About Me

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He started his career in the family real estate and hotel business in Florida from which his concern for the environment steered him in public life. He has served six Florida governors and two presidents in many positions, including terms as chairman of the Florida Department of Air and Water Pollution Control, and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Beyond his government service, he helped found 1000 Friends of Florida and has served as both president and chairman of the board of the organization. He currently or has served on the boards of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Geographic Society, Yellowstone National Park, Everglades Foundation and Hope Rural School.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yellowstone Foundation’s Annual Dinner

Speech Given By Nathaniel P. Reed
for the Yellowstone Foundation’s Annual Dinner
on October 2, 2009

Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, you are the consummate manger, diplomat and steward of Yellowstone National Park: the Mother Park!

Chairman Bannis Hudson, President Paul Zambernardi, staff members of the Foundation and members of the staff of the park: Alita and I are honored to be here with you. It is for both of us a return to paradise. The Foundation’s beginnings are worth a few minutes of memories….

My great friend, John Good, then the park’s chief naturalist, came up with the idea that a foundation differing from the Yellowstone Association could make a significant difference funding projects that the Congressional Appropriations process neglected. John persuaded Superintendent Anderson to attract a bevy of very serious scientists to come and work in the park. John became superintendent at Acadia and Everglades National Parks rounding out a distinguished career.

We all owe then Superintendent Michael Finley a vote of thanks for having the foresight, courage and ability to attract the original group of ‘true believes’ to discuss the proposal, agree to proceed and then come to our first meeting in mid November to create the Yellowstone Foundation.

I vividly remember trying to get to our meeting room avoiding a great elk bull who was still feeling his oats.

Frankly, it never crossed my mind then and I find it hard to believe now, how committed our original group was to the concept, but our successors and you – the present board – have lifted the bar and raised an incredible amount of money for a vast variety of pressing needs.

The fires and the snow storm prevented Alita and I from seeing the Old Faithful Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Education Center has been a dream – an elusive dream – for more than 60 years. We share your pride and incredible sense of accomplishment to have raised the necessary funds and agreed on the architecture that will lead to the opening of the center next fall.

I tingle with joy and pride when I contemplate the reactions of millions of undereducated visitors who will visit the center for many years to come and come away with a sense of wonder and excitement that led the early Yellowstone adventurers to clamor for the creation of the world’s first national park.

Thanks, boundless thanks, go to the corporations, foundations, incredible personal donations and the countless donors of small gifts who wanted to be participants in this great donation to the park and to its visitors.

I hope to be with you when the doors open!

To each of you, board members and staff, boundless thanks. You are doing ‘God’s work’!

The creation of Yellowstone National Park, the Mother Park, has had an incredible influence across the globe. On every continent and in almost every country citizens can take pride in special areas, unique, magical areas that are their parks to be protected and preserved for all time. What a magnificent legacy!

I came to this park as a teenager and have returned many times to fish, to gaze, and to hold special seminars and symposiums.

I am going to recount just a very few of my vast quiver of memories.

I have always been fascinated by natural science research. In rethinking the park service’s commitment to sound science influencing all decisions, I pay homage to Dr. Starker Leopold, the great ecologist from the University of California-Berkley who had chaired a pair of very important committees: The Leopold Report published in 1963, which in turn led to the 1968 National Park Advisory Committee’s Report, which he chaired, that strongly recommended and continued to encourage the National Park Service to initiate serious science within the National Park System.

Remember, these were the days when the superintendents of major parks considered themselves masters of their fiefdoms. They were not anxious to have major and even minor decisions reviewed by bright young scientists, especially those with master’s degrees and more especially those with PhD’s and above all those who had PhD’s that were women!

Starker was determined that neither report was going to be ‘lost’ on the shelves of park service headquarters. He stubbornly persisted until slowly, ever so slowly, the Washington office and then even slower the regional offices and even slower the major park superintendents responded until the format, the base of a sound science program became a feature of the park service budget process, but a real impact on decision making within the individual parks.

It was John Good who vigorously supported the beginning of the research program in Yellowstone centering on the USGS study program.

