Transparency

I have been thinking about this a lot. I have been online since 1994, when the Alachua Freenet first opened up it’s dial-up lines to Gainesville residents. I was user afn43269, and in a short time I was on USENET, engaging people in discussions about religion and politics and Dave Barry. When the Gainesville Sun first got online as Sunone.com, I participated on their lively message board from early in its existence as the user, DonTWC, which stands for Don the Window Cleaner. Even though I had a username, I have always been up front about who I was. I have never liked anonymous posting, because I think that your testimony loses power when you are not willing to put your name on it. This is not for everyone, but if you are an elected official, I think there should be a record of what you believe and what you stand for.

After I ran for the county commission in 2002, I started a web site that would allow candidates to get their message out for free. I would give any candidate for local elected office a platform to tell the voters whatever he or she wanted, with no limits on space or content. Sadly, very few have taken me up on it, and no incumbent has EVER posted on AlachuaVoterGuide.com. A few challengers have. Some ex-officials have. But it has been a source of extreme frustration for me that so few will go on the record on a site where they might get…GASP…comments from the public.

During the incendiary leadup to the vote on Amendment One last year, I was the only one to open discussion on the site. When people from around the world came to post comments accusing me of bigotry and hatred, I tried to engage them and find common ground. No other public figure had discussions like these that I have been able to find. No one takes comments and tries to have a civil discourse, AND puts his name on it!

I want you to know that as your Mayor, this will not change. I will still blog. I will still deal with your criticisms, comments, complaints, and suggestions in the same manner that I always have. For me, transparency is not a fad, or a novelty, or an undefined promise that can be fudged on later. It has been my life, and you deserve accountable, accessible leadership. Please vote for me March 16th.

My spot on the Bob Rose Show

My interview on the Bob Rose Show is available right here in mp3 format. Right click on it and save to download, or left click and wait for your media player to open it. It’s about 10 and a half minutes long. Of course, it you will join my Facebook fan page, you will see they have it on an inline streaming player where you just click a button and listen. Find that fan page link in the right sidebar.

A Great Article on Mass Transit

Former Gainesville City Commissioner Ed Braddy recently had this article published at New Geography. All local voters should read this to get the other side of the mass transit fantasy that many of our local officials have.

Essentially, policymakers need to see transit as a service with an important but limited role to play in most urban regions. With jobs and more activities spreading to the suburbs and exurbs – a process often accelerated by economically disruptive urban policies, cities should focus transit on a limited number of central core commuters as well as those people who cannot drive. Unfortunately, such goals are too modest for planners who envision transit as the catalyst for large scale social engineering and who have little concern for their regions’ economic bottom line.

Recently, county commissioner Mike Byerly shocked residents when they read this in the Gainesville Sun:

Byerly said that he believed too many road-widening projects intended to ease congestion remained in the county’s plans, and the only thing that could make the planned bus rapid transit system work was if traffic gridlock on area roads drove people out of their cars and onto buses.

Voters must be aware that our own local elected officials are trying to reduce our choices and funnel us into their hopes and dreams with OUR tax dollars. Read it here.

Will the church participate?

At some of my events and interviews I have said that it is important for the city to cultivate a working relationship with the churches because they are the city’s natural allies in confronting homelessness and other societal ills. I recently said that, as Mayor, I would go to the churches to tell them that they are welcome and that their participation is needed to make Gainesville a better place. Although I have not yet been challenged on this, I will anticipate and answer two potential questions in this space.

  1. Will churches respond to such a call? First, I want to tell you that this is not a setup. I have not held any meetings with pastors to formulate how they would respond to my election. My presumption upon their good works potential comes from my own three decades of ministry work as a volunteer. There are many people in the church who are motivated to feed, clothe and shelter the homeless, visit the sick and incarcerated, and mentor the fatherless. Some of that is already getting done at the expense of those who do the work. It is hard to say how much worse things would be if they weren’t. But I know they could do a lot more if it were not for the ambivalence of both church and civic leaders. The evolving ethos of “church-state separation” has created a hostile environment for people of faith who are told that their faith is not welcome. My opponent, City Commissioner Craig Lowe, has been quoted as saying, “ Our community cannot afford to discard any talent or intellect due to discrimination.” Yet, we discard the talent and intellect of a vast number of Gainesville residents. This must be actively challenged.
  2. Is it appropriate to do so? It is unjust to tell people, “You cannot participate as fully as anyone else in civic life and discourse because of the beliefs you hold.” A part of the American experience throughout history has been the need to demand the rights that you possess only on paper. It took almost 200 years for African Americans to begin to possess the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, and it did not happen because they waited patiently to be called on. It had to be demanded. Likewise, the men and women in our churches, who have become timid under the disapproving glare of the Statists who have come to power, must make their demand to be included. It will be much easier for them, however. All they have to do is vote on March 16. Then they have to follow through by living up to the things they believe in.

Do not confuse my call to action with a desire to Christianize the local government. I am just trying to desegregate it. Anyone should be able to take his faith, whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan or Atheist, with him into the service of his community. It’s also a good opportunity for us all to interact and learn from one another instead of isolating and writing each other off.

(Reprinted from Alachua Voter Guide)