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!

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.

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.

Senator George LeMieux on the Challenges We Face

Opening with “the 2016 election is the most important of our lifetime!”, Senator George LeMieux joked that we always say that, but unfortunately, for the last 10 years it has really been true.

Giving us a broad overview of challenges facing us abroad as well as at home, he made the case that the country can be saved from the ravages of the Obama years but only if conservative ideas prevail. If we lose the White House and/or the Senate in 2016, the country left to our children and grand children will be unrecognizable.

Touching on the “nuclear deal” with Iran, which is the most pressing problem of the day, he spoke of how bad a deal it is. Iran is not our friend, as they spread their radical Shiite ideology into dominance of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. Much of the inspection regime in the “deal” requires trust of Iran – and we cannot trust Iran.

Isis, as much a threat to us at home as to the people of Iraq and Syria, have been able to create their terrorist “caliphate” because Obama turned his back on Iraq. With Russia rampaging across Ukraine and threatening its neighbors, and China building up its military in Asia and threatening us with cyberespionage, we need a President who is competent to manage America’s role in the world.

At home, we have slow growth and many feel we are still in a recession. Obama’s regulatory regime has bogged down the economy, and it will take a change in the White House before growth can be restored. If we returned to 4% growth, the debt could be retired in 10 years.

In summary, we can recover but it requires a change of direction.

Also at the meeting, were CD18 candidate (and former club President) Rick Kozell, and US Senate candidate Todd Wilcox, each of who spoke briefly, and Jay Goldfarb gave us an update on Lobster Fest. Hanna Matry, one of our scholarship recipients from last month who could not be with us then, also spoke about her current work at NASA.

PBAU President William Fleming Presents 2015 Anne Roberts Scholarships

This year, the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches was happy to award the Anne Roberts Scholarships to five deserving scholars – two new awards and continuing support for three previous winners.

The awards were presented by William Fleming, President of Palm Beach Atlantic University. In his remarks, he highlighted the strengths and accomplishments of PBAU, most particularly its focus on the American Free Enterprise system. Unlike many peer institutions that are openly hostile to the ideas of the free market and capitalism in particular, President Fleming leads an organization that lives and breathes free enterprise, and instills in its students the importance of character, morality and public service.

PBAU is also a partner with former Senator George LeMieux in the LeMieux Center for Public Policy which is located on campus.

The new scholarship recipients are (Click on their name to read their winning essay):

Aaron Mejias

Aaron grew up in Tampa but resides in West Palm Beach at Palm Beach Atlantic University where he is studying Political Science and History. In addition to being a scholar he excelled in music in high school where he was a Concert Master in the Honor Band and led the Marching Band. He is presently interning with the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, expecting to graduate in 2017. Following graduation, Aaron intends to use his leadership skills and education as an officer in the US Army after which he will again become involved in politics and public service.

Ryan Walker

Ryan graduated from Glades Day School, attended Palm Beach State, and is now enrolled at the University of Florida studying Political Science. He was a member of the Republican Executive Committee and led the Western Communities Caucus. He served in the campaigns of Governor Rick Scott and other campaigns for US Congress and City Commissions. Ryan will graduate in 2017. He may not be specific about his future but we see a great political and public service life.

Our returning scholars are:

Daniel Kozell

Daniel grew up in Palm Beach County, graduating from Jupiter High School. He is studying Mechanical Engineering at FSU. He interned at Simmons and White, Inc, Civil Engineering firm in West Palm Beach and was an undergraduate research assistant at Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion at FSU. He is presently Children’s Ministry Coordinator for his church in Tallahassee, ministering to young adults with disabilities. He will graduate in 2017.

Dylan Brandenburg

Dylan grew up in North Palm Beach, graduated from SunCoast Community High School in Riviera Beach and is studying Computer Criminology at FSU. He also works part time at Florida’s Division of Insurance fraud under the administration of CFO Jeff Atwater. Dylan should graduate in 2017.

Hanna Matry

Hanna graduated from PB State with an AA degree before her graduation from our local William t. Dwyer High School. She is in her final year at UF studying Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. In addition to working through school and tutoring in math, she has worked with the Design and Manufacturing Lab at UF and the rocket team at UF. She is spending her summer at the Aircraft office of NASA’s flight Facility in Wallops, VA as an engineering trainee, working on engineering modifications towards some of NASA’s airborne science missions. Her dream is to become an astronaut or work in her field at NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility after graduation.

