After two hours of mostly negative public commentary from people who admittedly had neither read the plan nor were familiar with it, the Seven50 Prosperity Plan Draft was presented Nov. 7 to the St. Lucie Board of County Commissioners. Ultimately, the commission accepted the data as presented in the Seven50 Prosperity Plan while, at the same time, voting to withdraw from participation the Seven50 Plan Partnership.
Echoing the words of many of the opponents who acknowledged their lack of familiarity with the plan, Clay Humphries, a St. Lucie resident, said: “I don’t know your plan because I haven’t heard it, and I won’t be here to hear it.” Comments from opponents included a broad range of theories. Rosa Koire, a traveling representative from the Post Sustainability Institute, an anti-Agenda 21 organization based in California, accused the plan of being part of an international conspiracy. Bill King, an Indian River resident, said, “This is a global conspiracy by the United Nations trying to make everyone a zombie.”
In general, the primary concerns of the speakers from the public, many from St. Lucie but many from elsewhere, was that the Seven50 plan would cause their way of life to change and force their local governments to cede control to federal government institutions. Alan Schlesinger from Palm Beach County said in opposition to the plan: “The farther away the decision-making process is from the people, the worse the decisions are.” Ironically, his words echo a central principle of the plan, which reads: “There is more local control when power continues to be delegated to the group most affected by governmental decisions.”
Applause followed most anti-plan speeches, while jeers followed most speakers who wished to hear the presentation of the plan and urged opponents to take a “wait-and-see” approach rather than rushing to prematurely criticize. Commissioner Tod Mowery had to ask the audience on several occasions to “be polite.” The jeers and public outbursts made it difficult for residents like Gregory Wilson of Port St. Lucie, who expressed his frustration with the meeting when he said, “This is the problem: people are talking, they say something they don’t agree with, and the audience interrupts them. In our county, we can’t have discussion without being interrupted.” Similarly, Theresa Toulon of Port St. Lucie added, “I came here because I wanted to know more about the Seven50 plan.”
After a brief recess, a significantly smaller portion of the audience members returned to watch the actual presentation of the Draft Plan by Project Director Marcela-Camblor Cutsaimanis and other members of the consultant team. The presentation emphasized the multi-year, broadly inclusive public process that created the draft plan.
Following the presentation of the plan, Commission Vice Chair Paula Lewis, the sole vote against withdrawing from the Seven50 Plan Partnership said, “I don’t see anything in this document that tells me I have to do anything. There are no actions mandated, no decision-making process endorsed or suggested.” She emphasized Florida’s strong emphasis on property rights and reassured the audience members that their rights would not be diminished by the plan.
Nonetheless, Commissioner Frannie Hutchinson said, “There was a lot of great information, and I do appreciate the data that came out of this,” but she went on to say, “There is no plan; there is no way to predict, to trend, graph or legislate economic success.”
Commissioner Mowery requested a motion to withdraw from Seven50. Commissioner Hutchinson motioned to accept the data as presented in the Seven50 Prosperity Plan and withdraw from the Seven50 Partnership, which was seconded by Commissioner Kim Johnson. The motion passed 4-1.
“We regret that there is significant misunderstanding and prejudice against Seven50 by opponents within the general public, many of whom have not even taken the time to read the plan or to understand its purpose,” Project Director Camblor-Cutsaimanis said after the meeting. “Ironically, the plan is designed to address the concerns they raised at the meeting and help make their visions reality, including protecting their local property rights. We hope that more members of the public will take the time to read and familiarize themselves with the plan, engage with us online and visit our website at Seven50.org, before making unfounded assumptions.”
Video showing the entire meeting is available at: