February’s lunch featured PBC GOP Executive Director Ryan Hnatiuk in support of the Republican candidates this March at the city and town level.
Municipal elected officials are the key to keeping Florida a “red state” – it is the farm team for filling spots at higher levels. Just next year for example, district 4 County Commissioner Steven Abrams and FH89 Representative Bill Hager are both term limited and both districts will be challenging to hold. (Abrams CC4 seat is D+1, and Hager’s seat is R+2). Good candidates for both of these races are needed.
Ryan is working with candidates in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Highland Beach and Lake Worth this cycle, but cautions he cannot help if there are Republicans competing against each other (as in the Gardens group 5 race which includes Joe Russo and Kevin Easton).
Since municipal races are typically about non-partisan issues like roads, taxes, capital budgets, development, etc. – there is really no rationale to discourage anyone from running, but Republican voters should at least know which of the candidates are on our side. For this, Ryan directs you to the county GOP website at www.palmbeach.gop.
Present at the meeting were some of the Palm Beach Gardens candidates who are Republicans:
PBG Candidates Michael Paolercio (grp 1), Joe Russo (grp 5), Ron Berman (grp 3)
Our January meeting was anchored by newly elected state committeeman Joe Budd.
Recently returned from Washington after having witnessed the swearing in of our new President, Joe related some anecdotes from a day filled with exuberance (like standing in line next to Diamond and Silk), and interpreted Donald Trump’s inauguration speech for us.
No one should be surprised at how Trump proceeds as President, as he has been remarkably consistent from the day of his announcement in June of 2015 right up to the executive orders he signed today. Joe was an early believer, jumping on the “Trump Train” in the summer of 2015 and serving as county Vice-Chair through the campaign.
Joe broke down the inaugural speech into five themes.
First, was an indictment of the DC establishment. He took direct aim at those seated around him and didn’t pull any punches.
Second, was the intention to transfer power to the people.
Third, a list of the policies he intends to enact – improve our schools, make neighborhoods safer, create jobs, stop the flow of drugs, insure fair trade and secure our borders. Anyone who is paying attention should note the progress on these fronts in the first days of the administration.
Fourth, a “New Vision”. Joe saw biblical references in this part, specifically from the book of Haggai, which deals with the rebuilding of the temple after a period when the people had lost their way (2:18 – “Consider now from this day forward..”).
And fifth, for all Americans, the beginnings of a national pride, where “we all bleed the same red blood of patriots”.
Joe also spoke about the state party and that he has secured a seat on the board, which along with County Chair (and state vice-chair) Michael Barnett, Peter Feaman and Cindy Tindall, gives the county 4 votes out of 33.
At the conclusion of Joe’s talk, past President Melissa Nash auctioned off some Inaugural paraphernalia that she brought back to raise money for the scholarship fund.
Next month’s meeting on Februrary 22 will feature County GOP Political Director Ryan Hnatiuk.
For those that live in Palm Beach Gardens, the club is co-sponsoring a candidate forum for the 9 city council candidates at the Gardens branch of the county library. The meeting will start at 6:15 on Tuesday, February 28 and will be moderated by WJNO radio host Brian Mudd.
Our Christmas lunch was enhanced by the sweet tones of Dimensional Harmony from Boynton Beach High School and their leader Sterling Frederick.
The a cappella chorus did a range of traditional Christmas songs, as well as some of their pop favorites, highlighted by some very excellent soloists.
The group will soon be performing at Carnegie Hall.
Mark your calendar’s for next month’s meeting on January 25 which will feature newly elected PBC Committeeman Joe Budd. Joe will discuss what to expect in the coming year, both from the Trump Administration and from RPOF.
Clear differences of opinion were expressed by our speakers at the 2016 Ballot Question Forum, hopefully providing the information needed to cast a vote for all the right reasons.
Clockwise from upper left: Cindy Tindell, Richard Pinsky, Bianca Garza, Virginia Brooks, Fred Scheibl, Bill Perry
Kicked off by moderator Fred Scheibl, who gave an overview of the questions and drilled down on amendments 3 and 5, we had pro and con speakers for the solar amendment (1), medical marijuana (2) and the county sales tax increase.
Amendment 3, which adds totally and permanently disabled first responders to the list of groups getting extra homestead exemptions, is an enabling amendment. If passed, the legislature will have to fill in the details, including the amount of the exemption.
