Gainesville’s strong compact

I love this town.

I know, I’ve been saying that for years. But I’ve never been more enamored of Gainesville than I am right now, in the wake of this otherwise dismal election. 

Yes, Florida went red (we think). Floridians elected Rick Scott (probably) despite his filthy legacy of algae green lakes and rivers and red tides. They went with a Trump puppet for governor because, I suppose, the Democrat looked too much like Obama (if you catch my drift).

Which is a shame because Andrew Gillum had the very best basic training imaginable for the office. 

He is a mayor. Mayors can do almost anything. They pretty much have to.

But never mind all that. It isn’t because Gainesville came in reliably blue that I’m singing its praises. That’s just Gainesville being Gainesville.

No, it’s because the social compact that binds us together as a community remains strong and resilient.

The phony siren’s song that we can have it all without paying for it may seduce a lot of voters. But not in this town. 

We have an obligation to our children. So voters in this county decided by a nearly 70 percent margin to impose a half-mill property tax on themselves to fund the Children’s Trust initiative. 

Our schools are falling apart. And so, while federal and state officials keep marginalizing public education, we local voters enacted a half cent sales tax to rebuild and modernize our classrooms.

Because if not us, then who?

And it’s not just that we’re willing to tax ourselves for the greater good. 

Gainesville voters refused to swallow whole the lies and false promises made by Keith Perry, the Chamber of Commerce and other backers of an initiative to separate Gainesville GRU-owners from direct control of their public utility.

We are nobody’s fools. We didn’t just say “no.” By a nearly 67 percent margin we said “Hell No!.”

But neither are we bereft of trust in our local democratic institutions.

The essence of the “independent” GRU board argument was that we can’t trust city government to make our decisions for us. Not only did we reject that nonsense, but we went one better.

By a 70 percent margin we approved a landmark city election reform measure that will give commissioners more time in office, increase voter turnout and ultimately broaden civic participation in municipal affairs.

Oh yeah, and save tax dollars.

Is this a great town or what? We aren’t fooled by politicians that do not have our best interests at heart. We insist on home rule. We won’t be deprived of our ability to hold the elected officials closest to us accountable. And we trust those officials enough to give them more leeway to make better decisions. 

Be proud, Gainesville. Call yourself progressives. Call yourselves liberals. Hell, just call yourselves “common sense,” voters, to borrow a meme that seemed popular with Republicans this year. 

You are Gainesville. You vote. And you do so well and intelligently. 

I love this town. 

Author: floridavelocipede

A sometime journalist who used to string words together for a living before I retired to run a non-profit cycle touring organization that will henceforth go unnamed, as I have subsequently retired from that career as well. I write a bi-monthly column, theater reviews and an occasional magazine piece for my old newspaper. If I still had a business card it would read: Ron Cunningham: Trained Observer Of The Human Condition. Because like The Donald, you know, ego.

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