Hanna was unable to be with us at the meeting, but her mother, JoAnna Matry, provided us with the following video:



Candidates present included former RCPB President Rick Kozell who has thrown his hat into the crowded ring for the Republican primary for Congressional District 18. Rick is the brother of Daniel Kozell, our scholarship winner.

Some photos from Delia:

  • Aaron Mejias and William Fleming Aaron Mejias and William Fleming
  • Bette Anne Starkey and Aaron Mejias Bette Anne Starkey and Aaron Mejias
  • The Mejias's The Mejias's
  • George Bishop George Bishop
  • Dr. Rodney Blair and Sondra Blair Dr. Rodney Blair and Sondra Blair
  • William Fleming and Rick Kozell William Fleming and Rick Kozell
  • Rob Shannon and Linda Stoch Rob Shannon and Linda Stoch
  • Meg Shannon and Jennifer Hunsinger Meg Shannon and Jennifer Hunsinger
  • Lila and Kathleen Lila and Kathleen

     

Joe Negron and Pat Rooney Explain the Senate/House Discord on Health Care

Previously scheduled for the May meeting to occur after the end of the 2015 session, our Legislative Update was particularly timely since the Legislature failed to finish their work this year and are headed back for a special session next week.

District 32 Senator Joe Negron and District 85 Representative Pat Rooney gave us their view of a few of the issues that were particularly important to them. For Senator Negron, these included Lake Okeechobee discharges, school testing and veterans benefits, while Representative Rooney spoke about placing limits on “sober houses”, city and county pension issues, and letting bars and restaurants serve beer in 64 oz. “growlers”.

The main event of course was health care. In a strange intra-party battle between the Florida Senate on one side and the House and Governor on the other, Tallahassee has shown that they can be just as dysfunctional as their counterparts in Washington. With an impasse over “Medicaid Expansion” (which each side trys to call something different) holding up the passage of the state Budget and three days left before the scheduled end of session, the House took their ball and went home. Since the constitution requires a budget, the Governor is calling them back for a special session starting next week.

What makes this most curious is the fact that the leadership of both bodies are Republican. Those in the Senate though, perhaps are not your father’s Republicans.

The Senate position, represented by Joe Negron who could be the next Senate President, is one of compassion for the working poor and a desire to make sure that “everybody has health insurance.” Relating anecdotes about uninsured parents bringing their screaming children into emergency rooms because they waited too long to seek care, he spoke sadly about the 800,000 uninsured in Florida in that narrow band between existing Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies (100%-130% of the poverty line). Apparently, Senator Negron’s goal is universal health care, with the Florida taxpayer providing subsidies for those who either can’t or won’t purchase their own health insurance. His arguments about stopping the cost shifting from the uninsured to the hospital emergency rooms (who make it up by charging us more), and the urgent necessity to “solve the problem” of Florida’s uninsured, are very reminiscent of the arguments made by President Obama for the Affordable Care Act. In a state that has fought the imposition of Obamacare on constitutional grounds, and has so far resisted its major expansion of Medicaid – a budget buster in a few years, the Republican Senate has gone all Progressive on us. They are actually proposing a brand new entitlement that will redistribute wealth to yet another class of recipient. It is no wonder that the Senate approach is strongly supported by the Democrat party in Florida, and the Hospital and Health Insurance industries which would profit mightily by its passage.

The House position (supported by Governor Scott) was clearly defined by Pat Rooney – we need to care about the cost of these programs, particularly in the out years which very shortly would add another $3-4B Billion burden on the state budget. The House opposes the expansion of Medicaid provided for in Obamacare (which the Supreme Court ruled could not be imposed on the states), for several reasons, most importantly its unaffordability. The House in aggregate, and Pat Rooney in particular, are still governed by Republican principles.

For more information about the dispute and its likely outcome in the budget battle, see: Retooled health proposal snubbed

Also at the meeting, the passing of long time club member Barbara Hawley was noted with a moment of silence, and GOP vice-chair Tami Donnelly made a pitch for new REC members.

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