LETTER: Just say 'no' to special treatment for special interests

Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 09:00 AM.

Commissioner Cindy Meadows is absolutely right on using the workshop process. This allows the public full access to the development of rules that apply to everyone. As with any ordinance a set of rules and procedures can usually be improved through a public workshop.

A statement reported in a local daily newspaper quoted hired spokesman Gary Shipman saying, “You can’t think outside the box in your workshop system.”

Obviously Mr. Shipman has very little experience with the workshop system in Walton County. They work very well indeed. Contrary to Shipman’s assertion public workshops, especially in South Walton, are heavily attended by the public and, believe you me, more often than not many folks do think outside the box and make no bones about it.

 If was very clear at the last BCC meeting when the WCSBA spokesman presented the idea the political wheels had been greased. However, the unexpected happened. Commissioner Meadows and a citizen advocate spoke about the committee composition. There was nothing presented by Shipman that was inclusive to the whole community, just special business interest.

While the Walton County Small Business Association may be a legitimate organization with their own interest, the question is should they attempt to impose their interest on the entire population by having special access to the Board of County Commissioners through a Blue Ribbon Committee? In my opinion the answer is absolutely not!  They can put forth their interest just like other organizations, small groups, and individuals in a public workshop.

Walton County does not need another sanctioned special interest committee. What we do need is a County Commission that will once and for all give credence to those public voices who have been speaking for years. Their alarm about congestion, traffic, parking, and development in general deserves a significant seat at the table of public opinion and the political process. The BCC can provide that opportunity in as many workshops as it takes to come to a reasonable solution.

J. B. Hillard is a DeFuniak Springs resident.

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