August Lunch Featured County Commissioner Steven Abrams

August speaker Commissioner Steven Abrams gave us a county update, and some musings on the events of the day today at the Airport Holiday Inn.

As a term-limited Commissioner with 15 months remaining, he described the difficulty in seeking higher office for any Republican in Palm Beach County. After a successful challenge by the League of Women Voters after the 2012 redistricting, in which coastal and inland districts (aligned with unique and different interests) were forced into two east/west districts with significant Democrat majorities, we are left with CD21 (Lois Frankel’s D+17 district) and CD22 (Ted Deutch’s D+14 district which is mostly in Broward). There is also Alcee Hasting’s minority interest district (CD20 which is D+49) and northern CD18 (R+3) which is already held by a Republican – Brian Mast.

Steven joked that Ted Deutch told him how his district had improved – with the Broward area he now has three “Century Villages” and two “King’s Points” – areas where Republicans are an endangered species.

When the redistricting for county offices was in the planning stages, he looked into expanding his district 4 north into Palm Beach (it now ends at South Palm Beach). (“At least he would get invited to better parties.”) Unfortunately, districts have to be contiguous and the minority interest district 7 needed a piece of the island to connect Riviera Beach and WPB sections to Boynton and Delray.

With reference to the unpleasantness surrounding the Mar-a-Lago bookings that have involved local pols, Steven said the county commission tries to stay out of the ‘ideological’ issues that churn in Tallahassee and Washington, and focus on the “pothole” issues – public safety, economic prosperity and quality of life.

In these areas, he described some ongoing projects – a golf development coming to non-aviation airport land, the shooting range being built on SFWMD land at Mecca Farms, and issues surrounding western development like the GL Homes projects and Minto’s “Town of Westlake”.

He also pitched his idea to realize a $15M savings in the budget (over several years), by NOT buying the SFWMD land in the Ag reserve that has been offered and which staff wants the county to purchase. He would rather see it sold to farming families and kept zoned for agriculture.


In other business:

– Fran mentioned that John Clark (one of our scholarship recipients) just got married.
– Our scholarship fund is depleted (please give!) and there will be a fundraiser later in the year.
– Linda Gore mentioned that “Furry Friends” is holding an event in Jupiter on Saturday from 9-3 where you will be able to watch dogs surfing.

Photos from Carol Porter:

     

Ann Roberts Scholarships Awarded

This year, we were able to fund five young scholars from the Anne Roberts Scholarship Fund – three past recipients who are continuing their studies and two new winners. Eligible applicants must be attending or plan to attend an accredited institution and have and maintain a 3.0 GPA. New applicants also submit a 500 word essay on the importance of a higher education.

The awards were presented by William M. B. Fleming, President of Palm Beach Atlantic University. In his remarks, Mr. Fleming contrasted his institution with others which have been in the press lately with riots, shutdowns of conservative speakers and other challenges to diverse thoughts and opinions. PBAU is “not burning”, he said, and there are no “safe speech zones” necessary.

Unlike those schools who feel it necessary to publicly pledge support for “discourse”, at PBAU they embrace those things that make us an exceptional nation. In the “American Free Enterprise Statement” he passed out:

PBAU “confidently affirms the values and institutions that historically have informed American society – religious liberty; traditional Judeo-Christian morality; limited constitutional government; the Rule of Law; personal and political accountability’; and capitalism – the system of free enterprise. We believe that America is truly an exceptional nation, which was founded and has flourished under the guiding providential hand of God.”

This year’s new winners are:

Madison Andrews, Palm Beach State University. Madison moved to West Palm Beach from Utah, and now attends Palm Beach State as a sophomore. She is involved in the PBS Art Alliance Club and Student Government Association. In high school she participated in Model United Nations and most recently, has worked with Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Associated General Contractors of America. Her passion is education as the basis of making changes in our country. To quote Madison, “The trouble with learning from experience is that you never quite graduate.” Her vision is to improve America’s education system by ensuring that students learn the pillars of Junior Achievement: financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.

Jessica Blakely, Belmont University. Jessica, of North Palm Beach, returns to Belmont University in Nashville as a sophomore. While at Kings Academy in WPB, she was also enrolled at Palm Beach Atlantic University with courses in Public Speaking, Business and Algebra. She studied Spanish in Spain. Among her achievements, she was one of the winners of the PB POST Pathfinder Awards, a President of future Business Leaders, 2nd place winner at the PBA Entrepreneurship Challenge, and she created her own business “Make Up Doctor”. At Belmont, she was elected Congresswoman in the Student Government and participated in Intramural Volleyball. Jessica has volunteered in Haiti Missions, Belle Glade Missions, and Puerto Rico Missions, through the Christ Fellowship Office. Jessica aspires to study for a Doctorate and to work as an economic analyst at the Federal Reserve.

