The 2014 midterm election is finally behind us, and the results could not have been worse for Democrats — be it nationally, statewide or locally.
Political experts are calling it a wave election, although locally you could just call it a bloodbath.
Orange County Democrats not only saw their entire Florida House delegation go down in defeat, but lost on all four ballot initiatives, including their crown jewel, Question C.
A somewhat surprising turn of events, considering the Democratic Party holds a lead of nearly 100,000 registered voters — the Oompa Loompa Tan Man bagged 36,000+ more votes in Orange County than his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott.
Nevertheless, before we move on to new battles, we thought we’d gloat one last time by taking a look at the reaction of some of the local progressive activists as Election Night unfolded, courtesy of social media.
As the polls closed on Tuesday, Scott Randolph, the “leader” of the progressive movement, and former chairman of the local party, posted some stats to let the foot soldiers know they had good reason to hope:
But Randolph’s numbers only served to set the ACORN faithful up for a harder fall.
Their favorite newspaper man, Scott Maxwell, was an earlier harbinger of bad news. Maxwell was posting election results on his Facebook wall, and within the first hour he noted that things were looking bleak for the local Florida House delegation.
He posted another update 20 minutes later, which would prove to be his last for the evening — apparently he could take no more of the devastating news.
By this point, there was no escaping the hard truth. Everything the ACORN folks had worked so hard for was going down in flames. Social media grew quiet for a while, presumably as the bad news settled in.
Among the first to accept the harsh reality was Stephanie Porta, community organizer extraordinaire. Ever the consummate professional, she blamed it all on evil capitalism!
The evening had turned into a nightmare, but loyal aide and Orange County Tax Collector Community Relations Coordinator Kelly Quintero tried to sum things up with this message of encouragement:
All the excitement proved to be too much for the progressive movement’s high strung non-Sentinel scribe, Billy Manes:
Susannah Randolph was next to add to the drama of what was proving to be a difficult night:
Of course, Randolph took it better than some. I’m still awaiting a reply from the Guinness Book of Records, but this next message could be a contender for most “F-bombs” in a single post. Suffice it to say, this is one unhappy camper:
We know monkeys are intelligent, but who could have guessed that they are able to craft ballot language for charter questions?
And use legal dictionaries and dart boards to boot!
That’s the assertion Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell made last week when he offered his folksy two-cents on four potential changes to the Orange County charter voters will be deciding on in the upcoming election.
The thought of monkeys and dart boards conjures up a vision of the columnist throwing darts at a board covered with images of the Republican commissioners as he penned his missive — better known as “the hacks on the commission,” as he labeled them in his column.
In this scenario, can there be any doubt that Commissioner Fred Brummer’s mug would be resting on the bulls eye?
Not only does Maxwell continue the myth that professional activists well compensated by labor unions and other liberal organizations are nothing more than “citizens,” he eagerly embraces the potential for them to “take democracy into their own hands.”
In addressing Question A, he looks past our representative form of government to talk about being able to “directly petition” the commission. This is known as direct democracy, which often goes by another name — mob rule.
The expanded 150 day time limit allows locals more time to better understand how ballot initiatives may affect the community before voting on them, and for this reason alone voters should vote YES on A.
He tells readers that Question B will “ban” them from addressing economic issues, which is disingenuous. These issues can certainly be addressed through those elected to represent the community — that is what they are there for. If you don’t like their decisions, vote them out.
The economic issues he speaks of — favored by labor unions — will limit local opportunity. Voting YES on B will prevent out-of-state special interests from forcing a job-killing agenda on Orange County.
Maxwell gets it right on Question C, vote NO — even a broken clock is accurate twice a day.
He ripped those behind Question D for combining two issues, but wasn’t nearly as harsh on Democrats for doing the same thing on C. In the end, this issue will help protect Orange County from polarizing political agendas — and establish term limits — and voters should vote YES on D.
In baseball jargon, a great pitch is preceded by a proper setup, and in this case, Maxwell’s setup stinks. Which means Orange County voters can’t trust that he’s throwing strikes — vote NO on C and ignore Maxwell and vote YES on Questions A, B and D.
If I had a nickel for every time I was called an extremist, I’d have a lot of nickels.
Just this weekend I was told I have “extreme thoughts,” coming from a person who stands against those who disparage members of the community who act or think differently than others.
Realizing that folks who throw around the extremist label are just repeating a narrative that has been drum-beat into their psyche by the political class and a complicit media, I typically don’t push back — funny how we’re more receptive to messaging that is consistent with our core beliefs.
To expect a fair, open-minded discussion here is expecting a world that never was, and never will be. But in a moment of frivolity, and boredom, I decided to inquire as to why this individual saw me as extreme.
I participate in political discussions on a Facebook page dominated by liberals, but much of that time is dedicated to exposing professional activists on the left who have a penchant for claiming to represent the community — a ruse the local media can’t get enough of.
But rarely do I delve into my personal beliefs, and the moral busybodies on the left, trapped by the bounds of their own self serving sanctimony, seldom ask.
