How the BCC and our own electorate failed us in this bridge boondoggle

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 05:05 PM.

The other Panhandle counties get a billion dollars or so for road and bridge construction, no taxes and no tolls required, but Walton County gets the shaft? How did this come to pass, who is responsible for this debacle, what can we do about it now, and how can we avoid such a failure in future?

Secretary Prasad, at the meeting last year during which he told Walton's representatives that all new roads and bridges in Florida henceforth were going to be built with either tolls or local taxes, delivered an ultimatum — pick a tax or toll or the money goes away and widening 331 to I-10 would otherwise be kicked back to the haziness of maybe someday. 2035 was mentioned.

He further stated that the state was ready to start turning dirt on the bridge Oct. 1 of last year if Walton Countians accepted either tax or toll. I was sitting beside him when he made that statement, and two other members of our Board, Bonnie McQuiston and J.B. Hillard, were at the table seated across from him. The check is in the mail, I'm from the government and — well, you know the rest.

I learned three days ago from a fellow WCTA Board member who attended a Walton Chamber of Commerce luncheon around the inception of the back and forth with the state on the bridge that the guest speakers at that luncheon were Sen. Don Gaetz, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Rep. Marti Coley.

The emcee tried to recognize the members of the Walton BCC there that day, asking them to stand. Embarrassingly, not a one of them was present. Their absence was noted by the guest speakers. As some of those negligently absent discovered, elections have consequences, and as we continue to discover, those other consequences haunt us today and will for years to come. Outrageous!

There is outrage to spare, but where should it be directed? At Secretary Prasad? At Gov. Scott? At our elected representatives in Tallahassee? At our prior BCC members? At the people enabling, encouraging and profiting from them?

Or should we be most outraged over the huge majority of residents who couldn't be bothered to vote? Pogo had it right. We have met the enemy and it is us, a disinterested electorate. Disinterested until outrages such as this are exposed, that is.



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