Trump is a shaman leading a 21st century Ghost Dance

13 Feb Donald_Trump_1106836a

By Tom Tillison

Donald Trump is the Paiute shaman Wovoka.

The phenomenon we are seeing in Donald Trump’s thus-far inexplicably successful run for the White House is reminiscent of the Ghost Dance in the late nineteenth century.

At a time when Native Americans had been subjugated by the U.S. government and most had lost all hope, a time when conditions on Indian reservations were abysmal, a spiritual movement called the Ghost Dance arose to restore hope in the people.

Led by a Paiute shaman named Wovoka, the religious awakening promised that a messiah would come and free the earth of the white man, returning the land and the buffalo to the people.


The goal of the movement was to “revitalize traditional culture and to find a way to face increasing poverty, hunger, and disease, all representing the reservation life of the Native Americans,” Maryland State Archives noted.

Enter Donald Trump.

With voters today having lost hope in the traditional parties and looking for an inspirational candidate to address their anger and discontent, Trump offers soaring rhetoric which does just that — minus any substantive details on how he will deliver on his many outlandish promises.

But Americans may want to take note that instead of delivering an answer to their prayers, the Ghost Dance resulted in travesty.

After sweeping up the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota, the movement sparked fears of an Indian uprising and eventually led to the Massacre of Wounded Knee, which marked the bloody end of the free-roaming Great Plains Indian culture.

BusinessForce applauds unanimous passage of petition initiative reforms

12 Feb crc


February 12, 2016
CONTACT: Robert Agrusa, Executive Director



BusinessForce Applauds the Unanimous Passage of the Petition Initiative Reforms by the Orange County Charter Review Commission


ORLANDO, FL (February 12, 2016) – The Orange County Charter Review Commission yesterday unanimously approved a series of important reforms that will safeguard the local citizen initiative process from out-of-state special interests.  These reforms will bring greater transparency, clarity and fairness to the citizen initiative process.  

“We cannot afford for our local government to be infected by the gridlock that grips Washington, D.C. The citizen initiative reforms were necessary to guard our community against DC-based special interest groups that target our region to push a divisive national political agenda,” said Robert Agrusa, Executive Director of Business Force. 

“Regardless of political affiliation, ideology or background, the bi-partisan Commission unanimously repudiated DC-based special interests attempts to rewrite our governing document, the County Charter.  The Commission voted to ensure that the citizen initiative process be just that, a process by which Orange County citizens can amend the Charter,” Agrusa added. 

Proposed changes were debated over a nine month period that included 14 public meetings. 

“Through a slow and deliberate process that included debate and compromise from all the members of the working group, the Charter Review Commission forged consensus around tested, common sense reforms.  The final vote is indicative of great pains taken throughout the entire process to weigh and balance concerns from the entire community.  I appreciate the due diligence of the volunteer commission, and thank them for their service to our community,” said Agrusa. 

BusinessForce is the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership. BusinessForce’s goal is to affect positive change in Central Florida through regional public policy advocacy and by encouraging and supporting candidates for public office who, as public officials, will embrace free enterprise and sound, responsible business practices in government.


Marco Rubio: ‘God is Real’

12 Feb rubio_021116_scsite

“God is real. He loves everyone who has ever lived.” ~ Marco Rubio

A great video put together that captures the strength of Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio’s faith.

Read more here: Marco’s Faith in His Own Words


Marco Rubio robot gets the ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’ treatment

12 Feb robot

By Tom Tillison

The already tiresome #RubioRobot campaign gimmick ran into a glitch today at an event in South Carolina.

As you can see, the operative got what was coming to him when he was escorted out of “Marco Rubio Country” by law enforcement … hopefully they took him all the way to the state line.

Fact Sheet: Orange County Charter Review Commission

10 Feb crc

By Linda O’Keefe

The Orange County Charter Review Commission is meeting Thursday to consider a series of proposed changes to safeguard the citizen initiative process.

The meeting is at 4:00 p.m. at the Orange County Administration Office at 201 S Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801. Public comments will be allowed and are encouraged.

Along with a number of procedural changes, substantive changes being proposed are:

1. Single Subject Requirement
2. Badges distinguishing Volunteer/Paid
3. Affidavit
4. Legal Review, Financial impact & Public hearing
5. Collection of signatures in EACH district
6. One year protection of successful initiative from repeal/amendment.

What’s a Charter?

Orange County is one of 20 counties in Florida that has it’s own County Charter. A charter is a procedural document much like the Constitution. The residents of Orange County voted to become a Charter County in 1986. The purpose of adopting a Charter is to promote “home rule” or self governance. If a county does not have its own charter, it operates more or less by the State Constitution.

