While many of us spent a couple hours in the heat today, JoAnn has spent a couple of weeks, or more, bringing everything together.  Job well done and thank you again for your service to our county! ...

Is Debt the Solution

Is Debt the Solution
So, the Federal Government is threatening to shut down if the debt ceiling is not raised.  What if you and I refused to go to work until our bank extend us a line of credit and our credit card companies raised our credit limit?  Isn’t it obvious that when we borrow more, we have to pay back more?  Are you ok with bearing a larger tax burden?  Do you find it offensive when members of Congress behave this...

CHAT Spa Day

CHAT Spa Day
Had a great time lending a hand at the CHAT spa day. Thank you to all of the volunteers who work tirelessly to care for and find homes for our furry friends. Thank you to everyone who brought their pups for the spa treatment. Your support is greatly appreciated!  If you are not already a friend of CHAT, visit them here.  That’s Bentlee Boo receiving VIP treatment.  He’s a celebrity at CHAT, even has his own Facebook page.  Check him out,...

Don’t be fooled, just because it sounds true...

Don’t be fooled, just because it sounds true
You may have heard lately that State regulations allow a property owner to build right up to a wetland, with a 0 ft. buffer. You may have heard someone ask, “What is wrong with 4 of our Commissioners and why would they allow this to happen?” You may have even asked that question yourself. When we hear such a statement that sounds true and is spoken with authority and conviction, it is easy to believe that it is true. Often times, there is more to the story. The person making the statement may not be intentionally trying to mislead us, maybe, he just doesn’t understand the whole truth. Here is the rest of the State buffer story. It is true that a 0 ft. buffer is possible under state regulations, however a 0ft. buffer is not possible when secondary impacts exist. Section 10.2.7 (a) of the DEP/NWFWMD Applicant’s Handbook states you will have a secondary impact if you cause “Adverse impacts to the functions of wetlands or other surface waters caused by construction or alteration.” I think we can all agree that building a house is considered “construction or alteration”. If the construction or alteration will cause an adverse impact, it is not permissible to build with a 0 ft. buffer. In fact, the State requires a buffer be established, with the average buffer being 25 feet wide. So the next time you hear someone say, removal of our local wetlands ordinance will allow...

Wetlands Will Still Be Protected...

Wetlands Will Still Be Protected
     At the last Board of County Commissioners meeting, I voted, along with 3 other Commissioners to eliminate the Wakulla County Ordinance that regulates wetlands.  I realize that few issues generate more passion than wetlands in Wakulla County.  On one side, you have those who believe that our current wetlands ordinance is the only means of protecting the fragile resources that exist in our county.  On the other side, you have those who believe that the ordinance is another layer of government regulation that is unnecessary and an assault to property rights.  Through this process, I have certainly heard all of the arguments on both sides and everywhere in between.  With every issue that comes before me, I do my very best to thoroughly understand all of the complexities involved with the issue.  Since I was elected, no issue has captured more of my time than this one.  I remember very clearly, the process that our prior Board went through when they adopted the current ordinance.  None the less, when this issue came forward, I started researching everything I could get my hands on, to make sure that I thoroughly understood the issue and would have the proper knowledge to make the best decision for our county, our natural resources, and our property rights.      Our current ordinance was adopted by the prior Board in 2010, after an extensive process that included input from a committee made up of citizens, environmental professionals, and attorneys. ...

Wakulla Wetlands: Education over Politics...