Amendment 5 is a tweak to the previously passed amendment which provides an extra homestead exemption to low income seniors by allowing the exemption to continue, even if rising valuations raise the home value above the $250K threshold.
On the Solar Energy Amendment 1, Cindy Tindell, Vice President of Nextera Energy (parent of Florida Power & Light) explained the amendment from the utilities point of view – that the desire is to not reimburse the retail price of energy to the generating consumer as is now the practice with net metering. Utility generating plants, with all their overhead, are only reimbursed at the wholesale energy price she explained, and it is unfair to treat solar generating consumers more favorably.
Not so fast, said Ackerman public policy manager Richard Pinsky. The energy that flows back into the grid from a net metering device is only returning the energy it has already paid for at the retail price. He compared the situation to a water company charging its customers for rainwater they collected in a barrel.
That the effect of the amendment turns on the pricing model for net metering was enlightening to some, as the ballot language only talks vaguely about “subsidizing the costs of backup power and electric grid access.” An old rule of thumb says that if the effect of an amendment or statute is not easily understood, there is probably a reason – vote no if there is any doubt.
For Medical marijuana amendment 2, which came very close to passing (57.6%) in 2014, Bianca Garza, Communications Director of United for Care made the case for the effectiveness of marijuana derivatives for many medical conditions and the safety and good results that have been experienced in the states that have implemented similar programs.
Opposing the amendment, Virginia Brooks took us through a list of considerations, including non precise administration amounts, sourcing of prescriptions outside of the pharmacy system, use of a prescription drug not vetted through clinical trials, access to the drugs by children in the household, and other potential problems.
Regarding the county sales tax increase to 7%, Bill Perry, CEO of Gunster and the incoming chairman of the PBC Economic Council made the case based on the need for a long list of infrastructure repairs, and the advantages that a sales tax has over borrowing the money with a bond issue.
Opposing the tax, Fred Scheibl, argued that the infrastructure shortfall could have been addressed in the normal budget process but a conscious choice was made to divert Engineering and Public Works funds to other priorities like employee raises (12.5% in 5 years), and the proposal comes on top of the highest property taxes in county history. The sales tax is a “blunt instrument” and will raise the $2.7B whether it is needed or not. A bond on the other hand (which can be used if the tax is defeated) can borrow only enough money to address the really critical needs.
For more information on the ballot amendments and sales tax question, see our voters guide to the ballot questions.
Peter Feaman, Florida Committeeman to the Republican National Committee, gave the September lunch meeting crowd his perspective on the 2016 elections.
Admitting that Donald Trump was not his first choice (or second, or third, or…..), Peter now says he is firmly on the Trump Train, given the alternative would be so devastating to the country. Many other elites are slowly coming around now, even some of the diehard Bush people, including Donald Rumsfeld and Ari Fleischer in recent days. (By one recent poll, more than 90% of Republicans nationally are supporting Donald Trump).
In Peter’s view, it is the backlash against the do-nothing Republicans in Washington that is driving the Trump movement. After major gains in the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and state offices all across the country, there has been no effective opposition to the Obama agenda, and we are losing bigtime on the economy and the culture. It is a new populist revolt – mirrored by the Brexit vote in the UK.
Trump is the only candidate fighting the corrosiveness of political correctness, the dangers of Islamic terrorism and the invasion of illegal immigrants, and he is taking his message to places Republicans have just not gone – from the Black churches in the inner city to the Hispanic enclaves of Little Havana.
There are four requirements needed to maintain a strong country – secure borders, a common language, a shared culture, and a single strong currency. Only one candidate sees and will act on this principle.
Also at the meeting were Debbie Maken, a surrogate for her husband Sonny Maken, running for Port Commissioner, and Cindy Hite for the Rick Roth campaign (FH85).
Next month’s meeting will address the pros and cons of the five ballot questions we will decide in November – including medical marijuana, solar energy regulations and the county’s proposed 1 cent sales tax. Don’t miss it!
Every two years, during the summer of an election year, the county GOP hosts a “Jamboree” – an old fashioned political picnic for candidates on the upcoming ballot to introduce themselves to the party activists. With a barbecue lunch under the pavillion roof, surrounded by covered booths hosted by candidates and political clubs, it is gathering place for the GOP faithful and those who seek to represent them at all levels of government.