John persuaded Jack Anderson, the legendary superintendent, to attract a bevy of very serious scientists to come and work in the park.

There are numerous men and women of multidisciplines that have studied every aspect of the park’s resources. I will mention a few, who I had the honor to know, support and who became great friends.

One of the key figures in the history of the park's research must be Glenn Cole’s role as the supervisory scientist who selected the expertise of particular scientists for the particular problems for four major parks: Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain.

Glenn selected Doug Houston to work on the Yellowstone northern range. It was a monumental job that took years of research. Doug was a truly great ecologist, before that description was fully understood; his monumental work won him the Wildlife Society’s Award in 1983.

Glen couldn’t resist an elk study of his own. He selected the unique Firehole elk herd and in his spare time produced a splendid study of lasting value.

One of Starker's prize PhD students, Dr. Mary Meagher, spent her career here studying bison, and brucellosis and took an interest in every aspect of the park's science program. I have spent many days with Mary who has opened my eyes to a world that I knew too little about. A walk with Mary is a rare treat. Best of all was a walk or dinner with Starker and Mary, Durward Allen and Woodrow Middlekrauff. Their observations, insights, their ability to contemplate the whole scene, not just the problems of individual animal populations or botanical impacts, theirs was a wider view – a wider horizon – the horizon of the ecology beyond the individual expertise of a particular subject.

We discussed Durward Allen’s and Starker’s dreams of returning the wolf to Yellowstone.

Thank you Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the National Park System.

The famed Dr. E.O. Wilson summed up their ability to comprehend and rationally discuss the ‘big picture’ when he challenged: “How can you study ecosystems and know what is happening in them IF you don’t know what’s in them? It is sort of taking medicine without knowing 90% of what’s in the body”.

It was in this period within Yellowstone National Park that science spread to other parks – sort of like a healthy virus. I know of many superintendents who watched with dumbfoundment and even amazement as the Yellowstone program expanded and attracted a cadre of expert scientists.

Starker admitted that he had telephone calls from superintendents all across the system requesting advice and assistance in establishing a science program within their park’s jurisdiction.

I was adamantly supportive of the increased science budgets at OMB and before the Congressional Appropriations Committees. This was ‘new business’ for them. Beyond curiosity, they became convinced that we were on the right track and appropriations began to catch up with needs.

Today, here in Yellowstone National Park, note the expertise that Tom Olliff has attracted: Kerry Gunther and his continuing bear research, Rick Wallen’s important continuation of Dr. Meagher’s bison studies and the incomparable Doug Smith and his wolf team.

Yesterday I met Todd Koel and Pat Bigelow at the lake discussing the incredible transformation of one of the world’s greatest trout fisheries, the home of the most productive Yellowstone cutthroat trout resource that is threatened with destruction unless a surge – a major effort is made to dramatically reduce the numbers of the invasive lake trout. This may be the most threatened resource in the park.

I urge the Foundation’s leadership to receive the briefing we were privileged to watch yesterday and consider making a grant that would encourage other grants to save this all important life form. It is threatened with extinction unless a major effort is made to remove or dramatically reduce the unwelcome predators.

Let me share an impression, no, a real conviction that has grown on me over the 60 years that I have visited national parks here and abroad.

Standing with dozens of fellow citizens – and visitors from many counties – we knew none of them and they did not know us – watching the wolves, the bison herds, the big horn sheep, and the ageless choreography of the elk mating sequence, it’s the vast enthusiasms of the park visitors. They become participants. They are thoroughly, completely captivated and engaged. They are transformed. Their experiences, many of them as urban people are new and unforgettable. This too must be a vital mission of the service, as important as the preservation of the unique features of the unique park.

I spent a long session with Charissa Reid giving an oral history of my years of service and the traumatic conclusion of the Craighead grizzly bear study. Let me make it clear: the Craighead Study utilizing radio collars and telemetry was a major scientific breakthrough. Their innovative work is copied around the world.

What must be made clear is that their Yellowstone grizzly bear study, brilliant as it was, centered on bears that were conditioned on human garbage. They studied garbage dump bears.

