Plan aversion


Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 9:27 p.m.

The motto of the State of Florida is "In God we trust."

But, if we had a truth-in-labeling requirement, it would be: "Do as we say, not as we do."

Years ago, the Legislature required cities and counties to adopt comprehensive plans.

Know what's in the State of Florida's comprehensive plan?

Let's just say Tallahassee suffers from plan aversion.

Planning up there runs on two-year cycles, from one election to the next.

That's why lawmakers hand out tax cuts like party favors in the face of multi-billion-dollar revenue deficits.

Forget how it might impact the state's ability to meet the needs of a growing population 10 or 20 years down the road.

Just so long as it gets them re-elected two years hence.

On Thursday, Mark Wilson, CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, dropped by to talk about the "big picture."

During the Crist administration, Wilson said, "1,100 people a day were moving to Florida. But the state didn't have a strategic plan that said, ‘Here's where we're going.'"

"Looking ahead 20 years, there will be 5 million to 7 million more people in Florida...two and a half million people by 2020," he continued. "We won't have enough energy, we won't have enough water, we're not planning for that kind of growth."

Wilson is a button-down business type who understands the importance of strategic planning in the corporate culture.

But oddly enough, I heard pretty much the same message a few hours later, when a bunch of artists, environmentalists and scientists got together at the High Springs Opera House to celebrate the launching of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute.

The institute's mission is to raise public awareness of the deteriorating state of Florida's 900-plus artisan springs — and, by extension, the problems looming for our vast underground aquifers.

You know, the source of the entire state's drinking water.

"We need to connect the dots between the wellbeing of Florida's water resources and a vibrant, healthy economy," said Annie Pais, director of Florida's Eden, the group that keeps trying to make the point that what's good for Florida's natural environment is also good for Florida business — in the long run.

Gee, if only we had a plan to grow sustainably.

Unfortunately, in the Legislature, they've got the long knives out for comprehensive planning. And sustainability sounds a little too much like socialism to the tin ears of Sen. Foghorn and Rep. Bombast.

But wait a minute:

Our new governor, Rick Scott, is a business guy, right?

A CEO, not a POL.

He must understand the value of strategic planning.

I'll bet they taught him that in CEO school.

It's way too early to talk about the legacy thing. But if Scott can figure out how to pry state government out of its two-year box and start thinking about the big picture, he just might go down in history.

Gov. Rick Scott: Futurist.

Now there's a plan.

Ron Cunningham is editorial page editor of The Sun. He can be contacted at voice@gvillesun.com or at 352-262-5798. Read his blog, Under The Sun, at www.gainesville.com/opinion.

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