This year the event moved from its normal venue at the South County Civic Center to a more central location at John Prince Park. Hosted by Rosemary O’Mara and the club Presidents Council, it featured candidates for offices ranging from US Congress, the State Legislature, and Palm Beach County. Neither candidate for the only state-wide race on the ballot this year – US Senate, participated, but representatives for Marco Rubio and Carlos Beruff were in the crowd.
Left to right from upper left: CC1 Commissioner Hal Valeche (on the ballot 11/8), Moderator Mark Foley, Committeewoman Cindy Tindell, Carl Domino (CD18), GOP Chairman Michael Barnett, Mark Freeman (CD18), Rick Kozell (CD18), Brian Mast (CD18), Paul Spain (CD21), Rick Sessa (Sheriff), Rick Roth (FH85), Andrew Watt (FH85), Laurel Bennett (FH86), Stuart Mears (FH86), Taniel Shant (CC5), Joe Budd (State Committeeman), Christine Spain (SOE), Tom Sutterfield (SB1), Shelley Vana (Property Appraiser), William Abramson (Public Defender).
With former Congressman Mark Foley as MC, the candidates made their pitch. In the pitched battle for the CD18 seat being vacated by Patrick Murphy, we heard from August primary contenders Carl Domino, Dr. Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell and Brian Mast. Paul Spain, prepping for a rematch against Lois Frankel in CD21 will be on the ballot in November.
At the state level we heard from north county candidates for FH85 Andrew Watt (the longtime aide to Pat Rooney who is vacating the seat) and farmer Rick Roth. To the west, the FH86 primary was represented by Laurel Bennett and Stuart Mears, contenders for the seat being vacated by Mark Pafford.
On the county level we had Taniel Shant, who will face incumbent County Mayor Mary Louise Berger in the fall, Christine Spain who is facing incumbent SOE Susan Bucher, Shelley Vana who is facing fellow Democrat Dorothy Jacks for Property Appraiser, Tom Sutterfield competing in a field of 5 for School Board district 1, and William Abramson who is trying to unseat fellow Democrat Carey Houghwout for Public Defender.
Joe Budd, seeking to unseat Peter Feaman for state committeman and Cindy Tindall who is running for re-election rounded out the field.
Presenting our annual Anne Roberts Scholarships to 2 new recipients and two continuing students, PBAU Professor Wes Borucki gave us his thoughts on the Presidential election and its implications for the Supreme Court.
A Ted Cruz supporter who is now supporting our presumptive nominee Donald Trump, Wes talked about the need for party unity. Trump may be a “roll of the dice” he said, but that is much preferable to the certainty of a what a Clinton win would mean.
Hoping to avoid a court that legislates from the bench, we must avoid the kind of liberal judges Clinton would appoint, and the list that Donald Trump has published is very encouraging. Wes noted the disappointment we have had with some justices in the past, even those appointed by Republican Presidents, Roberts on Obamacare for instance. It was Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers who admonished the court to follow the constitution and not their personal views.
Regarding the electoral choices, Wes cautioned to beware the Libertarians – just look at how a Libertarian taking votes from Ken Cuccinelli installed Clinton Crony Terry Mcauliffe as Governor of Virginia. (Mcauliffe won by 2.5% with Libertarian Robert Sarvis taking 6.6% of the vote).
Quite frankly, major party realignments happen every 20 or so years. Perhaps it is time.
The 2016 Ann Roberts Scholarship winners are:
TWO NEW SCHOLARSHIPS:
Lauren Staff (Palm Beach Gardens – New Scholarship)
Lauren graduated from Dwyer High School in 2015 and is presently at Gator Land, University of Florida in her sophomore year, majoring in telecommunications. She writes for the Independent Florida Alligator Newspaper and works for ESPN Gainesville Radio 95.3 researching sports statistics. She tells us that Law School is in her future.
Jenna Calderaio (Jupiter – New Scholarship)
Jenna graduated from Jupiter Community High School this year and is headed to Seminole Land, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY,to major in business and entrepreneurship looking forward to a career in product development. She attended the Florida Sunshine Summit in Orlando witnessing 14 presidential candidates which supported her goal to be a strong conservative leader for the Republican Party on a local or national level. (Jenna could not attend the meeting.)
