Republican US Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez campaigns at Gay Pride Week event

Mass Resistance reports:

Gabriel Gomez is the GOP candidate for the US Senate in the June 25 special election to replace John Kerry. In the primary, he was the big favorite of the national GOP establishment. They said Gomez represents the future of the Party. Gomez’s slogan is that he’s going to be “a new kind of Republican.”

No Republican candidate for US Senate has ever (to our knowledge) campaigned for office by having a booth at a Gay Pride festival.

Republican US Senate Candidate Gabriel Gomez (pictured above third from left) stands outside of his booth at the “Gay Pride” Celebration.  Seated at the booth getting his photo taken by woman is Gomez’s 8-year-old son. [MassResistance photo]

This past weekend’s Gay Pride Parade went through downtown Boston and ended at City Hall Plaza, where, as in past years, a huge “Gay Celebration” was held with numerous booths.

Not many politicians of any party buy a booth at this event. But Gabriel Gomez not only had a booth, but he was there to greet people personally. And he brought his eight-year-old son to help run the booth, along with at least one very pro-GLBT campaign worker.

Diversity? No problem. Not too far away was the booth for the Bisexual Resource Center. [Mass-Resistance photo]

This “Celebration” has a very “diverse” atmosphere. Gomez’s booth was not far from a booth featuring gay sex toys, a sado-masochism booth, and several booths giving out condoms and anal lubricant.

Earlier in the week, Gomez released a statement saying that he if elected he intended to be considered “a pain in the butt” to the Republican Party, and that he “will go to work on them” to “support allowing two people to get married, whether they are gay or straight.

This is not surprising given that Gomez had supported Obama in 2008 and had donated $500 to the Obama campaign, and said he supported Obama’s positions on immigration and gun control. Gomez also gave $1,000 to ultra-liberal U.S. Senate candidate Alan Khazei. (Alan Khazei hired gay activist Kevin Jennings to run his non-profit group.)

On the abortion issue, Gomez claims to be “personally pro-life” but says that Roe v Wade is “settled law” and he would do nothing to take away a woman’s right to an abortion.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on MassResistance.org.

RELATED VIDEO:

Third Graders Introduce Obama at Homosexual Pride Event

True the Vote wins in settlement with St. Lucie County, FL Elections Supervisor

HOUSTON, TX – True the Vote (TTV), the nation’s leading voters’ rights organization, today announced its settlement with the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections regarding records inspection rights under federal law and the Florida Constitution. The agreement provides True the Vote access to all ballots, registrations, and other election related data necessary to conduct an audit of a federal election in Florida’s 18th congressional district.

The audit is unprecedented in that it will be led not by government entities or political parties, but by concerned citizens.

True the Vote  can now begin reconstruction and review of the 18th Congressional District election race between Colonel Allen West and Patrick Murphy,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We must stop this scandalous cycle of ignoring failures in our electoral process when the campaigns and cameras go home. Understanding how failures in administration can effect elections, as we saw in St. Lucie County, will help prevent them from occurring in the future. We cannot allow slipshod standards to become pandemic across our country’s election processes – citizens can and will stand up in defense of election integrity.”

“This settlement grants True the Vote all of the records we originally requested, without any adverse impacts to St. Lucie County taxpayers. The real work toward understanding exactly what happened before, during and after the 2012 18th Congressional District race can finally begin.”

A key component to the settlement agreement was to permit access to information dating back to January of 2009. Such information will help evaluate efforts to maintain voter rolls, both before and after federal election cycles.

“Since 2009 to present, Washington has made clear that it doesn’t have any interest in seeing that voter rolls are maintained – we must fully study how that can affect a close congressional race,” True the Vote attorney J. Christian Adams said. “This case is unique because it was directly impacted by the Holder Justice Department’s attempt to block the State of Florida’s efforts to remove ineligible persons from the voter rolls ahead of the 2012 General Election. This settlement will lead my client to answers, finally.”

The agreement between True the Vote and St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker allows for sharing of records that pertain directly to the 2012 contest, in addition to election administration files dating back to January 2009. An abbreviated list of records includes:

  • 2012 voter credit documents;
  • completed voter registration forms;
  • copies of all regular and provisional ballots cast (including provisional notices);
  • documents pertaining to federal list maintenance requirements since 2009 (including felon and non-citizen records);
  • all documentation for those trained as poll and tabulation workers for the 2012 contest.

The settlement came as a result of a lawsuit after requests to inspect election records were not immediately addressed (True the Vote, Inc. v. Gertrude Walker in her official capacity as St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, Civil Action (No 2:13cv14046.)). TTV chose to perform a comprehensive audit of the 2012 election and subsequent recount between incumbent Allen West and Patrick Murphy after reports of errors and inaccurate tabulations were admitted to.

