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4-25-16

Sabal Trail Pipeline project
– The truth exists somewhere in the middle


By Jason Bashaw, District 1 Suwannee County Commissioner, Chairman of the Board


Live Oak, Fla., – Recently the Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution to remain neutral regarding the Sabal Trail Pipeline project.  Various constituencies throughout our county ranging from the pro-growth and infrastructure movement to the extreme environmentalists have differing opinions on this but the loudest by far is the environmentalist movement.  The truth exists somewhere in the middle which brings us to the reasonable neutral stance adopted by the Board in the form of a resolution.  
For the anti-pipeline lobby they have found another sponsor to bring this issue up yet again.  As the Chairman I respect individual requests from other commissioners to place items on the agenda.  When the Board takes a position on an issue after countless hours of debate the resolve should remain as such, solid like the U.S. Constitution.  The back tracking results in erosion of confidence for resolutions by the Board.  Resolutions are official statements.  If a County’s resolve cracks under political pressure it brings into question the leadership’s ability to direct public policy for the best interest of all concerned.  
In this particular instance the political winds blow strongly to the left.  This left leaning disruptive wind throughout our entire nation today is what frustrates many of us here in Suwannee County.  Our Southern Hospitality and good nature to be civil and uninvolved for fear of being demonized by the vocal minority paralyzes us.  This is used to the left’s advantage.  Some politicians love to use special interest groups with a loud voice for self-preservation.  The alternative of researching for ourselves and communicating with the community at large is hard work.  So we take the path of least resistance namely, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and this equals the disruptive society which we first saw in the Occupy Wall Street movement and more recently in the Black Lives Matter movement.  
We can’t really blame the public in general for being upset.  Wishy washy leadership, not built on a principled foundation tempered with common sense, has caused a lot of the problems we face today.  The national debt, war strategy, race and religion issues, poverty, low graduation rates, inflation of basic necessities, and the list goes on and on.  We have to ask ourselves this question, “If we side with special interest disruptive groups, will we be satisfied with the policy they would implement across the spectrum issues that come before government?”


I’ll give you an example.  When I was on the walking tour of the proposed pipeline route near the Suwannee River I had a discussion with one of the folks who was opposed to it.  During the course of the conversation in an attempt to find some reasonable common ground with this person I said, ”Some people believe that humans are a virus on this planet”, to which the person responded, “I believe that.”  I assumed that some amount of reason would exist within this conversation.  It shouldn’t surprise me though.  If a person like this were to be in charge of public policy then growing the area in any way, responsible or otherwise, would not occur.  The silent majority of Suwannee Countians want responsible growth centered around our municipalities and interchanges so that we can have greater choice in amenities to improve our quality of life.  But that is not what some in the vocal minority want.  They want our area to remain dependent on government and in that way control the people through that mechanism because they (think they) know what’s best.  Environmental groups like to keep the business community at bay because typically the business community supports in general policies which are not consistent with the liberal agenda.  Many times from the podium I’ve heard testimony about how Suwannee County needs to stay the way it is because new residents have moved in here with the thought of it never changing.  This limits jobs and prosperity.  It makes finding a job more difficult here locally and our community stays dependent on government at all levels.  


In the end special interest groups are not concerned with the big picture only their issue of keeping our area green.  It’s not about the data or the debate, it’s about the Win!  That’s where elected leadership comes in.  As elected leaders we should bring reason into the deliberative process to make a responsible, big picture decision with a long view.  Unfortunately the path of least resistance wins most of the time.  What do you want, strong effective leadership with a clear vision or more of the same?  


Elections matter.  Finding local leaders who are less interested in self-preservation should play a major part in in who we decide to vote for.  If a political leader is more interested in appealing to the vocal minority of voters who are heard the loudest rather than what is best for the population as a whole, is that person truly a leader or are they really a follower?


We can be a successful community when we set goals and implement planned policy to achieve them if we just want to.  As a community leader I tried to do that here in such a small way but with a big impact on cost savings over the next two decades.  Yet it was met with resistance.  I will not give up. Planning for tomorrow is what you do in your personal life why wouldn’t you expect your government do it too!


Resolutions are important.  Their significance should be preserved.  The constitution and corresponding documents are a statement.  The secular progressive movement would like you to believe it is a living breathing document subject to the laws of nature.  They say it lives, it grows, it changes, and develops over time.  But, living things also die.  Our resolutions are a foundation to stand on by our elected leadership.  If those are undermined then on what do we stand?  For we are only as good as our word and actions….

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