County Lines & City Limits


Published: Monday, January 28, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2008 at 12:04 a.m.

The Alachua County Republican Party is no longer silent on Tuesday's state tax-cut referendum.

Chairman Stafford Jones announced Friday that the executive committee voted to support the amendment, saying it is a start at providing tax relief. The vote came after the local Democratic Party, unions and other groups took stands against the amendment.

But the biggest motivational factor of the GOP was the Alachua County Commission's decision to spend $21,500 on mail-outs stating its opposition.

"What really prompted this was the fact that the County Commission is actually spending our tax dollars to try to convince us to not vote for it," Jones said. "That really got under people's skin."

Pegeen goes to Washington: Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan spoke in Washington, D.C., this weekend at the Mayors Innovation Project on a panel discussion called "Fix it First: Prioritizing Infrastructure."

The conference was hosted at the Brookings Institute as a way for city mayors to share policies and ideas. Other keynote speakers at the event were the mayors of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, New Haven, Conn., and Seattle.

"We have made great progress in Gainesville and, although our city is clearly very unique, it is amazing what we can learn from the successes and failures of other cities," Hanrahan said in a prepared statement. She said she hopes to bring home ideas that can be implemented locally.

This is Hanrahan's second trip to Washington recently, which is an indication of the national profile the local politician is building, said the city's communications and marketing manager Bob Woods.

Air boat issues: Some issues never seem to change for the Alachua County Commission.

Shellie Downs, a former Alachua County sheriff's captain who served as a commissioner from 1976-80, spoke at a commission meeting last week about the longtime and contentious issue of airboat noise.

But commissioners couldn't resist chiding him a bit, given the lengthy debate over airboats.

"Did you deal with the issue when you were here, and didn't resolve it?" Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut asked.

"When I was here, the biggest issue was transportation - a regional bus system," Downs said.

"It still is," Chestnut replied.

Speak up: Each of the four districts in Gainesville will have a chance to give elected officials feedback at monthly meetings scheduled from February to May.

The first meeting is for Commissioner Scherwin Henry's District 1 at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Alachua County Health Department, 224 SE 24th St.

A brief staff presentation will outline key issues across the city and in specific districts, but most of the meeting will be reserved for citizen comment, especially in regard to the city's two-year budget for 2009 and 2010.

Other meetings are tentatively scheduled in District 2 on March 6, District 3 on April 2 and District 4 on May 6.

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