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