What’s a Charter Review Commission (CRC)?

Every four years a commission of about 15 appointed citizens review the County Charter to consider changes. The changes offered by the CRC are then put on the general election ballot to be voted on by the county citizens. The 2016 Charter Review started in January 2015 and will run through June 2016. So, in November 2016, there may be charter amendments on the ballot that are offered by the CRC.

What do we want amended in the charter?

We want the CRC to amend the petition process in the Charter. Orange County democrat activists are being paid by radical special interest from Washington, D.C., to circulate petitions like paid sick leave to the peril of local commerce. They have targeted Orange County because we are in the swing area of the most important swing state. If we don’t safeguard our charter to this progressive attack, our county will become basket cases like Detroit or California.

What exactly is a petition process?

…It is also called “Citizen Initiative.”

There are three ways to amend the charter. One is by the county commissioners. The second is by the CRC. The third is by petition from the citizens. This third way is being perverted by well funded, radical special interests to actually expand the power of the government in Orange County. Petitions like the paid sick leave and partisan races are not being driven by citizen volunteers, they are being driven by professional petition circulators who are paid to get petitions signed.

Additional Threat

Unlike the State Constitution, that requires 60 percent of the electorate to amend, only 50 percent is required to amend the county charter. Unfortunately, this threshold cannot be increased at the local level because it is a state law. This simple majority of 50 percent makes our charter very vulnerable to mob-rule in Orange County. This type of direct democracy can subvert the republic form of government which our founders gave us, and this is not good for our county.

What can you do?

The CRC needs to hear from concerned citizens NOW or it will not do what needs to be done. You need to help us be the “PUBLIC OUTCRY” by attending a meeting and speaking in support of changing the petition process.

These are the following solutions we support:

  1. Require Legal Review & Financial Impact Statement for Petition Initiatives
  2. Make representation FAIR by requiring petitions be collected in ALL districts not just Majority.
  3. Provide accountability and transparency through badges, disclosures and affidavits requirements for petition circulators who are paid rather than volunteers.

Related articles:

No Orange County, your ‘democracy’ is not under attack – but your charter is

BusinessForce supports transparency and fairness in the Orange County citizen initiative process

BusinessForce supports Orange County initiative petition reforms

10 Feb bf_2010header



February 10, 2016

CONTACT: Robert Agrusa, Executive Director



BusinessForce Supports Initiative Petition Reforms


ORLANDO, FL (February 10, 2016) – After nine months and 14 public meetings, the Orange County Charter Review Commission will vote tomorrow to adopt important changes to the citizen initiative process that will prevent out-of-state special interest groups from influencing our local charter review process and using our county’s governing document to advance their respective political agendas.

“Unfortunately, the current process allows for Washington, DC-based special interest groups, whose only concern is the national political significance of our region, to hijack the process and rewrite the sacred governing document of our county, the County Charter. — See more HERE.

The proposed changes, if approved by the voters, will also bringing the Orange County signature gathering requirements in alignment with the state of Florida’s, ensuring equal and fair representation from residents of all six County Commission districts.  And, in an effort to enhance transparency and clarity, reforms related to the collection process have been drawn from other charter counties in the state of Florida and the nation.

“Like the Florida Constitution, the Orange County Charter is intended to set forth the basic framework for county governance and it is not intended to be cluttered with the agendas of Washington, DC-backed special interests. We must uphold its integrity by safeguarding it with these pragmatic and well-defined reforms,” said Robert Agrusa, Executive Director of BusinessForce.

“Close examination of each reform demonstrates that the Orange County Charter Review Commission methodically and deliberately drew upon tested best practices to bring clarity, transparency and fairness to the initiative process,” said Agrusa.

Included below are the specific provisions under consideration:

Single Subject Requirement

  • We support that proposed initiative petitions (for both Charter amendments and ordinances) be subject to a single subject requirement, namely that they “shall embrace but one subject and matter directly connected therewith.”
  • This requirement provides consistency with the standard for state constitutional amendments by initiative and by adding a single subject requirement brings Orange County (one of the few charter counties in the state without a single subject requirement) into line with the majority of charter counties.
  • It promotes clarity and makes it easier for a voter to understand what is being proposed, and helps prevent voter confusion.