Wakulla Wetlands: Education over Politics
I have received many questions regarding my vote to repeal the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance.  This is a very complicated and confusing issue.  I believe our county is better served when we stick to the facts instead of politics.  I appreciate those on both sides of this issue, who seek to educate themselves about the facts.  Here are a couple of the best questions that I have received. Question: What percentage of wetlands will be left unprotected by removal of the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance? Answer: When the Wakulla Ordinance was adopted in 2010, the state did not regulate isolated wetlands in Wakulla County. At that time, our Water Management District was the only one (of 5) that did not regulate isolated wetlands, making those areas vulnerable and making the Wakulla Ordinance very much needed. State rules were changed after adoption of the Wakulla Ordinance. The state now regulates all wetlands, including all isolated wetlands. This was a big change for the protection of wetlands in Wakulla County. The percent of wetlands that will be left unprotected by removal of the Wakulla ordinance is 0%. Question: What does it mean that the state regulates all wetlands. Does that mean if I apply for a building permit, someone from the state (which agency NWFWMD, DEP?) comes down, delineates my property for wetlands, and applies some buffer protection to where I can/can’t build? Or do they have oversight responsibilities for building permits, land use changes, development plans? I am...

Community Comes Together to Stop Foreclosure...

I was invited to speak with Preston Scott on WFLA 100.7fm about Wakulla County’s plan to foreclose on properties with code enforcement liens. ...

Wakulla Wetlands

Please take a moment to let me know how you feel about the wetlands in Wakulla County. Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire...

G’day Mate!

G’day Mate!
This is another sign that is now non-conforming according to our new Sign Ordinance.  It is not tacky, cluttered, weathered nor in a state of dis-repair.  This company owns two gas stations in Wakulla County.  They contribute $9,336.09 annually to our local property taxes, including $4,653.23 to Wakulla County Schools.  In addition to property taxes, they also collect gas tax and sales tax that support the local services we expect from County Government, including road paving, public facilities, public safety, and parks and recreation.  Do you think telling these folks their sign doesn’t meet our community standards was the right thing to...

One Sign For You!

One Sign For You!
Here’s another example that I can’t wrap my mind around.  The new sign ordinance forbids more than one sign per parcel.  Is anyone bothered by Eden Springs having two signs?...

Not Allowed in Wakulla County?

Not Allowed in Wakulla County?
The new sign ordinance says only one roof sign is allowed on a building and it must be setback 3 feet from the edge of the roof.  Signs like this will now be non-conforming in most of Wakulla County.  The Cities of St. Marks and Sopchoppy are not required to follow the new ordinance, unless their Commission chooses to adopt the County’s Ordinance.  Do these signs cast our county in a negative light in any way?  What do you think about...

What’s wrong with this?

What’s wrong with this?
It’s easy to say, we need a sign ordinance to establish standards that are beneficial to our community.  It’s also very easy to take this too far, causing un-necessary burdens to small business who are creating jobs, paying taxes and serving our community.  This sign is now considered non-conforming because a new rule states that a sign can not utilize more than 20% of the wall.  Is this sign offensive to you?  Do you think it has any negative impact to our community?  What do you think about...

Sign of the Times?

On Monday June 3, 2013, I voted against an over-reaching sign ordinance that will now classify a large percentage of existing sign as “Non-Conforming”. If these signs ever become damaged greater than 50% of their value, they may not be replaced as they were, without approval of a special “case by case” waiver from the Board of County Commissioners. Watch this video to get a firsthand look at the process used to slowly erode your freedoms....

Wakulla Commissioners to take up Community Center issue...

Wakulla Commissioners to take up Community Center issue
Wakulla Commissioners to take up Community Center...

A Better Option for the Community Center...

I was recently asked, “What is the most important feature of a Community Center?”  I pondered the question for a brief moment then responded, “The answer is quite simple.  The most important feature is the Community itself.”  I’m guessing there must be hundreds or thousands of Community Centers across the Country.  I’m certain, none of them are the same, nor do they provide the same services to the community.  The success of a Community Center is not guaranteed by simply allowing an organization to duplicate its plan into our community. Why am I bringing this up?  As you read this, our county is rapidly heading toward allowing the YMCA to operate our Community Center.  If that is all you heard about this proposal, you might think that’s a great idea.  I think most of us can agree that the YMCA is a first class organization that brings value to the community.  The purpose of this letter is not to bash the YMCA, because I truly do respect the organization, but I feel compelled to make sure that our citizens are given the complete picture. Let’s start by discussing the proposed agreement with the YMCA.  Our Community Center was purchased with 1.4 million tax payer’s dollars.  We are currently in the process of spending nearly $400,000 to build a third building on the property.  By a 3 to 2 vote of the Board of County Commissioners, an additional $250,000 is proposed to be spent on...

