FL Governor Rick Scott pressures Republicans to not oppose Common Core

Esther Rachwal, a member of the Republican Party of Sarasota Executive Committee, in an email states, “I can tell you that at the last REC meeting, Tad Mackie presented a Resolution in support of Florida bill HB 25 [which would stop implementation of Common Core] that most of the people there agreed with. However, then Joe Gruters [RPOS Chairman] said that Governor Scott does not agree with this bill. He agrees with part of it but does not want this resolution to pass.  It went back and forth several times and then Jamie Miller said that if we don’t support the Governor he will have a hard time winning re-election and the Governor explicitly said he does not want Republican Clubs to pass this resolution. Others then felt that we ought to support the Governor and even after a hand count, we lost.”

To read Florida Representative Debbie Mayfield’s bill HB 25 click here. HB 25 “Prohibits [the] State Board of Education from continuing to implement common core standards until certain requirements are met…”

Jamie Miller, Vice-Chair of RPOS, stated in an email, “More than 80 percent voted to table this resolution due to its poor wording and controversial nature.  Some voted to lay on the table because they believe all resolutions are outside the scope of the REC. After the very vocal minority threatened to leave, raised their voices and made other threats about going to the press; Gruters agreed to vote on the resolution which was defeated with 60 percent of the vote with many choosing to abstain.”

I reviewed the resolution as presented and found it to be clear and concise. It “strongly requests” all members of the Sarasota delegation to become co-sponsors of HR 25. To read the RPOS resolution click here.

Brenda Pastoric in an email states, “I was at this REC meeting last November [2013], because this resolution was going to be discussed to support Debbie Mayfield’s bill HB 25.  It was obvious that Joe Gruters and [FL Rep.] Ray Pilon (who was present that night) were both there to suppress this issue.  Joe even stated that night that the Gov. was not in favor on this bill.  Ray stepped in and said there was no need to press the issue that night that it could wait until the Jan. REC meeting. The REC Christmas Party was in place of regular meeting in December and even though several members tried to get a quick vote before the party stated that request was denied – it was no surprise to me that it did not get passed, even though this very same REC had previously passed a resolution against Common Core.”

“You should also know that confusion was evidently caused at the REC by statements that amendments could be made to HB 25.  It is true that we had hoped to amend it to make it stronger, but somehow that possibility was used to cause concern and not to reconfirm our position,” notes Pastoric.

It seems that Governor Scott lives in an alternate universe claiming Floridians going to let the Federal Government dictate our education programs.  That is EXACTLY what is happening with Common Core implementation. Minor tweaks to the federally imposed Common Core standards are now approved. We are dancing like puppets on their money string and mainlining our kids with government propaganda.  Huge, unbudgeted  expenses for the new programs which are unconstitutional, are like the analogy of printers and printer ink.  We’ll give you the printer and the expense of the ink will make it up. That is what Microsoft and Pearson are doing.

Governor Scott needs to pick a side, OUR side, the Constitution side, the KIDS side … and stop pandering to the Jeb Bush cabal! Much as I would like to support Governor Scott, this is a telling issue.  Will he listen to the people? Or will he pander to power brokers who stand to gain billions from supporting Common Core?  So far, the answer has been a stiff arm to his base and the touchdown pass to Jeb Bush.  We need to throw the penalty flag and kick him out of the game for a personal foul!  This is NOT a game and our kids and our future cannot be bargained away in backroom deals.

Following are the meeting minutes from the Republican Party of Sarasota website:

Subj: Minutes from the Quarterly Meeting, January 10th and 11th 2014

Friday, January 10 / Caucus District 16 meeting / 3-4:00 pm / Joe Gruters, Chair

Discussion took place relative to Manatee County’s Lincoln Day event and Sarasota County’s Lincoln Day and Statesman events.  They are all very close together, but due to speakers’ schedules, there was no choice or flexibility relative to the Sarasota events on February 12 and 20.  The two Executive Committee chairs will try to work out an arrangement for trading tickets to the events.