True the Vote originally filed its complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida – Fort Pierce Division.
To read the complete settlement agreement between True the Vote and St. Lucie County, click here.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite  www.votohonesto.org.   

City of Sarasota: No to new businesses, yes to panhandling

Sarasota City Commissioners

The City of Sarasota Commission voted to impose a moratorium on new bars, taverns and nightclubs. This action led City Attorney Robert M. Fornier to write a letter (below left) to the Commission to “determine if there is legally sufficient justification to impose a moratorium”. For many residents this moratorium is looked upon as a back door way of imposing a noise ordinance within the city limits.

Click on image for a larger view.

There is a City Commission election on May 14th and one of the hot button issues is a noise ordinance. After a March runoff there are three candidate vying for two city commission seats. Two of the candidates, Richard Dorfman and Susanne Atwell have said they will vote against the noise ordinance. Susan Chapman favors the noise ordinance. The City Commission postponed a vote on the noise ordinance until after the election. This moratorium will only add to the controversy.

Sarasota artists have created a Facebook page and Noise Ordinance website allowing citizens to post comments about the proposed ordinance.

Photo courtesy of Channel !0 News Tampa, FL.

The City Commission in February allowed panhandling. 

Lee Williams from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, “The City of Sarasota and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed a consent decree that stops police from ‘interfering with the exercise of First Amendment rights’ when dealing with the homeless. The decree, a 60-day injunction, prohibits police from interfering with panhandlers — someone standing on a sidewalk soliciting assistance — unless they impede traffic, pedestrians or create an unsafe situation.”

Panhandlers are becoming more visable and aggressive within the City of Sarasota. Citizens have complained and yet the current City Commissioners have decided that panhandling is a free speech right.

This consent decree with the ACLU led to multiple panhandlers showing up at major intersections and soliciting handouts from passers by and those in cars at stop lights. According to Linda Hersey from Sarasota Patch, “Most of the Patch readers who responded to a post about panhandling on city streets are frustrated by the numbers of people with a hand out, asking for money. Sarasota city commissioners plan to fast track a proposed ordinance that would curb panhandling on Sarasota streets.”

Currently in the City of Sarasota a select group of businesses are being targeted, while panhandlers are welcomed. At least until the Commission meets again?

The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men

Not every election that is important is held in November of each year. There are many local races for public office and referendums that are voted on in out-of-cycle elections. There is a growing  concern that out-of-cycle elections ultimately suppress the vote. Cases in point are two elections being held in May 2013. One is in Sarasota, Florida and the other in Los Angeles, California.

PRNewswire reports, “Entravision Communications Corporation (NYSE: EVC), a diversified Spanish-language media company, today announced a multi-platform campaign to encourage Los Angeles Latino voters to participate in the upcoming runoff election for Mayor, being held May 21, 2013. With only 16% of registered voters turning out for the Primary Nominating Election that was held in March, Entravision is committed to using its radio and digital assets in Los Angeles to raise awareness of the upcoming election and instill the importance of participating in the democratic election process.” [My emphasis]

Sarasota Today, in an Editorial titled “Why I vote (even though I am apathetic)“, notes, “Ap·a·thy. lack of interest of concern. P·a·rty. a large group of people. This is the reason some people believe causes such a low turnout in our City Elections (which are held in March and May). Apathy is what takes us from a 75% voter turnout in November to a 17% voter turnout  four months later in March. Although I disagree with the premise, I am going to accept that this must be true (mostly because I am sick of fighting about it – and I just want to find a solution).” [My emphasis]

It appears citizens from Sarasota to Los Angeles are taking an interest.

PRNewswire reports:

“At Entravision, we believe that the Los Angeles Mayoral election is extremely important to the future of the city. As an active member of the community, it is our civic duty to encourage as many citizens as possible to exercise their right to vote,” said Walter F. Ulloa, Entravision’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “With this election being only the third time in the last 75 years that an incumbent mayoral candidate has not been on the ballot in Los Angeles, this election offers a unique opportunity for citizens to vote with their voice and help shape the future for the city. By leveraging Entravision’s multiple media properties in Los Angeles, we will provide a valuable service to the community and help encourage voter participation for this special election.”

Sarasota Today coined the phrase “Apathy Party”. The Sarasota Today editorial analyzes the impact of the Apathy Party:

So here is my attempt at giving specific examples of why you (assuming you don’t vote) should consider leaving the Apathy Party.

Reason 1: You are more likely to lose your job due a decision made by a City Commission, than by the President of the United States.

