My name is Craig Simon. I’m a database application specialist with an unusually strong interest in politics. I’ve been known to post at various sites around the Web under the handles Flywheel, Flywheel56 or @gitis.

I started this site because I was concerned about Florida’s Amendment 4 (the Hometown Democracy Amendment) and its aftermath. It initially sounded like a bid for direct democracy, which is intriguing, but not practical or wise under current circumstances. Nevertheless, given my interest in building better tools for better democracies, I wondered what kinds of systems would need to be in place if it passed, and whether I could build something that would be useful in that event.

That effort evolved into a broader project… GatorDebater.com

After watching the Amendment 4 debates closely for a couple of months, my views evolved as well. Though I long argued that it would be a mistake to replace one broken system with another, the video debates embedded in this blog led me to change my mind.

My current view is that the Yes on 4 folks thought things through pretty well. It was not an attempt at direct democracy, just a check and balance on commissioners. Amendment 4 would not have placed onerous demands on voters, and would likely have helped stabilize home values in Florida. It may indeed have raised costs of election management, but not unreasonably so, especially in light of the potential savings if voter intervention spared us from further debacles of boom and bust overbuilding.

On the other hand, the No on 4 people did nothing to address the problem of endemic corruption in Florida’s growth management oversight. They had years to prepare, and had millions of dollars at their disposal, yet I saw no effort on their part to propose alternatives to the present situation. Instead, they’ve indulged a campaign of fear-mongering and outright distortion to preserve their privileged access to power.

I decided to vote Yes on 4 because it become patently clear that voting to perpetuate the status quo would only perpetuate an epidemic of corruption.

Amendment 4 offered citizens an opportunity to “take a seat at the table.” Whether they would take full advantage of that opportunity if it were given to them is open to question. The only way to find out is to build those seats… the tools of a modern democracy that’s worthy of the name — and see if anyone uses them.