Friday, January 10 / Political Committee / 5-6:00 pm / Stafford Jones, Chair

The meeting was determined to be “closed” as explained by the chair so that open discussion could take place among its members. Discussion took place about the message Republicans are trying to get out.  We need to put out a positive image, unity, rather than selecting issues and appearing to be divided. Reagan portrayed a positive image.

We need a strategy against the Dems who are trying to splinter us with Tea Partyers, Libertarians, etc. Resolutions are dangerous w/o sufficient vetting.

Mike Grissom of the Florida Chamber (former Exec. Dir. Of the RPOF) talked about branding and its importance.    Where are we focused and how are we doing? Chamber is focused on re-electing the Governor and pro-business legislators. Mike Hightower is his chairman. There are 3 million affiliated in the State. We are beyond Common Core and support Florida Standards. We need to focus on electing folks and not policy.

Friday, January 10 / Joint Committeemen/Women & Chairmen Caucus / 6:00 pm

Remarks were made by RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry, National Committeewoman Sharon Day, National Committeeman Peter Feaman, Florida Federated Republican Women President Cynthia Henderson and Jesse Phillips of Restore Justice.

Friday, January 10 / Committeemen/Women Caucus / 6:30-8:00 pm / Jonathan Hayes, Chair

The majority of the meeting was taken up with two discussion, a Resolution opposing Common Core and the other issue relative to the Internet Tax.  Most of the time was taken up with comments made by the members. It was quite contentious with numerous motions made and Roberts Rules invoked. Ultimately the Resolution opposing Common Core was approved and the Internet Tax tabled.

Comments were frequently expressed that we need to move beyond issues and focus on getting Republican elected.  These issues are divisive and counterproductive to our mission. The Legislators have been clear on their position relative to Common Core and that they will not let the Federal Government dictate Florida policy.   Gov. Scott reinforced that philosophy. Due to the amount of time discussion took, the Open Mic Time on the agenda was waved.

Saturday, January 11 / Annual Executive Committee Meeting / 9 am-Noon

Meeting was called to order, followed by invocation and pledge. Credentials Report verified 158 members present of 253 possible, constituting a quorum.

Lenny Curry – We need to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott and the cabinet.  We have 6.4% unemployment; 440,000 private sector jobs created.  He’s done what he promised. The Surrogate Program is in full force, which provides talking points.  The new website is up. We are using microdata and developing many sophisticated microtargeting programs. The Hispanic team has identified key leaders. The Party raised $6 million to the Dems $1 million. We’re in good shape Justin Johnson, the new Exec Director, and his team are doing a great job.

Gov. Rick Scott – lauded everyone and thanked the grass roots for their efforts. He mentioned all the good things that have occurred: 42 year low in crime rate thanks in large part to the job Pam Bondi is doing. She’s also tireless in her efforts to curb human trafficking.

Talked about Common Core and efforts by Debbie Mayfield, John Colon, and Education secretary Pam Steward. They travelled around the state and listened and took in a lot of feedback. Pam Steward and her team are working on Florida Standards and if you’d like to give your input, there is still time to contact her. We won’t have the Feds telling us how to run our education system. No unnecessary information will be collected on students. We are working on a Data Security bill. Curriculum will be controlled locally. Everybody who’s involved really cares.

Attorney General Pam Bondi – Enthusiastically talked about all the areas she is working on, i.e. military fraud, human trafficking, pill mills, etc.  She is relentless against crime and will not stop until she’s done everything in her power to safeguard Floridians.

Congressman Steve Southerland – Talked about Washington and his areas of interest, i.e. land, water, fisheries.  Obama wants to strip Congress in these areas. He thanked the assembly for their grassroots hard work. He referred to DC as Debts – Deficits – Despair. 46 Million Americans live in poverty. 49.3% increase on food stamps. Public debt increased over 89%. Income is down 5%. Prices are up 10%. Obama is attacking industry. FEMA has erred greatly on flood insurance. His father drilled into him, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

State Senator Tom Lee – The State is investing in education and business, our ports and airports. Billions have gone into reserve account. Education costs have been cut by utilizing technology. They are aware of Federal overreach in K-12 and we will maintain local control. Also making an investment in public safety and depopulating Citizens.

