To Joe Blocker, Jerry Milligan and Bob Allen:

 

Each of you gentlemen has taken an opportunity to express yourselves publicly on an issue that’s been on everyone’s minds since early March: changing Crestview’s charter to incorporate a city manager-council form of government.

 

Mr. Blocker, you committed yourself to acting to the will of the people and to not succumb to the threats of an outsider (even if he is an expert, and they weren’t threats).

You very passionately advocated for the education of the people and focused on getting something sent out in the water bill. I appreciate your gesture and willingness to take a suggestion that was first offered by someone in our Facebook group.

However, when the water bill initiative stunted, what additional efforts did you make at educating the public?

You claimed after your election victory that you wanted and needed the public’s assistance in steering our city, and yet you haven’t taken time to respond to any of my emails that I’ve sent the whole council, which is disappointing when sat against your promise to work with the people and your encouragement for the people to get involved.

We’re involved now.

 

Mr. Milligan, you served on the previous charter review committee and helped determine a move to a city manager was necessary.

Recently, you’ve published an article with The Good Country stating that a city manager form isn’t the only one we can go to, and you focused heavily on education of the public the same way Mr. Blocker did.

I’ll ask you a similar question — what steps have you taken since the beginning of March, when this issue picked up speed, to educate the public about the inefficiencies of what we currently have and what options we have moving forward, with pros and cons of each?

 

Mr. Allen, you are a former councilman with deeper knowledge on this issue than the average citizen. You went so far as to equate the rationale (delivered by experts) to a Little Johnny scenario and jumping off bridges, and went so far as to state a strong mayor form of government should be the way of Crestview’s future, citing representation to the voters as being the largest benefit over a manager.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you canceled out your own argument, for in one point you acknowledged that a three-fifths vote in an open meeting can quickly dismiss a city manager (the council meets at least twice per month), but then in an attempt to argue your main point of a strong mayor, you suggest a lengthy process of impeachment/recall, or waiting for the next mayoral election (every four years) as being better for the voters, in the event of a bad mayor — all of which, even in the best circumstances, would take longer than getting three-fifths of the council to act.

Further, if we move to a model “strong mayor” charter, the mayor typically hires a city manager upon taking office. This means we not only raise the current mayor’s salary, but we also hire an additional employee, which is gluttonous spending when we can hire a manager, re-evaluate existing salaries to accommodate the move of duties under the manager, and come out spending less money than if we went to strong mayor.

My question to you, Mr. Allen, is what substantiating data and facts do you have to support your suggestion of a strong mayor for Crestview, specifically?

Voter representation is a flimsy argument here, because it can easily be flipped on end that the five existing elected officials, who answer to the voters, are still accountable to their constituents in the same manner you claim a mayor would.

ALL elected officials are susceptible to a recall petition initiative. The data supporting a city manager is backed by the Florida League of Cities, in addition to other state, and nationally recognized entities whose whole call in life is to advance municipalities.

 

A question I have for all three of you, since each of you expressed public education as being of massive importance, is this: What steps did you take before the last election to educate voters of there even being an election?

And when the turnout was so alarmingly low at 3.8 percent, what steps did you take to make sure voters will come back out next election, or what steps did you take to try and improve future involvement?

It seems each time this topic comes up, it’s the same group defending against change, holding “CAUTION!” signs, and random speed bumps occur along the way to throw people off the scent.

Gentlemen, is there something you’d rather the people not see? 

Matt Gates, with the Facebook page Crestview Citizens for Change, is not to be confused with Matt Gaetz, the U.S. congressman. He lives in Crestview.