Representing Wakulla in Tallahassee...

Representing Wakulla in Tallahassee
Today I attended a meeting at the Capital in Tallahassee representing Wakulla County on the Gulf Consortium’s 8 disproportionately affected counties’ committee.  We unanimously voted in support of amendments to Senate Bill 1024 that removed a previously approved amendment that would have allowed the State to control Restore Act Funds that should go directly to the 8 counties, by Federal...

Counties Worry About Restore Act Funds...

Counties Worry About Restore Act Funds
Today, I spoke to WCTV regarding an amendment to Senate Bill 1024 that would allow the State to take away local control of Restore Act...

Working to keep Restore Act Funds under local control...

Working to keep Restore Act Funds under local control
Near the end of the 2013 legislative session, an amendment to Senate Bill 1024 was submitted that would allow the State to control Federal funds that are supposed to go directly to Wakulla County and 7 other panhandle counties.  Along with the Florida Association of Counties and the Gulf Consortium, I spoke before the Senate Appropriations Committee and also contacted our Senator and Representative to make sure the Amendment was defeated.  The amendment was modified to remove all references to the Restore Act.  This was a victory for Wakulla County and for local...

Governor Rick Scott

Governor Rick Scott
I had the pleasure of meeting Governor Rick...

Will your property by affected by the FEMA Flood Map changes?...

Will your property by affected by the FEMA Flood Map changes?
FEMA and the Northwest Florida Water Management District have proposed changes to the flood maps in Wakulla County. To see if your property will be affected, click here ...

Children with Tobacco; Is that the Problem?...

Or is that a symptom of the problem? I recently voted to rescind an ordinance that limited the sale of tobacco in Wakulla County. It was referred to as a ban on candy flavored tobacco. When we hear the word candy, we automatically develop a mental picture of children. In truth, the ordinance went beyond candy and included a definition that actually prohibited the sale of all tobacco products that contain any natural or artificial flavor, with the exception of menthol. I’m not sure why menthol was excluded from the original ordinance. Is it less dangerous or less desirable to children? Do I think it is ok for children to use tobacco? Absolutely not! In fact, I am opposed to the use of tobacco by everyone, including adults. That is my personal belief, but I also believe that every adult should have the freedom to decide such matters for themselves. Across our great nation, there are groups of people who are so passionate about their choices that they have crossed the line and now want to force their choices onto you and me. Some communities have already banned the sale of fast foods, soft drinks above a certain size, and even the sale of natural milk. Some groups are calling for a ban on sugar, and salt. Where does it end? Do we really want the government making these choices for us? Back to the children. Our children are precious gifts from God. Their...

Public Service Tax

On Monday January 7, 2013, the Board of County Commissioners had an opportunity to eliminate the Public Service Tax paid by our citizens.  I am not opposed to reducing or eliminating this tax, however, I made the decision that I would not support this action, at this time.  I did not make this decision because I am now against reducing taxes.  I am very much in favor of reducing taxes and I am certain that I was elected because the majority of our citizens expect me to do so.  As a County Commissioner, I believe I have an obligation to gather and consider all of the facts before making decisions to allow me to fully understand the impact of those decisions and the cost that will be placed on our citizens. I don’t think I have ever met a single person who likes to pay taxes and I’m certain that no one wants their hard earned tax dollars wasted.  While none of us like paying taxes, almost everyone tells me they don’t mind paying their “fair share”.  I have spent a lot of time analyzing county taxes in an attempt to understand the best way to determine how much money is required for a tax payer to pay their fair share.  While each of us has different ideas of county services that are important to us, I think most of us can agree that the vast majority of tax payer’s dollars are spent on...