Tuesday night the FDOT will again be represented at the December 16th City Commission meeting, hopefully with more answers and an alternative plan for the Dock Street Dilemma. They have answered many questions but not all questions received direct answers and there are many more questions that need to be addressed regarding the bridge projects; the disrupting effect on businesses (not just Dock Street), the visual impact on residents and visitors, the environmental impact, and the compatibility of the increased mass and design of the bridges that will be around for 75 years.
Below are a few concerns. Some have already been addressed, some are very important and some less so. All questions should get a direct answer as each decision will affect the residents, visitors, and businesses of Cedar Key.
Commercial and Recreational Concerns
The time required for the Dock Street Bridge project, including the temporary bridge, demolition of the existing bridge and construction of the new bridge, was estimated to be 30 to 36 months.
At certain times during this 30 to 36 months of demolition and construction, the inside marina will be forced to close down, boat traffic in the inside marina will not have access to open water.
In the interest of providing information to an informed electorate, the Cedar Key News has studied both candidates competing in the upcoming Levy County Commissioner election which will occur on November 4, 2014, when voters will be asked to vote for James B. “Jamie” Griffin or Lilly Rooks. Cedar Key News research finds a conflict between the legal residency and the voting practice of James (Jamie) B. Griffin.
INTEGRITY OF THE SYSTEM
Voting is a right.
The right to vote and have that vote counted should not be infringed upon in any way. Everyone has a right to have his/her vote honestly registered and counted.
The system, in most states, requires the voter to provide proof of legal residency when initially registering to vote; these states may not require proof of legal residency when changing a voting precinct from one county to another. This is left up to the honesty and integrity of the individual requesting the change.
Mr. Griffin has established residency and currently enjoys Homestead Exemption on his home in Dixie County.
The county Property Appraiser is charged with determining legal residency in order to allow tax exemptions. Mr. Griffin’s residency has been confirmed by the Dixie County Property Appraiser’s office to be in Dixie County:
He still has the Dixie County address on his State of Florida Driver’s License.
He still has the Dixie County address on all of his professional registrations and licenses.
He still receives his mail at the Dixie County address.
He still receives State Homestead Exemption and Dixie County School Exemption on the address of his residence in Dixie County.
The Levy County Property Appraiser has the Dixie County address listed as the mailing address for all property he owns in Levy County.
Mr. Griffin registered to vote in Dixie County in 2010.
Mr. Griffin has been registered to vote in Levy County since 2012.
According to the property appraiser’s determination of Mr. Griffin’s residency to be in Dixie County and according to the Florida Voter Registration Application, James B. Griffin has established his voting district to be in Levy County.
Florida Statute s.101.045 (1) states in part that: “A person is not permitted to vote in any election precinct or district other than the one in which the person has his or her legal residence and which the person is registered.”
The Voter Registration form submitted and signed, under oath, by Mr. Griffin, “…that all information provided in this application is true” shows in the space requiring “Address where you live (legal address-no P.O. Box)”, that Mr. Griffin entered “550 1st Street-Unit 211, Cedar Key Florida.”
The Florida Voter Registration Application states that it is a Criminal Offense and is a 3rd degree felony to submit false information.
It is legal to run for county office (with provisions*) in a county other than the one of the candidate’s legal residency.
*The provision is articulated in the Florida Department of State/Office of General Council document, “Determining When Residency Qualifications for Office Must be Met.” The document states that a candidate running for County Commissioner must reside in the county where he will be seated “At the time of election” which is November 4, 2014.
It is not legal for Mr. Griffin to live in Dixie County and to vote in Levy County.
Mr. Griffin, in response to an earlier Cedar Key News inquiry, stated that his permanent residency will be located at the Cedar Key rental unit at 550 First Street on November 4, 2014, as required to run for the office of Levy County Commissioner.
Over the past decade the number of Cedar Key ordinances has nearly doubled in number. They are approaching number five hundred. The ordinances can be categorized: as either enforced, unenforced, haphazardly enforced, or unenforceable. Over the past three years the Commissioners and their successive City Attorneys have wrestled with a commercial sign ordinance that has not been enforced, and is therefore judged unenforceable. (Among the sign ordinance problems is a provision for fees required of sign owners. That has resulted in lost badly needed revenue for the City.) In recent years the numbers of signs, like the ordinances, have proliferated. Big signs, multiple small signs and trashy signs abound.
Ordinances enacted by our Commission include a tree ordinance, a seawall ordinance, a noise ordinance, an animal ordinance, a fence ordinance and the sign ordinance. When was the last time one was enforced?
At the May 1, 2012 Commission meeting a proposed sign ordinance came up for a vote after much legal work. A motion in favor of the ordinance failed for lack of a second. A compromise motion then failed on a two to three vote. Now, two years later the four candidates for Commission in public forum all agreed that many ordinances remain unenforced or haphazardly enforced. One candidate opined that someone must make a written complaint, but that we must avoid turning neighbors against one another. He added that Commissioners cannot initiate complaints because they might need to participate in resulting hearings.
The new Commission will have the opportunity to make the sign ordinance, the tree ordinance, and all the others enforceable and enforced or take them off the books. It is up to the voters of Cedar Key to let the Commissioners know that they want clear enforceable ordinances put into effect in an even-handed way.
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