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Meadowcrest is morally right in asking for a gate

Back on a Monday, hope you had a great weekend. We’re going to do something a little different today. It’s the start of a brand new week, students back on Thursday this week, endless possibilities lay in front of us, let’s make the most of them by just throwing stuff out there and seeing what works. Since that all sounds a little daring, let’s start on what you’re used to. The main topic of today’s show will be a reaction to Just Wright Citrus’ piece this morning on Meadowcrest possibly voting to construct gates at either end of Meadowcrest drive. Here’s where we’re going to start dipping our toes into the deep end.

I’m not going to disagree with him! Wow, I’m glad we’re recording this otherwise I might not even believe this is happening either. Just Wright Citrus provided a good foundation of local history from which we can build into a little more philosophical direction as we often do. This is a refreshing turn of events after last Monday’s show which was a stark rebuttal to something he had written, but I did have a line in that show that I think is important. I was talking about William Gibson’s novel the Necromancer, which served as the basis of the movie franchise the Matrix, but how Gibson was terrified people would think he got his idea from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. I said last Monday, and I mean it, that just like the Necromancer wasn’t trying to replace the cultural significance of Blade Runner, so too is there room for multiple opinions. The voicing of my side isn’t ever intended to become to only voice, but rather to add to what is out there for a curious public to best form their own perspectives.

Okay, so me agreeing with Mike Wright is the first step into a brave new world. The second is going to be I want to add a mini-segment within this intro, something I’ll likely do for the next several Mondays, which is a recap of what I got wrong over the last week. We all make mistakes, for example, Steve Steiner, the reporter hand-picked by new Chronicle executive editor Jim Gouvellis, can’t stop getting names wrong. Earlier we had Sheriff Joe Prendergast and today’s front page we have new Crystal River city manager Doug Baber, unless you read the photo caption and then he’s Doug Haber. And I would almost let Steve off the hook here because normally photographers write the captions but he signed is name to the caption!

Now, my transcripts are full of typos because I voice-to-text most of these notes and only edit the most egregious errors so I of all people should let him off the hook for misspellings. But come on! Names are the bedrock of beginning reporting, and you know how I know that? Because in 2013, I taught a class at USF literally called beginning reporting and I would give my students a 0 each time they turned in an assignment with errors like what is now clearly becoming a pattern. Also, don’t at least three people look at the front page before it goes to print because it’s the front page, and aren’t all of them trained to specifically focus on names? It’s the fundamentals here, you box out when the shot goes up, you catch a fly ball with two hands, and you triple check names, especially on the front page.

But what’s not exactly breaking news is that I’m not flawless either. So without further ado, I’ll back off the Chronicle and reflect inward as we start a new segment called, “that’s just wrong” with some help from John C. McGinley as the iconic Dr. Cox in one of my favorite shows growing up Scrubs. That’s just wrong on a Monday, here we go.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong”

I mentioned last week that cross access in businesses is something that can help alleviate traffic. The new Inverness Chipotle does have a cross access and it still backed up, so while it is important, it isn’t a full solution.


I reached out to public information regarding the fate of tourism director John Pricher and got the report that the decision could be made anytime in five business days and then he was fired by the end of that day Friday and the Chronicle got that story. Wait, this isn’t me being wrong, the story was true at the time, it was just updated to include new…

“You’re wrong”

Okay. Let’s keep going. I did an entire topic on unqualified local candidates and I did not include the fact that we have someone who dressed like a panda and was arrested for violence at the capitol on Jan. 6. Don’t know how I missed that one.

“you’re wrong”

I also did a story on families that dominate American politics due in part to our familiarity with them and the strong bias that holds in our psyche and I did NOT include the Kennedys? How did I miss that? Joe Kennedy Sr. going to run for president but makes a political misstep as ambassador to England, Joe Kennedy Jr, going to run but killed in WWII, John F. Kennedy, runs and wins, assassinated in office, Robert Kennedy Sr. runs in 68, assassinated on the campaign trail, Ted Kennedy, runs in 1980, campaign verbally assassinated by the simple question of why do you want this office, and now Robert Kennedy Jr. running on shirtless photos and bucking the democratic establishment. THAT was an oversight.