I admit that I was part of the tea party early on, at least until I had my fill of self serving charlatans driven by ambition who succeeded in pushing themselves to the forefront. People hoping to take advantage of the Republican Party’s vast resources who not only turned a blind eye, but in some cases were complicit as the party began to exert its will on the movement.
When I realized that I could still advocate for issues and candidates that are important to me without the tea party, and in the process surround myself with folks who had their priorities in order, I bid adieu to those out for personal gain.
But all that aside, when I asked for clarification on what constitutes “extreme thoughts,” the response was to be asked about my views on same sex marriage.
An interesting inquiry, considering I have invested little time on the issue.
My personal belief is that, regardless of how you feel about “marriage equality” — the new code word for same sex marriage — that ship has already set sail and those who believe in the sanctity of marriage where left on shore.
At the same time, it’s hard to argue that it’s not discrimination to tell a man and woman they can marry, but tell two people of the same sex they cannot. Which I stated in my response to him, along with the belief that it’s not government’s role to decide who we can marry.
Never did I say whether I support same sex marriage or not, but my answer seemed to pass muster. Convinced he would not call me an extremist on that issue alone, I asked for other reasons but none were forthcoming.
While marveling at the idea that a single issue could result in me being seen as a person who holds extreme or fanatical views, I wondered if this was a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
I get it that the push for marriage equality is part of a bigger pursuit by the gay community for “all the semblances of normalcy,” as Erick Erickson stated. But to cast aside the religious convictions of so many who feel otherwise and force them to approve, then I ask: Who’s the real extremist?
But this is not about same sex marriage, it’s about being called an extremist. And if you choose to assign that label to me, at least do it for the right reasons.
I believe government has grown too large and is involved in too many aspects of our lives; I believe government spends too much; I believe there are elements in both parties out to secure votes by expanding entitlements in America; I believe there is an ongoing effort to undermine the free market system in America, or at least what’s left of it, and move the country away from self reliance and personal responsibility; I believe there are those seeking to remove God from our society.
And I believe the Marxist-inspired “progressive movement” in America, heavily funded by organized labor, plays a pivotal role in all these things.
I oppose the progressive-led Democratic Party with all my being, seeing it as a clear and present danger to the great experiment known as the United States of America; I thoroughly dislike what the Republican Party represents and am astonished that the elitists who control it are so easily outclassed by the left in all but self enrichment; I am disgusted with what the tea party has become; and find the Libertarian Party’s only redeeming quality to be that they can be counted on to do more harm than good.
Come to think of it, maybe I am an extremist.
By Tom Tillison
Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh was given a platform by the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday as a “guest columnist” to state his opposition to Orange County Charter Proposal Question D — which would establish Term Limits and Non-Partisan elections for constitutional offices.
For clarity, constitutional offices include the Orange County Sheriff, Tax Collector, Clerk of Courts, Supervisor of Elections, and yes, the Property Appraiser.
While not surprised that the Sentinel would give Singh, a progressive Democrat, such a platform, my initial thought was to wonder how long I would have to wait to see an opposing point of view given the same opportunity.
But the more I thought about it, the more outraged I became.
It seems to be an easy reach to say that were it not for his position as an elected official, Singh likely would not have been given this advantageous opportunity — despite their dwindling numbers, the Sentinel still reaches enough folks to sway the direction of local issues. (Just ask a few Republican politicians.)
Folks may or may not agree that it makes sense to remove politics from constitutional offices — who wants a partisan Sheriff? — but to allow an elected official who stands to directly benefit from not adopting this measure to publicly advocate against it in the hometown newspaper certainly gives the appearance of impropriety.
At a minimum.
The more vocal among us may say, as an elected official, it’s an abuse of power.
With Orange County Democrats holding an edge of almost 100,000 registered voters, Singh would certainly benefit when he is up for reelection in 2016 if he can place his party affiliation next to his name.
Yet, he dares to claim that making these offices non-partisan “will only heighten political partisanship.” But it doesn’t take much imagination to suggest that he’d be the first to scream from the heavens IN FAVOR of non-partisan elections if Republicans held the 100,000 advantage.
It’s a given that Singh’s actions here are self-serving, and sadly, we’ve come to accept that as the norm from politicians these days.
But are the actions of the Orlando Sentinel so easily swept aside? Is it acceptable that an elected official was given a platform to push an issue that he stood to gain from? Are there no standards left for ethical journalism? At a minimum, do they not owe it to the community to provide balance and offer an opposing point of view from someone of equal stature?
A lot of questions I know, but the future of Orange County is going to be rather dismal if residents don’t start seeking answers soon.
I am really glad to see that a prominent Florida minister, Bishop Victor T. Curry-who happens to be black, is publicly calling on the Florida School Boards Associations and Florida teachers unions to drop their lawsuit against the nations largest private school choice program. Bishop Curry says it is “cruel irony” that the FEA and FSBA would file against the tax credit scholarship program on August 28, the anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King.
This harkens us back to the image of Democrat Governor George Wallace’s attempt to block the entry of black students into a “white” school. Today, it is the Democrat-supported Unions & School Boards who are blocking predominately black students from leaving their failing schools. Kudos to Bishop Curry for standing up against these public school zealots! We must put students first by increasing access to all forms of education.