The dumps had been closed just before my confirmation and trouble was expected and I was ill-prepared for the resulting furor that I inherited.

I spent a long session with Charissa Reid giving an oral history discussing the controversial conclusion of the Craighead’s grizzly bear studies in Yellowstone National Park.

Simply stated: I followed the advice of two great ecologists: former Assistant Secretary Stanley Cain of the University of Michigan and Starker Leopold who both assured me that once a grizzly bear was deliberately fed human garbage, it was hooked just as a heroin user is hooked. They maintained that there was no way that grizzly’s could be weaned from garbage and that I had the unfortunate duty to accept the fact that a great many bears would die or be euthanized or sent to zoos as the full impact of the closure of the garbage dumps was felt.

Of the many decisions that I made in my five plus years in office, the grizzly bear saga weighed on me, troubled me even frightened me more than any other of the hundreds of decisions I made.

The grizzly bear saga became national news as critics claimed that dump closure would be the nail in the grizzly bears coffin.

To be accused of causing the extinction of the great bear when I was one of the authors of the Endangered Species Act and the representative of the Nixon administration who ushered the Act through multiple congressional hearings to passage, frankly, the criticism that was heaped on me hurt. I cried when young bears had to be put down, but I was confident that good research proved that there were a population of wild grizzly’s that were not addicted to garbage that would, in time, follow one of the maxims of nature: ‘the power of replacement’. This is a natural force that is indisputable.

Secretary Morton and the two secretaries that followed him all asked me one simple question: “Are you right?” Recognizing that good science can always be trumpeted by bad politics, I never wavered. “I am following the best science and although it is tough sledding, we will live to see the great bear thrive once again.”

They never questioned me again, never rear-guarded my decision, defended me and the park from outrageous charges that we collectively were on a course to extirpate the great bear.

Although I left office before the incredible turn around fully took place, successive superintendents kept me intimately posted with the good news of the bear’s recovery.

Credit goes to Dr. Richard Knight for his incomparable work on free-ranging grizzly bears and Christopher Serveen who created and chaired the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Regardless of the recent judicial decision, returning the bear to threatened status, the 600 plus bears presently filling all the niches of the vast Yellowstone ecosystem – none of them addicted to garbage – prove that sound science and patience can make a meaningful difference in a creature’s survival.

Here at Mammoth for five plus years Starker and I chaired informal meetings – we called them conversations – that attracted working biologists across the country, from Canada, even from abroad, who wanted to listen and take part in responding to fascinating reports on seemingly intractable ecological, environmental problems.

The results have had a major formable impact on wild trout management across the west.

An unforgettable memory: a call to join President Ford at the Oval Office. He asked, “Nathaniel: find me the summer employees who worked with me in the park. It was one of the finest experiences of my life. I want them to be my guests at a private hamburger lunch set up in a grove of trees near Old Faithful. I am going to give a thumping good speech on my commitment to the System, the Service and reflect on my happy days working in Yellowstone. I want you to prepare a good speech with some real money and manpower increases for the Service and I’ll send it as a message to Congress!”

What a joyful assignment!

I asked the director’s staff to locate the living members of the President’s work crew. Somehow they were reached and couldn’t wait for a reunion with the president.

There were endless meetings at the Old Executive Building with presidential policy staff and as always meetings at OMB discussing budgeting impacts and close coordination with the Secret Service. It was campaign time so the public relations advance staff and the campaign staff became involved. Besides the meat of the speech, the key campaign impact was for Old Faithful to blow just as the president finished his address. He was to turn on the podium and Old Faithful would live up to it’s name.

I had the assignment to call Jack and inquire: “What day in late July or early August can you assure me that Old Faithful will blow at approximately 11:15 to 11:20am?” Even Jack was flustered with such a request.

A week later the date was set. One of the advance men said to me: “Your neck is on the line if that damn geyser doesn’t behave on schedule!”

At one of my early meetings with the president discussing his options he stated quietly but firmly: “Don’t let Dick Cheney have anything to do with ‘my day’!”

