Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Swiftmud hunting decision is politics by the people, this time

Democracy — flawed, repetitious democracy — worked pretty well at the Southwest Florida Water Management District board meeting Tuesday.

People wanting more hunting on Swiftmud land, and those who wanted to keep things just the way they are, got three hours to speak their minds.

Some of them showed zero understanding of the opposing point of view. Some of them talked only about their literal and figurative back yards. Nearly all of them made a point that had been made or would be made by somebody else.

In the end, the board voted to continue to forbid hunting on two pieces of property and to allow slightly more on two others — the Weekiwachee Preserve in Hernando County and land around Lake Panasoffkee in Sumter County.

I don't care for the idea of bow hunters stalking deer in the preserve's best bear habitat during denning season. I'd feel more comfortable if Swiftmud or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which will run the hunts, had demonstrated they have the staff and the will to make sure hunters don't endanger the handful of surviving bears in the coastal population.

But, overall, it seemed like a reasonable compromise, and maybe even a triumph for accountability to the public.

This issue came up because one group of residents, the hunters, wanted more access to land bought with their taxes.

The Swiftmud staff and board considered it, but only after taking many emails, phone calls and, on Tuesday, public comments from birders, hikers and horseback riders.

We've all seen this same basic process — pro, con, compromise — repeated many times at city council and county commission meetings.

So, what's the big deal?

Well, this board previously hadn't seemed especially worried about either environmental protection or — considering that it disbanded its basin boards, the People's Court of resource management — accessibility to the public.

Maybe some board members saw this vote as a chance to change that impression. Maybe it was calculated.

No matter.

It still showed they were listening — that people in the district know how to get a hold of them, and do.

"I got a lot of phone calls on this," said longtime board member Judy Whitehead, who has run a real estate appraisal office in Brooksville for decades. "We're not insulated."

That's the strange thing here.

Board members, who aren't elected, acted as though they are, at least in this case. Most lawmakers, who obviously are elected, don't, at least when they cast their votes. They're too busy being told what to do by party leaders and donors.

Which brings us to SB 1986, which easily passed the state Senate last week. It has changed a good deal since I wrote about it previously. Gov. Rick Scott has proposed some further amendments, and the House declined to support it.

But it's still alive and still increases the Legislature's power over water management districts' budgets and policy, which given what has been going on this year is not an appealing thought.

Maybe this hasn't been the worst legislative session ever. Maybe there hasn't been more arrogance and bullying. But there sure has been a bunch of it. And not much of what I'd call democracy.

Swiftmud hunting decision is politics by the people, this time 03/01/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 3:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Joe Henderson: Other good works can't balance theft from vulnerable victims

    Columns

    What price can you put on your good name?

    This renovated group home once was operated by HARC. The group's former CEO Richard Lilliston was credited with raising millions for the agency but has been sentenced to prison for stealing Social Security from clients with developmental disabilities. [Times file]
  2. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986

    College

    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  3. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings

    Bucs

    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  4. Review: More than 20 years later, 'RENT' still matters

    Stage

    TAMPA — Two decades after Rent shook up Broadway with a starkly joyous musical that demanded to be recognized, a nostalgic tour is taking audiences back.

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  5. Dennis Miller, headed to Tampa with Bill O'Reilly: 'We don't know each other that well'

    Events

    Dennis Miller often gets cast as the odd comic out these days.

    Dennis Miller will perform with Bill O'Reilly at the Spin Stops Here Tour at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [Spuffy Productions]