Petition Gatherer Badge Requirement Identifying Whether Volunteer or Paid

  • We support that each petition gatherer circulating a county initiative petition will be required to wear a badge that states “Volunteer Gatherer” or “Paid Gatherer,” as the case may be, in a form and manner specified by ordinance.
  • The badge requirement provides a level of needed transparency to the initiative petition process. A potential signer will be able to assess whether the petition gatherer is motivated by principle or profit.
  • This requirement helps identify whether an initiative is “grassroots” based on popular local support, and conversely helps address the issue of “outside interests” coming into the county to propose issues that may not be in the best interest of the county’s citizens.
  • This provision is also designed to be flexible, since the County Commission will specify the form and manner of wearing the badge by ordinance, and thus can tailor requirements so they are not burdensome or costly.
  • The benefits of transparency and petition signer education far outweigh this burden.
  • This is constitutional permissibility as five states currently require this badge requirement: Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon and Wyoming.

Petition Gatherer’s Affidavit

  • We support the circulated petition form must contain an affidavit to be completed and signed by the petition gatherer for each petition circulated, providing the name and address of the petition gatherer, whether he or she was paid or volunteer, and, if paid, by whom and on what basis (hourly, per-signature, other).
  • The petition gatherer will also affirm that the petition was signed in the petition gatherer’s presence, the petition signer had sufficient time to read the petition language, and the signature on the petition is believed to be the genuine signature of the petition signer.
  • An affidavit requirement for petition gatherers provides a degree of desired transparency to the initiative petition process and all of these requirements were gathered from similar provisions in other county charters, or from requirements of other states that have withstood constitutional challenge.
  • It discloses to the public in a documented way whether a petition gatherer has been paid or was a volunteer, who is paying the petition gatherer and on what basis.
  • It fosters a better understanding by the signer of the subject matter of the petition by encouraging an opportunity to read it before signing and it promotes honesty on the part of the petition gatherer and helps prevent fraud in signature gathering.
  • A statutory written declaration “under penalty of perjury” will be used rather than a notary acknowledgment which results in additional burden and cost to the petition sponsor.

Legal Review

  • We support the concept of a legal review that will be conducted by a Legal Review Panel, comprised of three attorneys licensed to practice law in Florida who have demonstrated experience in Florida local government law and who are selected on a bi-annual basis through the county’s purchasing process applicable to legal services.
  • This requirement follows the lead of a neighboring charter county (Brevard), which has had a legal review panel process in place for some time and, based on inquiry, has found it to be beneficial.
  • Within 20 days after the 1% signature requirement is met, the Legal Review Panel will meet to render a written determination whether the proposed initiative petition satisfies the single subject requirement and is consistent with the Florida Constitution, general law and restrictions of the Charter.
  • If at least two members of the Legal Review Panel find that the petition satisfies these requirements, the petition process continues. If, however, two or more panelists find that it does not satisfy the requirements, the current petition drive ends and the petition must be corrected to satisfy the requirements before a new petition drive starts.
  • The Legal Review Panel will also be charged with ensuring the petition language is clear and not misleading. This legal requirement provides a mechanism for review of the petition language other than by going to court, which is more costly and time-consuming.
  • The legal review benefits the sponsor of an initiative petition by passing on the legality of the petition early in the process so it can be withdrawn and/or corrected unlike paid leave in 2012.
  • It also may benefit the sponsor by making the initiative less likely to be challenged upon completion.
  • The requirement for a legal review early in the process can save county resources on costly legal challenges which might otherwise occur later in the process.
  • The Legal Review Panel decision may still be overturned later in the process if challenged in court however, the substantial benefits of a legal review that potentially avoids litigation and provides valuable legal feedback to petition sponsors and the public far outweigh the risks.

Financial Impact Statement

  • We support that within 20 days after the 1% signature requirement is met, the Comptroller will prepare and transmit to the sponsor of the petition, the Board of County Commissioners, and the Supervisor of Elections, a separate financial impact statement, not exceeding 75 words.

*  The impact statement will estimate the increase or decrease in any revenues or costs to the county, local governments or to the citizens resulting from the approval of the proposed initiative petition.

* This financial impact statement will be placed on the ballot immediately following the ballot question.

* This financial impact statement will fall in line with the current standard by which a Constitutional Amendment is placed on the ballot in the State of Florida.

  • In addition, upon receipt of the financial impact statement, the sponsor of the petition will prepare and submit to the Supervisor of Elections a revised petition form containing the financial impact statement.

* The Supervisor of Elections, within 15 days after submittal of the revised petition form containing the financial impact statement, then renders a determination on the form of the revised petition.

*  At least 75% of the signed total petitions verified by the Supervisor of Elections must include the financial impact statement.

