Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Op Ed

Government Out of Control

Ever Vigilant is a pseudonym. Ever Vigilant is a leader; an administrator; a veteran; a college graduate and well known. Because the 3 R's of tin-pot despotism -- revenge - retaliation - retribution -- are alive and well in Columbia County, even worming their poisonous tentacles into the heart of the State Attorney's Office, in order for Ever Vigilant to be ever vigilant, his/her name is a pseudonym.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted from February 12-15, 2010 revealed that a majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans; has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens and think that the U.S. government is broken.

This poll will not come as a surprise to the majority of Americans, but it was a complete shock to the news anchors and political pundits that found the poll results incomprehensible.

What is different about the current grassroots movement,  whether it is called TEA Party or something else, is not the political party affiliation of its members; which includes Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans and Independents, but rather the underlying issues that this disparate group of individuals hold in common.

The oxygen fueling this sudden and explosive outbreak of political fervor is the total exasperation over the hot fire of repeated lies, offenses and excesses perpetrated by our elected leaders and outrage at the arrogance, ignorance and self-serving actions of those we have elected to represent us in political office. Politicians at all levels have become disconnected from their constituents and callous to the interests, desires and aspirations of the people they were elected to represent.

The people mandated a balanced budget

The Constitution of Florida mandates that our Legislature balance the budget every year thanks to wise voters and politicians alike that fought the battle to make this a prerequisite of our political business in Florida.

In the past years of steady economic growth many programs were added to the budget to appease various political constituencies. The economic boom is over and the Constitution mandates fiscal discipline.

In the face of a projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall the Governor continues to request increases in spending and the Legislators promise to continue funding of a host of special interest programs.

Last year Governor Crist and the Legislature dodged the budget short fall by greedily lapping up the Stimulus Funds offered by Washington. The shortfall is worse this year. What now, another stimulus to bail us out – not likely. Soon we will see where the cuts are applied.

The local levels of government, city and county, are not immune to the “out of control” arrogance of those elected to power.

The behavior of the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners and their zany antics has been documented repeatedly.

Attendance at any meeting of the County Commission will convince any thinking person that the views and opinions of the electorate are both unwanted and unwelcome. The presence of the public and media interfere greatly with the back door deals of the good ol’ boy system.

Florida's Sunshine Laws demand transparency

While Florida's Sunshine Laws demand transparency in government, the clarity of sunshine has yet to penetrate the opaque smoke screen that surrounds the workings of Columbia County government.

The Columbia County legacy and legend is spreading like a field fire: failure to respond to Freedom of Information requests; making slanderous and unsubstantiated remarks about people and organizations; using political influence to solicit trumped up complaints against opponents; ethics violations; misusing and misdirecting County funds for purposes which they were not intended; spending tax payer dollars on questionable “economic development” projects that could directly benefit members of the Board, their families or business associates -- Business as usual in Columbia County.

“Throw the Bums Out.”

The battle cry is starting to resonate locally, “Throw the Bums Out.” The people get it even if the local politicos don't.

Outrage and outcries alone are not enough -- action is required.

Concerned citizens must attend meetings in far larger numbers and direct probing questions to elected officials and public servants at every opportunity. Write to them regularly. Hold them accountable for their attitudes as well as their actions. Do not accept irresponsible actions that cost you money. Force them to be responsible and replace them frequently.

Our Founding Fathers never envisioned permanent or professional politicians. Voters should demand to know why candidates are running for office and carry out due diligence on the candidates background and financial interests to determine conflicts of interest before electing the scoundrels to office.

Support quality candidates that are knowledgeable of the issues instead of depending on old family ties and high school buddies.

The arrogance and ignorance of most of the candidates and incumbents today should be a driving consideration when casting your vote. While I hesitate to prescribe voting all incumbents out of office, I have to think that a real good house cleaning at all levels would be good for America, Florida and this County.

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