Dylan Brandenburg ( North Palm Beach – Returning Scholar)
Dylan will graduate in December this year from Florida State. As a major in criminology, is working this summer in our local State Attorney’s office in the White Collar Crime and Public Corruption area. He has also worked in Tallahassee with the Police Benevolent Association as well as under our CFO Jeff Atwater in the Division of Insurance Fraud. Dylan received ‘best witness” at this year’s UF Charity Mock Trial Tournament representing FSU of course! After graduation, he hopes to go to Florida State’s Law School.
Ryan Walker (Palm Beach County / Glades – Returning Scholar)
Ryan is at the University of Florida ready to graduate next year in political science and international relations. He is very active in his fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho, which is rooted in agriculture and philanthropy. He helped raise $28,000 for charities that help cancer patients. Ryan is also minoring in Agricultural and Natural Resource Law; he sees Law School in his future. Ryan is involved with Alachua Republicans, College Republicans and is volunteering with the State House for Chuck Clemons (R)
Candidates in attendance included Christina Spain (SOE), Paul Spain (CD21), and Ron Berman (FS30), along with surrogate Jim Watt for his son Andrew Watt (FH85). Allen Schlesinger, who ran for CD18 in the last cycle, said he is contemplating a run for FS30. The meeting was kicked off with a patriotic song from Chris Noel.
For the club’s first meeting in our new venue, the Holiday Inn on Belvedere, we invited representatives of all the Republican Presidential candidates to come and tell us why they have made their choice and why we should too.
Originally we were to have 7 speakers, but since Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul dropped out, we ended up with all of the remaining candidates except John Kasich who does not have a Florida organization.
To start, moderator Fred Scheibl gave a snapshot of the race to date with four states having voted, discussing delegate counts, what states vote when, the state of the polls, and a little about campaign finance. To see the handout on these topics, click HERE.
The speakers all had different points of view (as do their candidates) but there was one common thread – they are all very passionate about their candidate and strongly believe they would make the best President. All made excellent arguments on behalf of their guy.
First, speaking for Doctor Ben Carson, was JTRO President and county coordinator Barry Carson.
Barry spoke of the early days after Ben’s National Prayer Breakfast speech that generated 10 million petition signatures for him to run. A religious man, he is in it for the children, who have no future with the amount of debt we are accumulating. He wants to heal the divisions created by Obama and seeks to heal, inspire and revive the American Spirit. Author of 8 books, including “A More Perfect Union” about the constitution, Ben Carson is running a “we the people” movement to return America to you the people.
Next up was Ted Cruz County Coordinator Marion Frank.
Marion relayed that she hasn’t had a feeling like this since voting for Ronald Reagan. A defender of the constitution, Ted Cruz does just what he says he will do and doesn’t care about being liked for it by the establishment. He has not been corrupted by Washington as he has fought Obamacare and amnesty, and seeks to abolish the IRS with a flat tax. With the prospect of multiple appointments to the Supreme Court, in which we are one justice away from a radical majority, who better to trust with these appointments? Ted has won cases before them on partial birth abortion, the 2nd Amendment (Heller vs DC), defended the 10 Commandments on the grounds of the Texas state capital, and defended us against Mexico and the UN in Medellin vs Texas. If we elect the felon or the socialist on the other side, we will lose the court for a generation. Ted is the best prepared to be Commander in Chief, destroy ISIS, and dump Obama’s rules of engagement.
Next, speaking for Marco Rubio was County Coordinator Pam Wohlschlegel and Teenage Republicans leader Daniel Scroggins.
Marco is a real conservative with a lifetime score of 98% from the American Conservative Union and a Heritage rating 10th out of 535. On immigration, Marco saw the need as a new senator for immigration reform and joined the gang of 8, but the other 7 were very liberal, including the three Republicans. He showcased his ability to find shared values and improved the legislation with increased border security, mandatory e-verify, and eliminated the pathway to citizenship. He is someone who can work with the other side to get something positive for our side. Unfortunately, the bill was withdrawn and we now have nothing. Anyone who says we can round up and deport 12 million people is crazy. Dan told us that on the economy Marco sees tax reform as the key to jobs and higher wages. On national security he will be a Commander in Chief who will protect us at home and rebuild our military.
