Time to free our city

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.


  1. Just think of all the tax money GNV residents would save if we didn’t need to support county functions in the rural areas!

    1. In truth, most of the budget is allocated within the city limits of Gainesville.
      They choose to make poor financial decisions, purchase of Biomass plant, taking over Main Street ownership, numerous “pocket” parks, selling out to developers are but a few. Don’t forget that although the county did not increase taxes during the current financial hardships brought on by the pandemic, city leaders instead chose to raise taxes.

  2. Great editorial. The easiest way to sum it up: Florida has 67 counties. If every time two groups within a county had a disagreement and the Legislature would allow one group to secede, Florida would have at least 1000 counties by now.

  3. The proponents of “Springs County”(sic) (SC) tell us “It is just like 1925 when Gilchrist County split off from Western Alachua County.” No, it is not. .
    Facts: In 1925 Alachua County had a salient bulge on the western edge that was very rural and very sparsely populated. The farmers there objected to a county proposal to end open range livestock grazing and require cattle fencing. Thus Gilchrist was split off into a new county. The move bought them about 20 years, as Florida outlawed open range grazing statewide in 1947.
    SC proponents have not told us yet if they propose a return to the good ole days of open range grazing in their new rural Utopia of “Springs County.” Folks need to know before they go to Rural King and waste their hard earned conservative dollars to buy more barbed wire.
    In 1925 the Gilchrist area had 11% of the Alachua County population. Gilchrist County started with 4000 residents, while remaining Alachua had 34,000 residents. (1930 census data.) Today Gilchrist has 18,500 residents, 7% of Alachua County’s 269,000. In 95 years Gilchrist has grown 450%, while Alachua has grown 780%.
    The SC proponents claim they want to create a RURAL county out of Western Alachua County, claiming without offering any proof that the “needs” of rural residents are not “properly represented” on the current Alachua County Commission. However SC wants everything west of 34th Street for their new “rural” county. This area contains over 55% of the population of Alachua County and 65% of the property tax base of the current county. The state requires “maintenance of equitable, stable, and similar tax base for parent and new county.” Oops, all the high value stuff is in “Springs County.”
    Proposed SC is not a small western rural area. SC is a steal of the majority of today’s Alachua County, being renamed “Springs County”, which then wants to forcibly eject the University, East Gainesville and the pine woods between Waldo and Hawthorne into New Alachua County. With 45% of the population and 35% of the tax base, New Alachua will be a poverty stricken Fiscally Constrained County under F.S. 218.67, requiring state welfare payments to survive. (Gilchrist County is today a Fiscally Constrained County. Taxes paid in Alachua County go to subsidize it. Thank you, Alachua County citizens.)
    Their proposed 34th Street split makes “Springs County” the Big Dog in population and wealth, and the more urban of the two new counties, while New Alachua County actually ends up a smaller population and more rural county than Springs. D’oh.
    Stop the Steal. Concerned Alachua County citizens must not let the SC movement steal and destroy all of existing Alachua County. It is time to call out this bull manure idea for what it is, before Rep. Chuck Clemons puts a bill before the Florida Legislature to utterly destroy the existing Alachua County.
    The Florida Legislature wrote a Local Government Formation Manual. For a new county, there is a long list of things to do, like prepare 5 year budgets for both new counties. SC proponents have done none of this stuff, just rhetoric “Trust Us, the numbers will work out, two county governments can be run for less tax dollars than one.”

    Click to access LGFM.pdf

    This Manual requires “maintain similarity in essential demographics between parent
    and new county;” A court will probably have to eventually rule if separating the rich white suburbs of West Gainesville from poor black East Gainesville is a civil rights violation. Oh snap, another chance for liberal judges to cancel culture the formation of a conservative rural Utopia.

  4. Well appears this blog does not post urls. This is not a url. 🙂

    aich tee tee pea colon slash slash ubwa ubwa ubwa period leg.state.fl.us/publications/2003/house/reports/local_bills/LGFM
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