Monday, January 30, 2012

Excellent St. Augustine Record Editorial Parts Ways with Rep. WM. PROCTOR, Opposes FSDB Eminent Domain Legislation, HB 1037

Our view: Don't give FSDB eminent domain
Posted: January 29, 2012 - 12:34am

Officials of The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind want the Florida Legislature to give the school the same powers of eminent domain other public education institutions have. They say they don’t have any plans to use it now but would like it, just in case for the future. And they say it would save public dollars on land costs.

But they want it without local government oversight and that’s where we part ways with the school, the bill and state Rep. Bill Proctor.

In his last term in the Florida House of Representatives, Proctor is pushing House Bill 1037 which would give the school eminent domain. Proctor is not the sponsor of the bill but he might as well be. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Doug Broxson of Gulf Breeze.

Proctor is the political face of FSDB and has been for more than two decades, including his 18 years on the board of trustees, 12 of them as chairman. There’s little doubt in our mind that the bill is being pushed as a “thank you gesture” from his colleagues. Proctor would disagree with us because he said to the Record Editorial Board recently that the bill is needed to give FSDB what other public educational entities already have — the power to take private property, if necessary, for the institution’s use and at reasonable costs. We agree those powers are allowed for public schools, colleges and universities. But, along with the power in the law, there are also requirements that those entities work with local governments on their expansion and master plans.

Until Wednesday, HB 1037 included those same kinds of requirements. But Wednesday night, during the House Community & Military Affairs committee, those requirements to cooperate were deleted from the bill. And the bill analysis at said it passed without objection.

The bill must face other committees before the full House votes. But, the new version is so badly gutted of checks and balances that we have to question what the House wants the bill to be? It appears the only goal is to allow the school unregulated powers of eminent domain. We do not believe this should occur. We fully expect that if this bill passes the House and Senate that FSDB will have greater powers than any other public school or college or university over eminent domain.

This bill is about the future. While FSDB has said it has no expansion plans now, a future board of trustees and administration could change that. With the wrong people in power, and eminent domain authority without local government oversight, we could see whole neighborhoods disappear.

The Florida Legislature should let this bill die. Should it pass, we hope Gov. Rick Scott has the political will to veto it.


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Don't give FSDB eminent domain power
By watchinourbucks | 01/29/12 - 01:14 pm

If you've been here long enough, you'll remember the fiasco of our Airport Authority being legislated eminent domain. The 80-85
families in Araquay and Jackson Park, some third generation homeowners were "displaced" by pressure from the airport authority.
Approximately 304-309 parcels of land CURRENTLY are owned by the Airport Authority; patch-work parcels on both sides of U.S. 1, OFF the tax rolls, for expansion. Do ya' think that the same grasping attitude might be budding at FSDB ?

New, tax subsidized hangars now stand where these 'just plain folks'
homes once stood. Our previous av valorem taxes paid to the airport, helped squeeze out those homeowners not wanting to sell.

If eminent domain is granted to FSDB, essentially ANY property
owned by residents can be "needed" by FSDB for some 'worthwhile'
purpose. Our / your taxes will pay for it; their attorney ( paid by your taxes) will fight you for ownership of YOUR home. YOU will have to retain an attorney, if you want to keep YOUR home ( possibly to pass on to your heirs).

It was interesting how FAST a fence was constructed along the
City / FSDB property line: perhaps a reader might want to do a
Freedom of Information request of Mr. Hutto and FSDB Board Members' emails / correspondence, to see if the decision to construct the fence was done in the sunshine. Was
the formality of a bid to several vendors done ?

I plan to send copies of the " Our View," and St. Augustine Commissioner Bill Leary's guest column to all of our Florida
Legislators, as well as Governor Scott.

It might be interesting to obtain, under the Freedom of Information
Act, copies of emails / letter correspondence from and to the bill's
sponsor, Representative Doug Broxson and Representative Bill
Proctor, for the past 10 months or so.

Why would Representative Doug Broxson, from Gulf Breeze, Fl.
sponsor House Bill 1037, for Representative Proctor ?

Mr. Proctor has had some positive for St. Augustine during his terms. Will this apparent eminent domain "thank you gesture" be a stain on his and Representative Broxson's political career ?

Coach Paterno won hundreds of games during his coaching years.
Most people will remember his inaction re. Coach Sandusky's conduct; a major 'forever smear' on all of Jo-Pa's successes.

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Last bad acts
By nautico | 01/30/12 - 07:37 am

Watcchinourbucks, your mention of Paterno and Sandusky reminded me of a line from the TV show "Blue Bloods" in which Tom Selleck's police commissioner character says

"Sometimes we judge ourselves by our good intentions, but we are judged by our last worst act."

The reactions to Gov Haley Barbour's pardons come to mind, as well. Like those pardons, Rep. Proctor's bill smacks of a final out-the-door gift to his FSDB constituency.

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