The event was a great success. The president’s speech was outstanding. Old Faithful performed 10 seconds after the conclusion of the president’s speech. The ever suspicious press corps was certain that we had spiked the vent with chemicals to have it blow on schedule.

So many memories flicker back, good memories, even during the inevitable great fire and the opportunity to observe the resurrection of the park post fire.

I think of the many concerned members of the loyal service staff, so many fascinated visitors, and the many problems that challenged good solutions. They all form a wonderful mosaic. I think I am one of the luckiest men alive that ever had the privilege of serving at one of the most important periods of national environmental awakening. It was a different time, a far different Congress and the commitment of the American people to preserve, protect and enhance our natural resources was similar to the Teddy Roosevelt era.

I want to especially thank Alita Reed who has never wavered in supporting and even consoling me during difficult times and sharing a quiet smile when we shared those victories that make life really worth while.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the board and staff of the Yellowstone Foundation, Superintendent Lewis and the members of the National Park Service staff and friends of Yellowstone: You are stewards of Yellowstone National Park: the world's Mother Park.

Stewardship is defined by Webster as: “The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.”

All of you: be proud to be stewards of Yellowstone National Park, an example of the very best of America and Americans.

I am reminded of Margaret Mead’s pertinent observation: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!”

You are fitting examples of Margaret Mead’s thoughtful and accurate conclusion.

Thank you for the honor of being invited to come home to this very special unique park and address you.


Blake Library – Stuart, Florida
October 26, 2009
Remarks by Nathaniel P. Reed

Before I began to address the merits - and demerits – of the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment, I would like to take a few minutes to share an important personal perception of Florida. It’s a conclusion I’ve developed after 40 plus years of active involvement in Florida government, and one that shapes my view of the issues before us today.

All of you sitting here this evening know that Florida is in dire economic conditions, and far from recovery. Three days ago the Palm Beach Post reported that Palm Beach County anticipates a shortfall of ANOTHER $170 MILLION next year. Having raided their rainy-day fund for last year’s budget, and drastically cut many programs, they now face the specter of even less revenue income and even harder choices of how to balance income and obligations. How did Florida get here? Part of the answer is that we’ve all – whether Floridians, Carolinians, Californians: all of our countries’ citizens - been victims of gross financial mismanagement on a national scale as Wall Street greed trumped any sense of ethical behavior or sound financial management. But Florida is also suffering greatly from self-inflicted wounds, aggravated by the national economic collapse.

I would argue that much of our current dilemma is due to the fact that Florida has always been the ultimate ‘pyramid scheme’. Madoff may be the momentary title-holder, but Florida has actually been playing the Ponzi game far longer. The essential Ponzi premise is that as long as you can continually recruit new suckers to pay back the existing club members – you’ll be okay. This pretty much sums up the management strategy of Florida over my 40 plus years of observation and participation. I would invite you all to name one public program in Florida – transportation, education, public health, environmental resource management, where we have actually put the cost of meeting the immediate needs upon the immediate population. Florida’s history has been to expect that future growth will cover the cost of the current needs – next year’s new taxpayers will get the bill for existing infrastructure deficiencies – and their new demands will in turn be paid, not in full by them, but by their successors.

We’ve marketed ourselves as a low-tax, low-cost retirement haven. We have further convoluted the scheme with an absolutely archaic tax scheme, full of exemptions intended to provide short-term growth incentives, but with higher future costs – which will supposedly be covered by distributing those costs over a larger taxpayer base in the future.

Florida, from her very beginning, has embraced ‘growth’ -with almost no limits, as a mantra. Now we are falling victim to the downside; if we don’t keep growing, the pyramid can’t be sustained.

The Palm Beach Post - most appropriately in their 2009 New Years Day editorial – summarized brilliantly our past, and possible future: “For decades Florida and the officials running the state, counties, and towns have perpetrated the myth that growth will pay for itself and provide a prosperous lifestyle for everyone who buys into the myth. With special tax breaks for long-time residents, the expectation that an ever-increasing supply of newcomers, snowbirds and tourists would pay most of the bills was as enticing a Ponzi scheme as any that Bernard Madoff promised. Now, Florida’s growth scheme has collapsed. The growth myth should collapse along with it. Yes, the real estate market will come back – let’s hope in a more rational form. But unbridled growth never again should be seen as Florida’s perpetual money machine.”