Legislator Jason Brodeur – the State has created UF on line for a degree program that would cost $10,000. State debt is down $1.6 billion. Stand Your Ground hearing are complete. Nineteen went around the state and listened. They recommended citizens have a right to feel safe in our State and have a right to stand their ground. Regarding expansion of Obamacare, the State will stand firm. University of Oregon found there was no improvement after 2 years on Medicaid. We have pulled out of PARCC. We will drive the train ourselves. Pension reform has to occur. “We have the best cabin on the Titanic.” Actuarially it’s sound today. Changes can be made that will not affect anyone currently in the system, only folks entering the system. We won’t break our promises. We need to address the $500 million the state pays in additionally each year.

Next meeting will be in Tampa, May 30-31.

Submitted by State Committeewoman Casey Pilon


RELATED COLUMN: Common Core: Will Florida Politics Trump Truth?

UPDATE 1/22/2014: The following comments are from Tad Mackie, Member, REC/RPOS Prct 215, Policy Committee Chair:

Draw what opinions you may, but I think some facts need to be clarified.

The REC standing rule about resolutions is clear and settled until such time as it may be amended. To paraphrase:

ALL resolutions, once passed by the REC Policy Committee, are introduced at the next regular REC business meeting then automatically tabled, to be brought off the table, debated and voted on at the following regular REC business meeting. (This process is used to allow adequate time for REC members’ thorough review of, and preparation of amendments for, the resolution in question.)

A resolution, supporting Rick Rcott’s executive order, Re: Common Core, and Rep Debbie Mayfield’s HB25 was introduced at the November REC business meeting. A motion to suspend the rules, to facilitate debate and vote prior to the holidays, was considered by the whole committee and failed to garner the 2/3 majority vote, required to suspend, by an unquestionably clear voice vote. The resolution, per standing rule, was tabled.

I tend to disagree with Ms. Pastorick’s expressed cynicism of Joe Gruters’ and Ray Pilon’s motives and comments:

First, due to the standing rule to table, there would have been no preconceived need to speak either for or against passage.

Second, even though I was standing right next to him, I do not recall Joe making any statement about Rick’s support of HB25.

Third, Ray is a regular attender, at REC mtgs, anytime he is in Sarasota and, while the gist of Ray’s comment is accurately reflected in Ms. Pastorick’s rendering, it fails to mention Ray’s inclusion of the fact that House committee bill assignments would not occur until after our Jan. meeting. This effectively reduced the urgency to vote, giving the committee plenty of room to breath, regardless of whether there would be a business mtg in Dec, or not.

Due to the REC annual Christmas party preparations, coupled with limited space at the new Osprey office, the Dec. regular business meeting was cancelled. There was some minor confusion due to a few members not realizing their would be no bus. mtg. until they arrived for the Christmas Party. I, even though I had missed the REC Board mtg, 4 days prior to the party, knew there would be no business mtg, well ahead of the night of the party as did, to the best of my knowledge, most members.

To clarify and expand on Vice-Chair Miller’s comments and the debate on the HB25 resolution at the Jan REC bus. mtg.:

Debate was opened by Chairman Gruters with the information that Rick Scott had requested we not pass the resolution and argued opposition.

I argued support to push the issue against CC to our Legis Deleg and the Gov whether they wanted to hear it or not.

Mr. Miller moved to table and a too-hasty, 80% support to table voice vote was taken. A division of the vote was called for and, quite appropriately, overruled by the Chair.

However, the motion to table was out of order due to the standing rule and in the haste of the vote, many members were confused about what they were voting on. Consequently, that 80% vote was rendered null and void and acted on accordingly by the Chair.

Mr. Miller then moved to suspend the rules but the motion failed due to no second.

The spirited debate continued, was completed and a voice vote was called for the No’s.

Emotions were running high among a tired group. Anger and dismay at the Chair’s handling of the debate/votes was loudly expressed by a few.

A division was called and a hand-count taken. Of those voting, it was roughly 60% No’s – 40% Yay’s, defeating the resolution. However, a full 40+% of the members present, abstained.

In my experience, abstentions of that magnitude are unheard of. We passed two other resolutions that night, with full participation and only 1 no vote between them, even suspending the rules, by unanimous consent, to intro and vote on one of them.

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