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.

Presidential Primary Expo

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.

Barnett and Hnatiuk at January Lunch.

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.

Clockwise from upper left: Billie Brooks, Rick Kozell, Peter Noble, Lenore White, Martha Webster, Judy Dugo

Dimensional Harmony Highlights Holiday 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, 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.

Colonel Arthur DeRuve’s History of the American Veteran

In the club’s annual tribute to our troops and veterans, Colonel Arthur DeRuve took us through a history of the conflicts that have shaped America and how much the skill and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors and airmen have secured our place in the world.

From the Revolutionary war onward, our first century was filled with attacks from those who opposed our grand experiment. From Jefferson’s defeat of the Barbary Pirates, which gave us “from the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Hymn, to the burning of the Whitehouse by the British in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Indian Wars (which were to some extent fanned by foreign powers), and finally the Civil War, our young country survived and prospered.

In our second century we were defended in the Spanish American war by the “roughriders”, in World War I by the “doughboys”, and in World War II by the “GIs”, and we saw Reagan’s “peace through strength” and “we win, they lose” winning the cold war over the Soviet Union and Communism.

Now in our third century we face Jihadism or Islamic Fascism, or whatever you want to call it, and is some ways it is the worst threat we have faced because it is diffuse and originates in 60 different nations, loosely coupled.

The way the Colonel laid it out, it is clear that wars are a defining part of who we are, and it is the veteran that has done the heavy lifting. To all our veterans, a grateful world owes you a debt of thanks.

Also at the meeting, we heard patriotic songs from Dimensional Harmony from Boynton Beach High School and their director Sterling Frederick. They will be the featured guests at our Holiday luncheon on December 9.

In other business, the leadership slate of club officers was elected unanimously. Please congratulate President Fran Hancock, Vice President Meg Shannon, Secretary Claire Jones and Treasurer Betty Anne Starkey as they begin their two year terms.

Three Takeaways from the Sunshine Summit

The Sunshine Summit, last weekend’s gathering of the Republican grassroots in Orlando, brought together 14 of the 15 candidates currently competing for presidential primary votes, along with most of the Senate candidates.

Unlike the events of the last two cycles in 2007 and 2011, which featured both televised debates and straw polls, this was mostly a candidate showcase – each was given 20 minutes to make their case. The extreme number of candidates this time, and the fact that Florida does not vote until March 15 – after 26 states will have already assigned their delegates, probably reduced attendance at the event. Still, there were upwards of 1000 in the hall, and the media presence was considerable. CSPAN covered the event live, and lots of recognizable on-air personalities could be seen roaming the halls.

External events played a role in what transpired, as reaction to the Paris attacks on Friday were integrated into the Saturday speeches, or in the case of Chris Christie, dominated their remarks. And the Democrat debate on Saturday night offered a unique opportunity to compare all of our contenders to Hillary Clinton and her two pesky sparring partners.

All the candidates remarks can be seen streaming on CSPAN.

After watching all the debates and attending the Heritage Action Event in South Carolina (with 10 of the candidates), I thought I had a good idea of the dynamics of the race and who was on my short list. That said, I left Orlando with a few new insights.

1. The outsiders have captured the imagination of large portions of the Republican base, even at an event comprised mostly of “insiders”.

As an event sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida, with a large number of blue-badged party officials in attendance, I expected a great deal of support and enthusiasm for the “favorite sons” Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and less for the outsiders Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and (some would say) Ted Cruz. This was clearly not the case.

While Jeb and Marco have strong support, it was the outsiders who were the rock stars.

Ted Cruz laid out the red meat with a flourish and hit all the hot buttons from Obamacare to the border, the Iran deal, a flat tax, and support for Israel, to thunderous applause.

Donald Trump, avoiding any criticism of his rivals this time, took on illegal immigration (need a Dream Act for Americans), winning again, incompetent leaders, and suggested that college students should be taught about the first amendment. The response was widespread and overwhelming.

Ben Carson, after a quiet start discussing his upbringing, lit into an extensive litany of all the things he would do if he wanted to “destroy America” – all of which Obama has put into motion. His was the most complete and devastating attack on the incumbent President of all the candidates and the crowd responded with enthusiasm.

Carly Fiorina, the last speaker of the event, focused on the Paris attacks, the feckless and dangerous foreign policy of Obama/Clinton, and what she would be doing about ISIS. It seemed like Margaret Thatcher channeling Winston Churchill and left no doubt that she would be a serious and effective commander-in-chief. The response was loud and enthusiastic.

