Listen, the only problem I have with Springs County is that the idea is so….oh I dunno…prosaic.
Been there, done that.
We already have 67 counties. What will 68 prove, except that we’re boringly repetitive?
And let’s be honest. Springs County advocates haven’t been fighting with Alachua County nearly as long as Gainesville has.
Their beefs go back years. Our city-county wars have ground on for decades.
Oh, and one more thing. What’s really got so many goats out in the rural hinterlands isn’t that Alachua County doesn’t represent them. It’s that too many county commissioners live in and around Gainesville….that being where the votes are.
Come on, Sen. Perry. Seriously, Rep. Clemons. Let’s try something new and daring.
Something that will make the rurals feel better and get Alachua County off Gainesville’s back to boot.
Instead of creating yet another cookie cutter county, let’s do something Florida has never done before.
Make Gainesville an independent city.
Yes, that really is a thing.
St. Louis is an independent city. Baltimore is an independent city. So is Carson City, Nev.
And the Commonwealth of Virginia is a hot bed of independent cities…also known as “free cities.’
Virginia has 38 of them, including Richmond, Roanoke, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach….and Charlottesville, home of Mr. Jefferson’s University of Virginia.
As per Wikipedia, an independent city “is a city that is not in the territory of any county or counties…Independent cities are classified by the United States Census Bureau as ‘county equivalents…”
So let’s make Gainesville its own county and give everybody outside city limits the freedom they crave. That would include the long-suffering folks of Hawthorne and Waldo, who shouldn’t be left out just because they happen to be east rather than west of Gainesville.
And why not Gainesville?
Cities are supposed to be democracy’s laboratory of ideas. And given our strategic partnership with the University of Florida, we are intellectually equipped to make the most of independent status.
Lord knows what we could come up with in the Innovation-in-Government Dept. It could be revolutionary.
Heck, cities all over Florida would be watching us do our stuff.
Why, it could be the beginning of a Florida city-state renaissance.
So do I expect the Legislature to make Gainesville an independent city? No.
On the other hand, I don’t expect it to create Springs County either. Hasn’t been done in nearly a century and isn’t likely to happen now.
This is just a way for messers Perry and Clemons to pander to their base while piling even more insult upon Gainesville. That’s their hobby, and they do it very well.
So why even bring it up? Because we’re losing the propaganda wars, Gainesville.
We’re quietly sitting while the Springs County people garner all the publicity.
Why concede the court of public opinion? We can play the “What If” game too.
That’s why, today, I am announcing the formation of the Free GNV Coalition.
We will start small. Just me and Don Quixote.
But this is a movement whose time has come. The Big Mo is ours for the grasping.
First, we’re going to open our Free GNV Welcome Center at First Mag. (I would do it at Swamphead, but, you know, that’s west of 34th street.)
We will have Free GNV pep rallies. Free GNV bake sales. Free GNV guzzle-offs (hey, it’s First Mag, right?)
We will send out press releases. We will load up buses with hippies, drunken frat boys, socialists, liberals and city commissioners (not to be redundant) and march on Tallahassee.
We will milk the PR cow till it runs dry. Maybe we can even get endorsements from the Kyles. Or the ole’ head ball coach.
And ours will be a rainbow coalition: Reds, blues, greens, pinks…we don’t care the hue, just what you do.
Seriously, Gainesville, what’s the point of even having a Springs County movement if we can’t make fun of it.
And we’ve got plenty of ammo. The population base. The tax base. The really cool breweries. The 4th Avenue Food Park.
Yeah, Newberry’s got that equestrian thing. But we have Depot Park.
Horses don’t vote, Gators do.
Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good campaign slogan.
And, listen, once you have a slogan, the battle’s basically over.