Returning scholars this year are:

Jenna Calderaio – Florida State University. Jenna, from Jupiter and the last of 5 children, enters her Sophomore Year at FSU where she is majoring in Business and Entrepreneurship. She was politically active with the 2015 Sunshine Summit in Orlando, witnessing 14 Presidential candidate presentations. She participates in FSU’s Republican’s Club and is very involved in the Catholic Student Union. Jenna has been selected to work on Missionary Core for the union this upcoming year. She is very active in the pro-life movement, participating in the March for Life this past January. She has plans to join the skeet and trap club and hopes to join the FBI upon graduation. This summer, she has an internship at Congressman Brian Mast’s office and another at Wall Financial Group.

Lauren Staff – University of Florida. Lauren of Palm Beach Gardens, is entering her Junior Year at UF majoring in telecommunications. She is passionate about sports and aspires to work with ESPN or FOX Sports after she attends UF Law School. Lauren has been a staff writer for the “Florida Alligator” newspaper and also works with ESPN Gainesville radio 95.3. She has been active in Student Government, Honor Society, and Future Business Leaders and she participated in “Support our Troops” of North Palm Beach at Dwyer high school.

Ryan Walker – Stetson Law. Ryan, of Wellington, graduated this year from UF majoring in political science. During his career he has spent time with the campaigns of Rep. Bill Hager, Governor Rick Scott, and Candidate Chuck Clemons of Gainesville. As a REC member in PB County, he was Chair of Western Community Development and worked on the campaigns of Mayor Anne Gerwig of Wellington, and Candidate Howard Coates. He was very active at UF in the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. Ryan will be attending Stetson Law School this fall.


Winner’s Table with Scholarship Chair Bette Anne Starkey. (Picture by Carol Porter).

Sid Dinerstein Talks about the Trump Victory

“Black People Vote on Sunday!” – with this thought, former county GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein laid out for us all the clues that were readily available to predict the election of Donald Trump.

Describing a conversation he had with his daughter in New Hampshire on November 7, the night before the election, Sid gave us some insights into the demographics of 2016 and how it differed from when Obama was running. While at the time he wasn’t sure how it would turn out, there were encouraging signs.

The re-election of Barack Obama in 2012 saw a turnout in the black community that exceeded white turnout for the first time (on a percentage basis). Many thought the Obama coalition would turn out for Clinton and insure her victory, but it was not to be. On the traditional “souls to the polls” day – the Sunday before the election, turnout in Palm Beach County was very heavy, but the proportion of black voters seemed to be less. (Editor’s note: In fact, 24% of the 23K voters on 11/6 self-identified in voter rolls as black, compared to 33% on 11/3/2012.) This was happening all across the country.

Another clue was the polling, much of it designed by the media to suppress Republican vote.

Zander Lurie, CEO of Survey Monkey (the company that provides much of the polling muscle for the mainstream media), was known to have contributed $600K to the Clinton campaign. All pollsters are not dishonest of course, but when you know how the boss wants the poll to come out it can have an effect.

There are many ways to diddle with poll results. One that was used was to adjust the outcome to reflect the demographics of the 2012 race. Another was to adjust where the polling was done. If I wanted to make the case that independents were supporting Clinton with big numbers, I could have polled them in Century Village. Since many “independents” have a tendency to vote just like their neighbors, independents in heavily Democrat areas will lean that way.

Survey guru Nate Silver has usually been right about outcomes, but he is an aggregator of polls, not a pollster himself. Thus, if the majority of the polls show a Trump defeat, than he was led to draw that conclusion.

An ironic side-effect of this bias in the polls was over confidence by the Clinton campaign. They had no internal polling of their own and believed the polls that were skewed to make them appear to be running away with it. As a result, they neglected to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, believing those states to be solidly in their camp.


Also at this meeting, we heard from Steve Hyatt who is running a “candidate school” for GOP candidates down in Plantation.

The next meeting will be April 26 for which we are trying to line up a speaker from the James Madison Institute.

If you live in Palm Beach Gardens or Jupiter, please remember their is a runoff election on March 28. Republican Joe Russo is the Republican in the Gardens Group 5 race, as is Ron Delany in Jupiter District 2.

  • Steve Hyatt Steve Hyatt
  • David and Tami Donnelly with Mercedes Garcia and Delia Garcia Menocal David and Tami Donnelly with Mercedes Garcia and Delia Garcia Menocal
  • Sid Dinerstein Sid Dinerstein
  • Nancy Hogan, Col. Arthur DeRuve Nancy Hogan, Col. Arthur DeRuve

     

Municipal Candidates at February Lunch

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)

Committeeman Joe Budd Highlights January Lunch

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.

Dimensional Harmony Brightens our December Lunch

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.

Ballot Amendments Discussed at October Lunch

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 Gives His Views on Donald Trump

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!

2016 Club Presidents Jamboree

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.

Dr. Wes Borucki Presents the 2016 Anne Roberts Scholarships

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.)

RETURNING SCHOLARS

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.

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