Let’s look back at the recent history of growth management efforts. After the passage of the 1972 Land and Water Management Act, it became clear that land development specifically needed attention, and in 1975 the adoption of the Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act was adopted. Although this legislation laid a solid foundation for mandatory statewide comprehensive land use planning, the state’s oversight role was only advisory. A series of events, including rapid population growth and growing complaints about actual implementation led to the adoption of the 1984 State and Regional Planning Act and the 1985 Growth Management Act, which revised many aspects of the earlier 1975 law but gave the Department of Community Affairs – DCA- veto authority over local plans and amendments. In 1992, further changes to growth management laws, including the repeal of regional planning council veto authority over Developments of Regional Impact were adopted.

The years of Governor Jeb Bush led to great discontent within the environmental community regarding growth management. There was a distinct change of emphasis that stressed ‘cooperation’ and ‘alternative, marketplace solutions’ versus what some perceived as strict adherence to the law as written. Several unsuccessful attempts were made in the Legislature to weaken DRI and comprehensive planning requirements during this period. Rather than confront the large public and institutional support for growth management controls, the budgetary process has become the tool to curtail growth management.

In the early 1990’s - during the height of DCA’s efforts to implement the 1985 law - it had a staff of more than seventy professionals, two field offices, and three separate divisions. By the end of the Bush administration, the field offices were gone, one division had been reassigned to the Governor’s Office, and fewer than thirty professionals remain.

Over the past ten years, the mission and responsibilities of the DCA have been continually reduced until we’ve reached the point where, even according to current DCA Secretary Tom Pelham, the agency is barely able to fulfill its statutory mission.

Traditionally, when the economy has faltered, we’ve looked at incentives such as tax breaks, or the relaxation of governmental restrictions (look at President Bush’s proposals regarding air and water quality standards), to jumpstart the money machine. Some of the same interests who gave us the current market glut, today again raise the argument that they need unbridled freedom to respond to ‘market conditions’, that the ‘planning process’ takes too long, and that it will impede economic recovery. Private landowners who still believe that unrestricted property rights are a divine right will certainly join in any opportunity to eliminate growth management programs.

I think that all the discussions need to face the fact that sound development policy must be sound both economically and environmentally – or we’re just once again pawning the true costs into the future - with compounded interest!

The current economic catastrophe has placed us squarely at the crossroads of Ponzi Place and Sustainable Avenue. Despite all the voices saying we need to change direction, it remains to be seen if we will, or whether we will try to characterize the current situation as a ‘perfect storm’ that will never happen again once we just get going fast again – and try to make it back to ‘business as usual’.

We somewhat adopted the catchphrase ‘smart growth’ to imply greener, more sustainable efforts. It’s been perhaps most accurately considered a desirable ‘goal’.

I would argue that any growth that doesn’t pay for itself isn’t smart at all!

And unfortunately the current economic situation most local government’s face is that even when new development pays its fair share, the local government doesn’t have enough money to pay its share.

We can’t keep growing at the speed of light forever, why not slow down now and adopt truly sustainable policies? The challenge, of course, is that we’ve looked to the Ponzi float from new projects to keep us afloat for the moment. To abandon that economic model will require developing alternative revenue sources, many of which probably begin with a ‘T’.

The proponents of Hometown Democracy ask very reasonable questions and make critical observations that frankly ‘pain’ all of us that love this state and who have worked to keep it from becoming another example of the mish-mash of southern California.

I share their discontent and disillusionment. One only has to drive south down I-95, or the Florida turnpike, or drive north from Marco Island to Sarasota to be stunned by the amount of development- so much of it ill-conceived, ugly and out of place.

How could ‘we’- a collective ‘we’ ever allowed two of the most magnificent areas of shoreline Florida to become such broad strips of second rate development?

