The Key West Mystique

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Tourists should get to vote on Florida’s Amendment 1

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

10/10/2014

Where’s a good, ol’ fashioned voter fraud when you need one? Let’s let the tourists vote in Florida.

Especially this November on Amendment 1, which would pony up big chunks of already collected tax dollars to buy, manage, improve and preserve Florida land. It only seems fair that tourists should get to help decide how best to pay for the land and water they come to visit.

I mean, they do come to Florida for the dream, right? Not for the paved over shopping centers? OK, so the shopping centers are a draw, too. Same with Key West’s daily Duval Crawl. One does have to have something to do in between exploring the Everglades, fishing the flats or paddling the kayak.

Florida’s all about the water, sun and sand and when one strips away the rhetoric, we’ve pretty much paved over the good stuff, filled in the swamps and dirtied up the edges. Add in a dozen inches of sea level rise and there’s not a lot of dreamy beachfront left.

We did all that out of ignorance — who knew back then it was environmental suicide to allow concrete parking lots and highrises to replace those stinky, alligator-filled swamps? We continued out of greed and need.

From the 1950s when those Lucy-and-Ricky trailer pullers camped out in Florida’s backwaters (my grandparents were among them), Florida’s been a magnet for folks following the sun. And, we catered to them with resorts, entertainment and glitzy destinations. Mosquito plagued campsites might be all the rage with eco-campers, but they’re not going to attract a lot of loose-spending, second home owning folks or summer vacationers with antsy kids.

That’s why tourists and snowbirds should be able to vote on Amendment 1. (P.S.: Those second home-owning snowbirds already paid big bucks for their document stamps when they bought their house. Florida loves its doc stamps; great revenue source.)

It’s kinda this great circle of life. Tourists love Florida’s sunny, sandy, watery dream. They flock here to enjoy it, preferably with air conditioning, good restaurants and paved, go-fast roads. All that concrete and energy put more nails in the coffin of the fragile Florida environment, but it sure does enhance the revenue stream.

If we lose the green space, we’re going to lose the greenbacks. Hence, we better darn well save the environment we’ve got left and undo what we’ve already plundered.

Without an expensive poll to back me up, I’m willing to venture that tourists would support Amendment 1. And, since I really don’t advocate voter fraud (you didn’t think I was serious, did you?), it’s up to Florida voters to do the right thing.

Florida needs Amendment 1 to ensure that 33 percent of the already collected document stamps is dedicated to keeping Florida green and wet. This is not a new tax; it’s a hammer that smacks the legislature anytime its grubby fingers decide to move those tax dollars elsewhere. The money is already being collected. Amendment 1 says use the money to fund the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

Pretty much everyone except the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a handful of political types are saying they’ll vote “yes” on Amendment 1. Even though many of us have to hold our noses at needing a constitutional amendment to make the legislature do the right thing, we’re voting “yes.”

 

 

 

 

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Avatar of Linda Grist Cunningham

Linda Grist Cunningham

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

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