As chairman of the Friends of Lakewood Ranch, I write to respond to your editorial entitled, “Too soon for petitions.”
It is an elemental rule of logical thinking that a false premise must necessarily result in a false conclusion. Your editorial is based upon such a false premise.
Your entire editorial assumes that the Friends have control over the timing of the drive to incorporate Lakewood Ranch. Nothing could be further from the facts.
The Incorporation Study Group is the group that is driving the incorporation train. They set the timing schedules, and it is to them that your editorial should have been addressed.
You state that “ … this petition drive appears pre-emptive and before its time. We say that because it is under way well before the residents of Lakewood Ranch have armed themselves with enough information to analyze all of the relevant facts and issues to know whether incorporation makes sense.” You go on to state, “This is a huge issue. And it needs proper time for seasoning … more seasoning, more debate and more information is warranted … ” You conclude by urging Lakewood Ranch residents “ … to hold off before signing petitions.”
The views you expressed above are a rational and reasonable position to hold regarding the current incorporation debate, other than the “hold off signing” statement. After giving due consideration to your views, why didn’t you direct your conclusion to the Incorporators and request that they postpone the straw poll they are planning to hold in approximately 10 weeks (sometime in August), because they are in total and complete control of the process including how and when they hold the straw poll?
Why would you ever expect the Friends or Lakewood Ranch residents not to continue with their efforts at stopping incorporation when a vote will be held in only a few short weeks? That’s simply irrational. Your editorial is thoughtful, but your conclusion is wrong and directed at the wrong group! At a minimum, you should have at least requested both groups to postpone their campaigns to allow what you describe as “ … more seasoning, more debate and more information … ”
Certainly, if you concluded that residents are not well informed enough at this time to sign a petition, then why would you conclude that the same residents will be able to make an informed judgment in just a few more weeks by voting in a straw poll? In your next editorial, we hope that you might consider expanding your conclusion by directing your comments to the Incorporators who, in fact, control the timing of the incorporation process, as well as the entire incorporation initiative.
Faced with a schedule that includes a straw poll in August and a bill in December, we have no choice but to now do exactly what we are doing. To follow The Observer’s schedule would be to have us delay until the whole process is complete. We refuse to do this.
To this point we have been unable to ascertain just how the straw poll will be conducted. Even though the poll is scheduled for less than 10 weeks from now, the Incorporation Study Group is “unable” to tell us how they are going to do it.
So long as the Incorporators insist on such an accelerated schedule, we have no option but to continue our efforts to avoid the perils of incorporation. No option to the current schedule has been presented to us.
Gary Berns is chairman of the Friends of Lakewood Ranch, which opposes incorporation.
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