  • This financial impact statement helps educate the public on the cost of an initiative, in taxpayer dollars and requires that the financial impact statement be placed on a revised petition form which will provide transparency by informing petition signers of the financial impact of the initiative if adopted.
  • Placing the financial impact statement on the ballot helps ensure that the financial impact of a proposal is considered by voters at the critical time of voting.
  • Lastly, specifying that the financial impact analysis be prepared by the Orange County Comptroller ensures that the independent analysis is prepared by an office equipped with sufficient expertise that acts autonomously from the Board of County Commissioners.
  • We believe that the substantial educational benefits of a financial impact statement independently prepared and placed before the voters on the petition form and ballot far outweigh any additional obligations and costs.

Public Hearing

  • We support that within 60 days after notification of legality by the Legal Review Panel, a public hearing will be required to be held on the petition before the Board of County Commissioners.
  • Holding a public hearing to address the merits of the proposal early in the initiative petition process helps educate the public and provides transparency by allowing a longer period of time for the community to review, discuss and fully understand the pros and cons of the initiative.
  • It also allows the County Commission to consider the merits of the proposal and act independently upon it if appropriate.

Remove Requirement of BCC to Call Referendum and Automatic Placement on the Ballot

  • We support the removal of the requirement that the Board of County Commissioners must affirmatively vote to place a qualified initiative petition on the ballot takes out a step in the process that could effectively kill the petition process and makes this a true citizen-led initiative.
  • Now the Charter will specify that the initiative will be automatically placed on the ballot after verification of sufficient signatures by the Supervisor of Elections

Number of Signatures – 10% of Electors in Each Commission District

  • We support the recommendation that the number of signatures necessary for a charter amendment by initiative be changed from 10 percent of the county electors in a majority of the commission districts to 10 percent of the county electors in each commission district.
  • Such a change makes charter amendments by initiative consistent with ordinances by initiative under the Orange County Charter, which requires a percentage of signatures from all County Commission districts.
  • It closes the current loophole that effectively allows only 6.67% of registered voters in the County to approve a petition drive (due to the present requirement that the requisite signatures be obtained only in a majority of the commission districts), and brings Orange County in line with other charter counties. (Orange County is unique in its “percentage from a majority of districts” structure.)
  • In order to place a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot for the entire state of Florida, each initiative is required to have a percentage of signers per congressional district, why should Orange County be any different than the State threshold. 
  • 8 of 20 charter counties in Florida has at least 10% requirement including Miami Dade, Pinellas, and our neighbors in Osceola.
  • Currently only 4 counties (Brevard, Duval, Sarasota, and Volusia) have requirements that are less that our current threshold of 6.67% and all but one are much smaller charter counties.
  • This recommendation was strongly supported in public comments over multiple public meetings of the work group and was based on the concerns that some districts have intentionally been avoided in past petition drives.
  • The recommendation provides for better public input across all districts on charter amendment petitions, and for equal participation and representation of all districts, thereby avoiding the disenfranchisement of districts or specific areas of our county.
  • In other words, it preserves the principle of “One Person, One Vote.”
  • The Charter should be sacred as it is our governing document of our county and should not be easily amended, and certainly should not be easier to amend than an ordinance could be.

No Amendment or Repeal of a Successful Charter Amendment by Initiative for One Year after Effective Date

  • We support that if a charter amendment by initiative petition is successful in passage, it should not be subject to amendment or repeal for a period of one year after its effective date.
  • This would allow reasonable time to determine whether an amendment works and it benefits the sponsor of a successful initiative petition by protecting the amendment for at least a year from repeal or change.
  • These protections for charter amendments by initiative provides consistency between charter amendments and ordinances by initiative, which presently have the one year protection.

Removing Special Election from Elections at which Initiative Petition can be Held

  • We support the recommendation that “special elections” should be removed as elections at which a referendum can be held on an initiative petition.
  • With this removal, the Charter more simply provides that a referendum be held at the next primary or general election occurring at least 150 days after verification of sufficient signatures.
  • Such change provides clarity and predictability as to when the question will be placed on the ballot and 15 of 20 county charters already apply this method.
  • It allows the petition sponsor to more effectively select the election at which the initiative will be considered by the voters and Supervisor Cowles concurred that the change simplifies the initiative petition process overall and provides clarity and predictability.

Require Petition Sponsor’s Registration as a Political Committee

  • We support that the sponsor of an initiative petition must “register as a political committee as required by general law.”
  • This requirement has long been the law under Florida election law, but a number of county charters state it expressly in order to help those pursuing charter and ordinance amendments by providing a single source for guidance in working through the process.
  • At BusinessForce, we are held accountable for disclosing our donors, our relationships with all public and private organizations, and our agenda. I think it is fair that anyone who is trying to amend our County Charter should be held to the same standard without hiding under another tax exempt status.