Faced with the realities of what damage has been accomplished during a period when our exalted growth management act was in force, it is fair to seek any potential solution to halt the run-away train of senseless, over-development.

So, having laid out my personal perceptions of where we are, and how we got here, let’s turn to the issue at hand: Where do we go from here? The Florida Hometown Democracy amendment has been proposed in an attempt to address what most of us perceive as a crisis. It proposes that we take a new path from the cross-roads.

Like any proposal, it has both strengths and weaknesses – absolutely nothing in government is ever perfect – and I don’t want to stand here today and try to tell you that this proposal is perfect. What I would like to do is share with you the key arguments in support of the proposal – the ‘pros’, and arguments against the proposal, the ‘cons’ such that you might have a better sense of the issues in this very, very, complex debate.

My reasons to support the Hometown Democracy Amendment include:

1) Failure of Local Government Efforts - We have collectively lost trust in our local governments and our elected officials not only to implement sound comprehensive plans, but to enforce them. Far too often development interests have persuaded elected officials to negate or modify comprehensive plans with decisions that are contrary to the public good. These are described as ‘gifts’ to a particular developer who may have had made significant campaign contributions.

A search of the files indicates far too many publicly elected officials - county and city commissioners - are residing in state and federal prisons as we gather here tonight. Palm Beach County has earned the moniker ‘Corruption County’ for the shady dealings that have recently jailed several commissioners. What is the most common denominator in their activities; special favors of land/development deals!

We have lost faith in our elected official’s ability to govern fairly and honestly!

What a terrible legacy!

2) Continued Failure of the Florida Legislature - The Florida legislature has been bombarded by the developers and their seeming unending supply of campaign contributions. Since 1985 the legislature has steadily weakened growth management programs with either exceptions or outright changes sought by developers. Look at the prosecution of Representative Samson for promoting an unbudgeted campus building that just coincidently fit the needs of a crony who wanted a place to store his aircraft!

Incredibly, the current legislature and its leadership have openly resented and resisted Secretary Pelham’s determination to enforce what remains of our once highly acclaimed growth management laws. They have zeroed out the most popular program of land acquisition in our state’s history and the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

3) Loss of the Public Voice - Although the Growth Management Act is supposed to encourage effective public involvement throughout the planning process, citizens are frequently ignored or belittled when they attempt to participate. The usual ‘extent’ of testimony allowed at public hearings statewide is three minutes. Any citizen’s legal challenge to an approved amendment is expensive, the ‘fairly debatable’ test is practically impossible to overcome.

The deck has been carefully stacked against any appeals of poorly conceived decisions at DCA or at the local scene.

4) Public Awareness - The strongest case for the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment is a return to citizen participation. Our voices would be heard, heard loud and clear: a form of democracy that this state has not been a party to for too many years.

Citizens throughout Florida experience first hand every day the shortcomings of the current process. Even when schools are overcrowded, roads are increasingly congested, water supplies become limited, their governments continue to approve plan amendments that authorize even more development.

Although the media usually points out the deficiencies and the editorial boards and the Op/Ed pieces boldly produce forthright criticism of local governments’ foolishness, the public seems zoned out.

The Growth Management Act did not intend constant comprehensive plan changes. Supporters of FHD believe that once Amendment 4 is in the Florida constitution, the number of speculative plan change requests will drop significantly because developers will know that their proposal must be judged to ‘ be in the public interest’ – by the public themselves, and that the public must be willing to endorse the proposed change.

Sweetheart backroom deals that currently permeate Florida’s decision-making climate will become much less likely and far more difficult.

The Hometown Democracy initiative is an enticing proposition, offering a strong resounder to the present climate of the ‘public be damned’!

Now let me divide my time by enumerating several potential problems with the Hometown Democracy Amendment.

1) The Problem of Nimbyism - or - Not in My Back Yard! Local governments will find it much more difficult to adopt amendments that are controversial, but much-needed community projects such as affordable housing, schools, transit systems, landfills, prisons, and other public infrastructure will encounter resistance from citizens who might want them, but not if located anywhere near their home.