“you’re wrrooonngg”

And that was our new segment. I think I’ll call it “that’s just wrong” but I’m open to suggestions. I would like to say I’ll put some suggestions out there, and we’ll vote on what the best is, but that would mean following the majority is always the best course of option. And it’s not, and that’s not as unAmerican of an opinion as it sounds. That’s our topic for today.

The Chronicle featured another guest editorial from the Tampa Bay Times today so I am going to focus solely on what Just Wright Citrus talked about. In short, the residents of Meadowcrest are contemplating gating off the road that is often used as a cut-through from 486 to 44 because about 2600 cars a day travel it according to a traffic study that the neighborhood collected and Mike reported. Since it is a private road, it’s entirely a homeowners issue and the county has no say in the decision making, despite having a multiple departments in the Meadowcrest mixed-use park although it’s unclear if the proposed gate would restrict those. Mike Wright also recalled that the county said they do not feel they have an obligation to help with the private road despite having the office space there that could presumably increase the traffic because of people going to the DMV among other entities.

My question, which was not touched on in his piece although I do think it was quite informative today so good job Mike, is what percentage of residents actually want it to be gated. If it’s a majority then that’s one thing but if it’s just a very vocal minority, then that’s something else to consider as well. And all of the sudden, I’m not actually talking about Meadowcrest anymore. We’re talking about Inverness Villages IV.

The residents of Inverness Villages IV who want change, specifically who want their roads to not threaten their livelihood during a sunshower, are technically in the minority. They would be in the minority even if every resident came out against the sole majority land owner, one man who doesn’t want change, but the truth is many residents have remained silent on the issue and a small fraction of people who just like living in the wild west or who presumably don’t live here in the summer months and understand the scope of the problem. In this case, action on behalf of the minority I still think is justified.

So how do we know? How do we know when it’s okay to act on the majority, like a home owners vote about a gate with the residents of Meadowcrest, and when it’s appropriate to uplift a minority, like with those who want infrastructure improvements in Inverness Villages IV? It comes down to the difference between righteousness and morality, something we’ve briefly discussed in the past.

The difference between these two is that righteousness is acting in a way that you think is right, usually on a case-by-case basis, whereas morality is acting in a way that is right, usually on a longstanding standard such as a code of ethics. This is really the core argument I have with the Chronicle. I believe they act righteously in the name of community journalism, making publication decisions based off what they think is right, when I would rather them act morally – basing these decisions on about the century old principle of objective journalism.

The patriots of revolutionary America believed in God-given natural, inalienable rights and the vocal minority dragged the colonies toward rebellion in pursuit of these moral principles. The Civil Rights Era believed the Declaration of Independence and common human decency that all men are created equal and stood up to the majority in the pursuit of removing discriminatory laws and practices.

I believe the residents of Meadowcrest are acting on individual privacy rights guaranteed in the spirit of the Bill of Rights from the third amendment against quartering soldiers to the fourth amendment against search and seizure. Privacy is evident in these passages and so the gate should happen if that’s what the residents decide.

But also too there’s a right of the government to protect its citizens, what I’ve previously said is the only role of government. Fire Chief Craig Stevens says emergency vehicles can still access Inverness Villages IV but I would much rather have a heart attack in December than in the summer to not tempt fate. Some on the commission are acting out of this moral role, the most front facing of which has been the district representative Commissioner Holly Davis. While I’m no fan of activist government, I do think it’s necessary in this case because of my belief of government to provide that one vital role of protection, what is the second most basic, and good infrastructure arguably could be the most basic, level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

At the end of the day, though, this stuff is hard. What constitutes a longstanding tradition? What about Biblical traditions that qualify as moral standards but conflict with societal practices? When does a majority suppress a minority and when does a vocal minority become tyrannical over those unwilling to challenge it? I imagine we’ll be exploring these questions in depth in the future, but it’s quite the road to travel that all started talking about a gate.


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