“BusinessForce recognizes and appreciates the hard work of the dedicated citizens of Orange County who have given their time to this important issue,” concluded Agrusa.

BusinessForce is the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership. BusinessForce’s goal is to affect positive change in Central Florida through regional public policy advocacy and by encouraging and supporting candidates for public office who, as public officials, will embrace free enterprise and sound, responsible business practices in government.


No Orange County, your ‘democracy’ is not under attack – but your charter is

9 Feb crc


By Tom Tillison

Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell is using his platform to target common sense measures to ensure transparency and fairness in the Orange County citizen initiative process, painting this effort as a sinister attempt to “attack your democracy.”

The changes are part of the charter-review process, which takes place every four years, and will be decided by voters in November if approved by the Orange County Charter Review Commission — a detail Maxwell conveniently skims over in his exhaustive rant.

But he was quick to label the changes as “anti-citizen proposals” in an attempt to stir up emotions.

Looking past our representative form of government, Maxwell makes a push for “direct pipelines to democracy.” He tells readers it is “very hard” for “citizens … to place an idea on the ballot,” noting that only two times in 30 years have enough signatures been collected to accomplish this.

Considering these are changes to the charter — the county’s version of a constitution — the process is not intended to be haphazard. Furthermore, the proposed changes bring our charter more in line with the other 19 charter counties in the state.

The two efforts Maxwell points to occurred in the last two election cycles, the first was paid sick leave and the other an effort to make charter office elections partisan and have countywide charter office elections — county mayor — placed on the same cycle as presidential elections. The second initiative did not pass, but would have been a boon to the local Democratic Party, which has a huge lead in the number of registered voters in the county.

Maxwell speaks of these efforts as “citizen-led,” but it’s critical to understand a simple fact: a Washington based liberal lobbying firm, Leadership Center for the Common Good, contributed nearly $150,000 to the two citizen initiatives. Thousands more poured in from liberal groups in New York and California.

And the Orange County Democratic Party was a key player in both efforts.

This is important because many Orange County residents convinced to support these initiatives were clueless about who was really behind them.

Maxwell condemns the “vested special interests” who back the proposed changes to our charter — changes that will better protect it from being bought by deep-pocketed outside sources. But in his effort to mislead, he ignores the special interests who propped up the recent ballot initiatives.

He even belittles the efforts of the charter review work group, which held 14 public meetings over a period of nine months to come up with the well thought out proposals — a painstaking process that drew from other charter counties in the state.

Labeling them as “cronies,” Maxwell characterized these unpaid volunteers as “a great white shark after a wounded seal.” And claims they want to “make it harder for citizens to pass new laws.”

Never mind that duly elected representatives are tasked with passing laws. But Maxwell’s agenda is to push for direct democracy, which is always popular when voter registration numbers work in your favor.

“You see, they hate it when you try to take democracy into your own hands,” he wrote.

What Maxwell doesn’t tell you is that manipulating local charters is a now-standard tactic for liberal special interest groups. In fact, the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center conducts annual seminars to teach professional activists to “strengthen democracy by building a national progressive strategy for ballot measures.”

And yes, local activists here in Orange County have attended these seminars, to include one who worked directly for an individual who was quoted this week in the Orlando Sentinel pushing the misleading narrative that it’s all local.

The truth is, unencumbered residents of Orange County support the need to shore up our county charter and have sat in on every meeting over a 9 month period to voice their concerns.

These citizens, part of the Coalition for Good Governance in Orange County, of which I am a member, believe our charter should not be for sale to the highest bidder and they have been engaged from day one.

The business community also supports these changes.

“Common-sense reforms that mirror the best practices at the state level and in other counties protect the integrity of the process and ensure transparency for voters,” Robert Agrusa, executive director of BusinessForce, said Monday in a press release.

“I applaud the hard work and due diligence of the Initiative Petitions Work Group and I look forward to the Charter Review Commission continuing to take the necessary steps to ensure transparency and accountability, so that Orange County voters can make an informed decisions in the future,” Agrusa added.

In the end, most members of the charter review board are not politicians and are likely to wilt in the face of strong political winds — and boy are they a’blowing.

Beginning with Scott Maxwell throwing out the canard that your democracy is under attack. He even plays up the notion of a vast conspiracy with the nonsense about the work group opting not to get input from the full charter commission. The very same charter commission they will report their findings to.

No, your democracy is NOT under attack — but your charter is.

…under attack by Washington-based liberal social justice forces. Orange County residents must understand the grave economic consequences of this assault and show the will and fortitude to take a stand in favor of strengthening the county charter.