2. Almost all of the Republican contenders are displaying the vision, determination, skill and experience that could believably repair the damage that 7 years of Obama have wrought. Clinton is clearly not in the same league with these people, in spite of her over 25 years on the national stage, and tenure as Senator and Secretary of State.

One thing that has become obvious to many people is that there are many kinds of relevant experience besides being an elected official. The office of President is a unique job, unlike any other, and it takes a generalist to oversee a diverse set of tasks, a communicator to inspire the country and lead it in a positive direction, and a visionary to see our potential as a people and set the wheels in motion to carry us forward. Governors, Senators, Business Leaders – all have skills that are relevant to the job, and all of the candidates now in the race have been successful in their lives and bring serious qualifications and abilities to the table.

Some would say that the terrible state that the country is in – anemic growth, unsustainable debt, corruption at all levels, an abdication of world leadership – is a result of professional politicians and insiders (lobbyists, big donors, etc) having screwed everything up. Hillary Clinton, who is unarguably the stereotype of all those things, would represent more of the same, as could be seen on the debate stage in Des Moines. It was apparent in Orlando that our candidates (to a greater or lesser extent), reject the status quo and will lead the country in a different direction.

3. The weeding out process is going to be long and arduous, as very few of these contenders can be counted out, despite their current standing in the polls.

Until the first delegates are selected in the Iowa caucuses on February 1, the polls will be unreliable, as most likely voters appear to be making tentative selections. Many people, until they have to commit, will lean to the candidate that meets their ideological goals, appears to speak “for them”, says the “right things”, or wins debating points. When the rubber meets the road though, issues of electability, consistency, honesty, ethics, contrast with the Democrat candidate, and other issues will rise in importance. As this year is unusual in the number of candidates and the widespread dissatisfaction with elected officials, predictions are hard.

Some weeding out has already begun, as few would expect Lindsey Graham or Jim Gilmore to become the nominee, and two candidates have already left the race. But all the rest have ardent supporters and judging by the enthusiastic response at the summit to most of the candidates, there are many “acceptable alternatives”. It is truly a deep bench.

A County Update – with Commissioner Steven Abrams

Appointed by Charlie Crist in 2009 and twice returned to office, Steven Abrams is currently our longest serving Republican Commissioner, and one of only two out of seven (Hal Valeche is the other, elected in 2012).

Speaking at our October lunch, Steve gave a relatively upbeat synopsis of the county economy, describing the low unemployment and other official statistics, as well as anecdotal “unofficial” measurements such as the uptick in traffic, tourism, and garbage collection.

The commission isn’t typically partisan he said, noting that they were in general agreement about allowing Uber to operate in the county, but there are exceptions.

Next week for example (Tuesday at 5pm) Mayor Vana is holding a public hearing on a county proclamation to support the Obama Executive Amnesty, and asking that the state of Florida withdraw from the lawsuit opposing it. If you think such unilateral amnesty is unconstitutional, you may want to attend the meeting and give them your thoughts.

In the Q&A, the commissioner was asked some substantive questions concerning the upcoming proposal for a 1 cent sales tax to fund infrastructure, and Monday’s vote to allow more development in the Ag reserve.

The sales tax proposal, if approved, would appear on the November ballot, but because both Fire/Rescue and the School System would also like to increase the sales tax, it may or may not happen. As you consider this possibility, remember that this September, the county passed the largest budget, with the largest adopted tax in county history. The millage did not increase, but the significant run up in property valuation produced a massive windfall. Steve spoke about the possibility, but did not say one way or the other whether he supports the sales tax referendum. A voted General Obligation Bond issue is also on the table to fund roads and bridges.

On the Ag Reserve (that area west of Boca, Delray and Boynton where the county bought $100M worth of land to keep in agriculture), they just voted to ease the rules on selling development rights for small, non-contiguous parcels. This will have the effect of increasing the number of houses that can be developed by about 1000, although Steve argued that the total will not exceed the amount envisioned in the master plan in 1999 (which is about 14,000 homes). What he didn’t say is that the way the land has been developed to date, the contiguity rules limited it to about 13,000. To his credit, Steve has a well thought-out set of reasons for his yes vote, and it is a relatively complex issue pitting developers and small landowners against environmentalists and groups like the League of Woman Voters.

Several candidates or their surrogates were in attendance, including CD18 candidate Rebecca Negron. Club VP Meg Shannon spoke for CD18 candidate Rick Kozell, and club Treasurer Bette Anne Starkey spoke for Jeb Bush.

Join us for the next lunch on Wednesday, November 18th where we will present a tribute to our troops and veterans with Colonel Arthur DeRuve.

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