Here is my reasoning. If you are young and live in Sarasota most likely you are in the “service” industry. You probably work in hospitality, retail or the restaurant business. All three of these industries (which are the largest in the City) depend HEAVILY on tourism. So, if the City Commission votes to install parking meters or by chance bans live music – then the tourists will probably not come downtown anymore. So when tourists leave, revenue leaves – and businesses suffer. When business suffers – people lose jobs. The City Commission makes decisions each month that effect local businesses short term and long term. If you think voting in the national elections will change your life – you should really pay attention to local elections.

It’s math.

City makes “anti-business” decisions = Businesses fail = Jobs Lost = Bad Tourism Experience = Bad Economy.

City makes “smart business” decisions = Businesses grow = More Jobs = Good Tourism Experience = Healthy and Diverse Economy

Reason 2: Your wallet will be more effected by the policies supported by the City, than by the Federal Government.

I always hear that people “vote with their wallet”. If that is true, than you definitely want to reconsider voting in local elections. Everyone’s income has taken a hit due to a horrible economy. Although things are improving, we still need to find ways to save money month-to-month. Tax Loop Holes don’t help anyone except big corporations. So how does the local government help us save money? Let’s start with the big one – rent. If you are like most people, rent is your biggest expense (or if you are a home owner – you property taxes and loan payment). The City of Sarasota has had a “no-growth” policy that has back-fired on our economy and it is lowering property values and raising taxes – and thus it is making your rent higher. For example, our zoning code only allows a developer to build 50 units per acre for a 10-story building. If you do the math – you can quickly see that these are BIG EXPENSIVE units – which means BIG rent. These restrictions are everywhere throughout the city – even in deprived neighborhoods like Rosemary District.  Since it is close to impossible to build a 10-story building with 50 unites and make it financially work – nobody builds. When nobody builds – there is less taxes going into the City’s revenue base. So, the City has to raise taxes and the buildings that exist in downtown raise rent (because they can due to lack of inventory).

It’s math.

It is math. Historically, off-cycle elections have lower voter turnout. Lower voter turnout leads to the few dictating to the many. It is not time for the many to be heard?

Miami/Dade reveils first ever election fraud cyber-attack

Tom Tillison from BizPac Review reports:

A cyber attack against an online election system in Florida last year appears to be a historic first in terms of voter fraud, NBC News reports.

More than 2,500 “phantom requests” for absentee ballots were made through the Miami-Dade County elections website,according to a grand jury report on problems in the Aug. 14 primary election.

The attempt to illegally obtain absentee ballots using a computer program is the first known case in the U.S., according to computer scientists and lawyers working to safeguard voting security.

NBC News reports that “because of the enormous number of requests – and the fact that most were sent from a small number of computer IP addresses in Ireland, England, India and other overseas locations – software used by the county flagged them and elections workers rejected them.”

. . .

There are few answers about who was behind the “phantom requests,” which targeted Democratic voters in the 26th Congressional District and Republicans in Florida House districts 103 and 112, according to the Miami Herald.

Read the full column here.

Rubio: We don’t need a new idea. There is an idea. The idea is called America, and it still works. (+ video)

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) visited Sarasota, FL on March 15, 2013. He was greeted by over 50 donors at a private event hosted by Jesse Biter, a local entrepreneur. During his remarks at the Sarasota event Senator Rubio restated his belief that “We don’t need a new idea. There is an idea. That idea is called America, and it still works.” This was what he said at CPAC 2013.

Watch Senator Rubio’s CPAC 2013 remarks:

Senator Rubio was introduced at the Sarasota event by Representative Vern Buchanan (FL-13). Rep. Buchanan noted that he has traveled across the globe looking at what other countries are doing to promote economic growth. Rep. Buchanan noted that China is doing better at growing its economy than the United States, noting that China is on track to create 20 million jobs annually.

Senator Rubio during his remarks spoke about the $1 trillion in outstanding student loans, half of which will be in default. He said that this student loan burden impacts the middle class and our youth most of all. He also raised the specter of a rising China and its impact on the global economy. Rubio warned of not having enough workers skilled to fill 3 million of today’s jobs. He touched on the national debt, Congressional spending and an intransigent White House.

Those in attendance at the Sarasota event and those at CPAC 2013 were impressed by Senator Rubio’s “the American idea” comments. However, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, New Jersey does not agree with Senator Rubio’s outlook.

Rabbi Pruzansky states in an email, “The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff.”

Rabbi Pruzansky notes, “Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.”

“During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai Stevenson: ‘Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!’ Stevenson called back: ‘That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!’ Truer words were never spoken,” states Rabbi Pruzansky.

Will there ever be a majority of thinking persons?

Rabbi Pruzansky does not think so. He closed his email with, “If this election proves one thing, it is that the Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back.”

VIDEO: Voter suppression in the City of Sarasota, Florida

Out-of-cycle elections suppress the vote. That is the message of the below video.

