Town Hall in Ruskin to Discuss Incorporation

03/10/06

Town Hall in Ruskin to Discuss Incorporation- Thursday, March 9

Last night, more than 150 people filled the cafeteria at Ruskin Elementary School to get the latest information on their quest for incorporation. Stan Davis reports…

On January 7, the Hillsborough County delegation to Tallahassee unanimously agreed to support the Ruskin proposal to put a referendum on the ballot in November.

The measure will be introduced to the legislature during this spring session.

So, Ruskin residents wanted to know what comes next…

… A question complicated by the recent 6-to-1 decision by the Hillsborough County Commission to oppose the measure.


Kathy Castor, who represents Ruskin on the Commission, was the lone dissenter.

The 90 minute “Town Hall� meeting was organized and presided over by the Ruskin Incorporation Committee—or RIC –a 30 member group of local volunteers dedicated to giving Ruskin’s voters a chance to say Yay or Nay to incorporation…

While the organizers clearly feel incorporation is the route to go, the purpose of last night’s gathering was purely to get information back to the community, not to lobby for incorporation.


Wade Clark, Chair of the RIC explains how things got rolling in the first place…

[Roll tape]

[Actuality 1- Wade- “… how we got started…�]

Speaker after speaker took great pains to emphasize that Ruskin’s moves towards the referendum were not about secession.


The crux of the measure, they said, was about local control of how their community was to develop in the future, both in terms of land use and services delivered.


More specifically, they said, the issue on the table right now was not whether to incorporate or not, but rather whether Ruskin’s citizens had the right to vote on their own future.

Sandy Council has lived in Ruskin all her life …

[Roll Tape]

[Actuality 2- Sandy Council- “… Chips Fall,� ]

Wade Clark also talked about secession, as well as partnering with the county to achieve common goals.



[Roll Tape]

[Actuality 3- Wade Clark- “… Not Secessionist, the question is the right to vote…�]



The opposition was there last night as well…

Although they kept silent during the meeting, both Edith Stewart—Hillsborough County Public Affairs Officer –and Eric Johnson—Director of the county’s Department of Management and Budget –sat respectfully in the audience until the dais cleared.


At that point, they began speaking informally with anyone who cared to hear what they had to say.



One point both Stewart and Johnson wanted to make clear was the citizens of Ruskin were not going to have it easy.

Edith Stewart…



[Roll tape]

[Actuality 4- Edith Stewart threatens non-cooperation]

Eric Johnson had serious questions for the people of Ruskin to consider. In particular, he wanted the voters to know that there were some critical assumptions contained in the Feasibility Study being used by Incorporation advocates …



[Roll Tape]

[Actuality 5- Eric Johnson on costing services from the county]

They were also passing out folders, prepared by the county, that included newspaper stories from Broward and Lee counties disparaging the incorporation efforts of other communities in the state.


Edith Stewart explained why she and Johnson were there distributing these hand-outs…

[Roll Tape]

[Actuality 6- Edith Stewart2]

Eric Johnson had one more thing on his mind, that Ruskin, whether incorporated or not, would always be part of Hillsborough County…

[Roll Tape]

[Actuality 7- Eric Johnson 2]

In the end, though, what came through loud and clear from most of the attendees last night was a deep dissatisfaction with the way the county treats Ruskin, as well as how they look upon land use and development.

Ruskin citizen, Manuel Fernandez

[Roll tape]

[Actuality 8- Fernandez on development]

In Ruskin, for WMNF, I’m Stan Davis

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