Local governments could be forced to undertake either far more costly or less desirable alternatives or eliminate much needed projects entirely.

2) Piecemeal Planning - FHD would remove the ‘comprehensive’ from the comprehensive planning approach, resulting in a series of uncoordinated, piecemeal decisions driven by popularity rather than necessity or thoughtful planning.

Additionally, FHD does not promote strategies to reduce sprawl: instead the proposal might limit responsible new developments in more populated areas seeking appropriate infill opportunities, forcing new development out into rural areas which have fewer people to oppose a proposed plan amendment.

3) High-Priced Media Campaigns - Debates on controversial plan amendments will likely turn into high-priced media campaigns favoring well-funded developers over homeowners associations and grass-root groups. Citizens will face the constant need to fund ‘War Chests’ to counter ill-advised amendments.

Think about this: the county and city commissioners can shirk their duty to eliminate bad proposals and poorly conceived amendments by simply stating in passing the proposal: “Let the citizens decide!”

4) Logistical Problems - FHD creates some real logistical problems. FHD would require all amendments to be voted on prior to adoption by local government, BUT there is no definite answer regarding whether such amendments are to be voted on individually or in a bundled package with many amendments. Then there is the real challenge of describing each amendment in 75 words or less on the ballot. Assuming that this could be fairly accomplished, will voters be able to effectively consider more than a few amendments in this fashion? Surely we don’t want to copy California’s ballots with dozens and dozens of amendments on each ballot.

What will local governments do – add the amendments to the regular elections or will special elections be required? If so, the cost of special elections could be staggering.

5) Planning Gridlock - I see real legal quandaries resulting in a voter-approved amendment found ‘not in compliance' by DCA, not to mention local plan amendments required in the future by changes in the act or amendments.

Consider for a moment the new requirements such as school concurrency, mandatory water supply coordination, capital facility improvements and many other important questions of comprehensive planning; the likelihood of gridlock is high.

This could all be exacerbated if the legislature, in the pockets of big time, highly financed developers, were to retaliate by redefining the definition of a plan amendment, or even make growth management programs advisory at both the local and state levels.

Will HTD put an end to those shenanigans or will passage of the amendment lead to an era of constant legal controversies?

If we want put on the brakes - and really slow down the runaway train of growth, and have time to take a rational measure of where we want our state to grow and mature, it is enticing to ignore the obvious flaws in proposed Amendment #4. If Amendment #4 fails, there will be other efforts made to encourage Florida to grow up and face its problems. Either way we will have that opportunity at the ballot box a year from this November.

I have a long record of being involved with growth management issues in Florida. I have served on countless study committees and commissions, followed the original conception of growth management in Oregon, and helped form 1000 Friends of Florida. At times I have been encouraged that this state’s leadership understood the forces that were destroying the assets that make Florida such a special place, but today I share your sense of being ‘dismayed if not disgusted’. The sheer numbers of new residents and the power of the developers have combined to undermine one of the most thoughtful, best conceived, and carefully crafted growth management acts in the country.

Now we face a crossroad. Amendment #4 is born out of collective frustration leading to discontent and a loss of confidence in government.

As I have shown you Amendment #4 has both strengths and weaknesses.

It is the only meaningful alternative before us for consideration.

When I am in doubt, I turn to a group of ‘old owls’ for advice: men and women, who have served in government, are notable planners and designers and even developers - the conscientious few that have produced lovely communities that all of us could be proud to live in.

They’re a split jury!

One verdict: It can’t get any worse, let’s try it!

The other verdict; “My God, you have no idea of what the unintended consequences of passage of Hometown Democracy will be.

I admit to being in an impossible personal position of not knowing at this time how I am going to vote on this issue. I think I am going to wait and watch the next session of the Florida Legislature to see if there is any hope that maturation of the leadership understands the critical nature of the decisions that must be made if we are to reverse or continue the era of the great Ponzi scheme.

My advice to each of you caring Floridians who care so deeply about the future of our beleaguered state: stay tuned, stay involved and knowledgeable. Keep up to date with the debate as it develops as the future of Florida well may at stake.

Thank you!