County agrees on need for a lobbyist to help protect its powers


Published: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 11:39 p.m.
Nothing like a threat to local government's self-deter- mination to have it rushing to hire a lobbyist.
The Florida Association of Counties is concerned the Legislature in its coming session may try to limit the powers of charter counties - those that set their own government structure.
So it wants to hire a lobbyist to represent the interests of charter counties. The Alachua County Commission, which governs by charter, quickly agreed at a meeting last week to sign on and appropriated $5,000 to foot some of the bill.
"We know we need to do this," Commissioner Rodney Long said. "We know very clearly we need to do this."
Same-sex marriage: Same-sex marriage may not be that big of a deal to Alachua County residents.
Barbara Fuller, the county coordinator for the Florida4Marriage Coalition, put out a press release trying to drum up support for a proposed Florida constitutional amendment that would ban marriages other than those between a man and woman.
So far, 2,211 petitions have been signed by Alachua County residents. Of those 1,211 have been verified by elections officials as eligible voters while the others are waiting to be verified. The county has 143,142 registered voters.
Welcoming shot: New Gainesville City Manager Russ Blackburn took a friendly jab from an Alachua County commissioner on the not-so-friendly topic of annexation last week.
Blackburn attended a commission meeting and the discussion turned to annexation, always a sore spot between the city and county.
Without mentioning names, Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut apparently referred to a new role Blackburn has given former interim city manager Barbara Lipscomb to oversee annexation attempts.
"Now you have an annexation assistant city manager, I believe," Chestnut said.
"That is one of her duties," replied a smiling Blackburn.
Trash town: Warren Nielsen has taken his fellow Gainesville city commissioners on tours of New Haven, Conn., and Norfolk, Va., to learn about urban revitalization.
Last week, he took them on a photo tour of Gainesville to teach them about trash. The photos were from neighborhoods around the University of Florida, a day or so after the football game with Florida State University.
Nielsen wanted to show the unsightliness of the litter, including beer kegs. Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, however, noted that deposits on beer kegs have risen.
"Now that we know they are worth more, we can go out and get them," she said.
Nielsen did end his photo show on a pleasant note with shots from UF's Butterfly Rainforest.

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