In an email, The Greater Orlando Tea Party announced its opposition to Florida State Amendment #1: The Water and Land Conservation Initiative saying “it will reduce the amount of privately owned property and negatively impact local revenues. It also intrudes on the legislature’s fiduciary responsibility to allocate our state’s revenues in the interests of our entire state.Important- Amendment 1 on November 4th Florida Ballot”.
The content of the email follows:
Absentee Ballots are going out Sept 30th.
Please vote NO on Amendment 1!
An Analysis of Amendment 1: The Water and Land Conservation Initiative
BALLOT TITLE: Water and Land Conservation – Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.
BALLOT SUMMARY: Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.
Amendment 1 alters SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund to include:
a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents. b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes: 1) As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands. 2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e). c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state.
IMPACT ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
Amendment One departs From a Historical Philosophical Perspective of Private Property
In the first half of our nation’s history, it was the practice of the government to encourage private ownership through land grants and other such vehicles. This amendment reverses that tradition. It seems to embrace a philosophy found in this quote (a philosophy which is supported by many of the pro-conservation/sustainable development organizations):
“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market.
Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle…
Public control of land use is therefore indispensable to its protection as an asset…”
From the Preamble, UN Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 1976
Amendment One Departs From Our Founding Fathers’s Intent For Private Property
Our Founding Fathers placed safeguards into our Constitution as a hedge or safeguard against government tyranny. As a result, America became an exceptional and unique place on earth by virtue of being founded upon the right of private citizens to own and use property.
Amendment One dangerously opens the door for government to own and control more land. That means less land is owned and control by private property owners. This amendment presents an alternative view to that intended by our founding fathers.
Today, more than 50% of the American west is owned by government. In the state of Utah, 87% of the land is owned and controlled by the federal government. Despite efforts by the state to reclaim their land, the federal government refuses to return it.
Giving government large sums of money to buy land puts Florida on a trajectory similar to Utah.
The intent of this amendment is primarily land acquisition for the purpose of conservation.
IMPACT ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGETS
As the amount of government owned lands increases, two things happen fiscally:
First, the amount of private lands on the tax rolls will be decreased. Therefore, tax revenues will decrease making less funding available for things like law enforcement, first responders, local services, infrastructure maintenance, and local education. Local governments will have to raise property taxes or take the unprecedented step of cutting their budgets.
Second, more taxpayer money will need be diverted to pay for increased maintenance cost of ever increasing amounts of conservation lands. Currently, the state lacks money to maintain the properties owned by government.
Counties with the most land in government owned conservation lands, have the highest tax rates.
IMPACT ON THE STATE BUDGET
It is the Florida Legislature’s constitutional responsibility to work with the Governor to craft an annual balanced budget to meet the needs of our state. Through the Legislature, all the needs of the state are considered, debated, and approved by elected representatives. This is designed to address in a balanced way, the comprehensive state needs.
Amendment One restricts the Legislature’s ability and flexibility to budget or allocate funding for an array of state-wide critical needs such as transportation, education, affordable housing, and economic development, etc.
The purchase of land by government is a one-time expense. The maintenance of government property is a growing, on-going expense to also be accounted for. In other words, as government ownership of land increases, so maintenance costs increase including more employees, more facilities, and more equipment.
IMPACT ON THE STATE ECONOMY
Nearly one-third of Florida lands is used for agriculture. Agriculture, including farming and ranching, is one of our state’s top economic engines providing jobs and produce. And, Amendment One names both for purchase. The majority of lands put into conservation make little to no contribution to the economy. As private land with its real or potential contribution to our state’s economy is removed from production, it moves from becoming a producer of revenue to becoming a user of revenue. Thus, the state’s is weakened. Less land in production means our state is less productive and less competitive in the world.
IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Today, more than 27% of Florida is already in conservation (The Florida Natural Areas Inventory). Add lands for government facilities and the amount of land owned by government is more than 30%.
Florida has more land per square mile under government ownership than any other state east of the Mississippi River. The amount of government owned land will be greatly increased if a projected $18 B were to become available for additional land purchases.
Sustainable Development groups of UN AGENDA 21 have plans to purchase millions of additional acres for additional parks, wildlife refuges, wildlife corridors, forests and conservation areas, just to name a few. Amendment One supplies the cash to do so.
Amendment 1 would be an unneeded and harmful addition to the Florida Constitution. It will reduce the amount of privately owned property and negatively impact local revenues. It also intrudes on the legislature’s fiduciary responsibility to allocate our state’s revenues in the interests of our entire state.
Nearly one-third of our state is owned by government. Approximately another third is in agriculture. Documentary transaction stamps are already used to fund a number or environmental programs. A growing economy already allows for more money to be allocated for government land purchases.
Alternatives to buying land exist.
One option would be to purchase conservation rights from farmers. This prevents such lands from being developed but allows the farms to remain in private ownership and in production.
Another option should be considered. Doc stamps are expensive, adding significantly to the transaction costs of real estate. Why not reduce or eliminate the Doc Stamp tax altogether to help, in no small way, all Floridians to exercise their rights of property ownership?