One of my Destin Log readers recently asked, “Jack, why do you only write about controversial things?” The short answer? “That’s my job.” As noted in the postscript, this column is designed to start conversations in the community so that we can resolve these controversies. We don’t do that by sweeping them under the rug. Our goal is to re-unite our now-divided city and make Destin an even better place to live.
The Destin Log is our own hometown newspaper, covering local news and opinion. That’s why my column addresses only local issues. Our sister newspaper, the Northwest Florida Daily News does a good job covering national and world news.
The lingering big controversy is Mayor Scott Fischer’s proposed Gulf Power buyout. In last week’s column, I announced the Jan. 22 special city council meeting to decide that issue. I then predicted, “This controversial idea will probably get kicked down the road in hopes of changing residents’ minds.” Just as predicted, city council kicked the can down the road by voting to stay with Gulf Power for another year. One council member stated that he wanted more time to “educate the public.” In my opinion, the public is already well-educated on the mayor’s proposed buyout. They don’t want it. Some opponents refer to it as “Fischer’s Folly.”
Another reader asked, “Why do you keep writing so much about the same subjects?” That’s because these issues are still not resolved. I need something to write about. And, like low-hanging fruit, these are easy picking - the gift that keeps on giving.
Here’s another prediction: The next big thing will be the emerging battle between pro-rental owners and anti-rental owners. A volunteer committee meets at City Hall every Wednesday with a difficult, if not impossible mission. These hard-working people comprise what is called the short-term rental task force. Their task is to come up with some new single-family rental regulations that are somehow better than what is already on the books. It is not going well.
It became very heated at the last meeting, with tempers flaring and committee members interrupting and shouting at one another. There were pro-rental members on one side of the table and anti-rental members on the other. That would be OK if their task was not nearly impossible. Their frustration is understandable. I share their frustration because the answer is so obvious but also seemingly so elusive. Still, there is hope.
This column is gaining traction with Destin’s concerned citizens. People whom I don’t even know recognize me from my picture and tell me how much they appreciate what I have to say.
Next week’s column will point out some of the problems with where this rental committee is going and some suggestions on how to fix it. You can help by sending your questions and comments to The Log editor or to me as shown at the bottom of this column.
Thank you again for your support and your many comments. That makes it all worthwhile.
Jack Simpson has owned and managed rental properties in Destin since 1974 and has lived in the city since 1983. His column is designed to start conversations in the community. To respond to Jack’s column in The Log, email your letter to the editor or guest column to firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Jack directly, email email@example.com.