In their battle over the national debt, Barack Obama and John Boehner could not be further apart than the two sides in a certain epic battle in East Manatee.
The opponents are as deeply entrenched and bitterly divided as, let’s say, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers fans.
We’re talking about the opposing sides in the debate over incorporating Lakewood Ranch. And like the Bears and Packers, there’s a certain element of black and blue in this bruising battle.
It really doesn’t matter what the rest of Manatee County may think about incorporation. Only one group of residents can vote on the upcoming straw poll on whether the Ranch should incorporate. And that group is composed entirely of registered voters who live at Lakewood Ranch.
The two sides have proven they can fight quite the battle without any help from outsiders, thank you very much.
There have been competing email newsletters from the two sides, and a series of informational meetings.
Those informational meetings, by the way, have been exhausting and repetitious.
But that doesn’t mean that we have seen the last of them.
In fact, there’s one set for 7 p.m. Monday at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.
It’s being hosted by The Incorporation Study Group, the organization carrying the flag for incorporation.
As usual, there will be a brief overview presentation followed by open discussion on all aspects of incorporation.
Keith Davey, one of the proponents of incorporation, said he will be surprised if more than a handful of people turn out. It’s summer, it’s hot, and you would think most folks wanting to attend a session would have already done so (my words, not his).
The folks urging incorporation stand by a feasibility study by economist Hank Fishkind that says incorporation is feasible and that Lakewood Ranch already has enough heft to be a viable city.
The opponents, a group called Friends of Lakewood Ranch, essentially say that if it isn’t broke, don’t break it. They question Fishkind’s findings and dispute the contention that a City of Lakewood Ranch would pick up revenue sharing that it’s missing out on.
They also say cityhood doesn’t necessarily make for better service to the citizenry.
On Friday, the Friends group sent out an email setting out how it believes the straw poll should be conducted.
Davey’s response was that the straw poll will be held in August, it will be conducted by a reputable firm, and that it will be conducted fairly.
There’s more than a full month before the straw poll is conducted and there will probably be more of those informational meetings in July.
The biggie is one being hosted by the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance on July 13 that will have both sides present to explain what incorporation would mean to the business community.
The panel that will be conducting that meeting includes the Herald’s own Chris Wille, editorial page editor.
In the interim, if you haven’t seen the Fishkind Study, or the proposed charter, take a gander. We’ve posted them to www.bradenton.com for your convenience.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.