Lastly, speaking for Donald Trump was former Palm Beach Councilman Bill Diamond.
A new Trump supporter, who was for Marco Rubio only recently (and who he still likes very much), Bill feels that the time has come to unite the party with a winner. Having known Donald for 40 years going back to Queens, he feels the party must rally around someone who can turn on as he has millions of independents and Republicans who never vote. He has made an impression that no one has been able to do, and he is “sui generis” – one of a kind. Bill believes that Donald Trump is the nearest thing to Ronald Reagan. He has worked with government very successfully over many years, and Bill watched him build the Newark courthouse. He is practical, reasonable and a winner. Opening up the Republican party to millions who never vote, Donald is not ideological but there is something else in the air here. We have a winner who will change this country for the better. He is strong, tough, does what he says and his aim is “Lets Make America Great Again”.
Also introducing themselves at the meeting were candidates Rebecca Negron (CD18), Robert Goldberg (County Commission 5), Peter Noble (Greenacres Council), and surrogates John for Rick Kozell and Linda Ivell for Marc Freeman (CD18).
Our meeting next month will be on the usual 4th Wednesday of the month, March 23 at the Holiday Inn. With the Presidential Primary for Florida over and done with, we will turn our attention to Congressional District 18 and host a forum for the 9 candidates in that race. Watch the website and email for details.
At our last lunch at Bear Lakes for the forseeable future, County Chairman Michael Barnett and Political Director Ryan Hnatiuk brought the club members up to speed on plans for the upcoming election year.
With a strong focus on the importance of grassroots, Michael stressed the need to be ready with precinct walkers, phone bank callers and poll watchers long before election day, and spoke of upcoming classes and activities. Part of our success will depend on outreach, and the party is building a presence on Haitian and Hispanic radio, and showing the flag out in the community such as joining the parade on Martin Luther King day.
Building on successful fundraising at Lincoln Day and Lobsterfest we are poised to meet or exceed the 41% of the vote received by Mitt Romney in this heavily Democrat county, and the party is building the infrastructure to support candidates for municipal elections on up. For the presidential election, he committed that the county party will support whoever becomes the Republican nominee, and pledged to defeat the “disgusting socialists” Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Political Director Hnatiuk focused on some of the nuts and bolts and described a different approach to collecting absentee ballots after SOE Susan Bucher explained that volunteers can bulk collect them as long as they are not paid to do so. In 2012, the Democrats outperformed us in both Absentee and Early voting tallys. In spreading the word about the GOP candidates and policies to independents and like minded Democrats (necessary to prevail in Democrat leaning Florida), Ryan suggested the approach: “Obama may have spilled the milk, but we have the mop.”
Also speaking briefly at the meeting were candidates Billie Brooks (Riviera Beach Mayor), Rick Kozell (CD18), Peter Noble and Judy Dugo (Greenacres Council), Martha Webster (Royal Palm Beach Mayor), and Lenore White (Royal Palm Beach Council) and a surrogate for CD18 candidate Marc Freeman.
Next month we will feature a presidential campaign surrogate event at our new venue at the Holiday Inn Airport on Belvedere Road. Please note that for February only, the event will be on Thursday February 25. To date we have signed up representatives of the Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush, Huckabee and Paul campaigns, with more to follow.
On that same day, in the evening, the club is co-sponsor of a Palm Beach Gardens Council Forum at the Gardens Branch of the County Library (across from the Eissey theatre), at 6:30pm. The event will feature the three candididates for the group 4 seat: incumbent Vice Mayor David Levy, Kevin Easton, and Carl Woods. It will be moderated by former mayor Mike Martino.
Our Christmas lunch was enhanced by the sweet tones of Dimensional Harmony from Boynton Beach High School and their leader Sterling Frederick.
The a cappella chorus did a range of traditional Christmas songs, including “Silent Night”, “Silver Bells”, “I’ll be Home for Christmas”, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, as well as this year’s signature song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.
The group is soon heading to London to perform by invitation at the London International Choral Festival starting December 29.
Present at the meeting was also Retired Riviera Beach Police Major Alex Freeman who is a candidate for Sheriff.
Mark your calendar’s for next weeks meeting on January 27 which will feature PBCGOP Chair Michael Barnett and Political Director Ryan Hnatiuk.