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Sunday April 20th 2014

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Two More Years

The state legislators should table the Consolidation Plan until the proposal is fully discussed by the voters and modifications made to it based on the voters’ input—not based on the demands of constitutional officers, politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups. Commissioner Wilson Robertson had the right idea – give the commission two more years to fully work out the details. But I would like to add that the Escambia County Commission also should give funding to the consolidation commission so that it can fully study the issues surrounding consolidation.

This plan has been rushed harder than QB Kurt Warner in the NFC Championship game. Compromises have been made and the unintended consequences of some of the sections have not been completely thought out.The Pensacola Charter Commission took nineteen months to draft its final proposal. Over its last six weeks, the Charter Commission had several public forums, that were televised on the web, and the public got to recommend changes to the document and the document was modified.

The Consolidation plan has never been presented in its final form to the public. Never. There was no chance for the public to study the final document, weigh the rewards and risks of the various sections, make recommendations for changes and then have the Escambia County Consolidation Study Commission modify the final plan before it was went to the lawmakers. No chance.

What we have is document written and approved by a very small group of people – who may have the best intentions, but are not representative of the entire community. We have a document that is being rushed to the ballot and we are being told that they will explain it to us later and if we have any problems with it, we can change it after it’s passed.

No, that is not how a decision as important as this should be done. While the Independent News supports consolidation, we can not support this consolidation plan that may do more harm than any of its drafters and supporters ever intended.

The public has been excluded from having their voices heard in the final document and therefore, we believe more time should be given to the study and drafting of the final document before it is placed before the voters. Two years should be enough time.