The City of Sarasota, Florida will be holding an out of cycle City Commission election on March 12, 2013. One of those running for office is attorney Susan Chapman. She is in favor of off cycle elections and in the below video states that she does not care if people vote.

Sarasota City and County off cycle elections have historically suppressed the vote.

The City of Sarasota, the Sarasota County Commission and the Sarasota County School Board have used off cycle elections to their advantage and not the advantage of voters. These off cycle elections are both costly and historically have lower voter turn out than during on cycle elections in November.

It is not voter ID laws that suppress the vote, those laws make sure only eligible voters vote.

Watch this video on government sanctioned off cycle elections:

On February 27, 2013 True the Vote (TTV), the leading national, nonpartisan voters’ rights and election integrity organization, issued a report detailing the true impacts of voter suppression in 2012 in a report titled, “The 2012 Voter Suppression Myth.”

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, expressed deep skepticism about alleged reports of widespread voter suppression in the 2012 elections following TTV’s investigation of six key states’ county clerks and board of elections reports. Read more.

Perhaps True the Vote should look at voter suppression caused by off cycle elections?

CLAIMS OF VOTER SUPPRESSION FALSE

HOUSTON, TX. February 27, 2013  True the Vote (TTV), the leading national, nonpartisan voters’ rights and election integrity organization, today issued a report detailing the true impacts of voter suppression in 2012 in a report titled, “The 2012 Voter Suppression Myth.”

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, expressed deep skepticism about alleged reports of widespread voter suppression in the 2012 elections following TTV’s investigation of six key states’ county clerks and board of elections reports.

“After submitting open records inquiries across the nation, True the Vote found a grand total of one recorded complaint, in Maryland,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “Peddlers of the voter suppression narrative were quick to report that hundreds of thousands of votes were suppressed in places like Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. If that is true, why is there no evidence of a single citizen filing a formal complaint in those states?”

True the Vote selected six states (Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Maryland) based on their battleground status in presidential elections and demographic shifts for the study. Open records requests for any and all reports of voter suppression were sent to county clerks and boards of elections. The report shows that out of these states, only one “alleged” report was ever filed resembling voter suppression.

“Our goal is for free, fair and transparent elections for all Americans. However we must be mindful of the real intent of some groups who are pushing the voter suppression narrative in 2012,” Engelbrecht said. “Partisan interest groups vigorously pushed the suppression line on two fronts. Democratic voters were threatened with loss of civil rights should they fail to appear at the polls. Administrators and concerned citizens wanting to serve in the polls were accused of having racist motives should they dare to strive for an accountable and efficient election experience.”

In addition, True the Vote studied the impacts of photo voter identification requirements – often described as codified voter suppression tactics. Data analysis demonstrated that almost all states with such requirements saw an increase in voter turnout, compared to 2008.

“Georgia is known to have the ‘strictest’ photo requirement in the nation,” Engelbrecht continued. “In two consecutive general election cycles, the state has seen increases in voter turnout. This is more evidence that voter confidence and turnout rise together, thanks to photo voter ID.”

To read the new report, The 2012 Voter Suppression Myth, click here.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

True The Vote NOW (TTVN) is a public policy organization dedicated to reforming our voting systems at state and federal levels. True the Vote NOWpromotes solutions that increase citizen engagement and restore faith in our elections. For more information, please visit www.truethevotenow.org.

Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite www.truethevote.org.

US Supreme Court Voting Rights Case and its impact on Florida

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder beginning today. The issue according to the SCOTUS Blog is, “Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

The ruling on this case will impact as many as five Florida Counties. According to Larry Kahn of KeysNet.com, “Section 5 covers Monroe and four other Florida counties, as well as some local jurisdictions in California, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and South Dakota. It also covers all of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Virginia.”

Kahn reports, “Last year, then-Monroe County Elections Supervisor Harry Sawyer battled Gov. Rick Scott on the national stage over how many early-voting days should be allowed in the November election. Scott ultimately won — eight days instead of Sawyer’s preferred 14 — but that battle and more will be heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Kahn notes, “‘Last year we got an umbrella from Section 5 because it helped Mr. Sawyer fight and the voters were heard from,’ said Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin. ‘If we weren’t under Section 5, they wouldn’t have been heard from’.”

Mr. Sawyer wanted to use Section 5 of the voting rights act to bypass the governor and state of Florida.

In the column, “Voting Rights at the Supreme Court Today“, Amy Payne reports:

The Voting Rights Act provides “broad and powerful protection against discrimination,”explains Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, a former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s take on Section 5, the Voting Rights Act remains in effect to protect all Americans from voter discrimination.

But Section 5 outlived its purpose decades ago—and the federal government is still forcing some voting jurisdictions to justify all of their local rule changes. Von Spakovsky points out:

[Section 5] effectively presumes that all voting-related actions by certain states and jurisdictions are discriminatory and therefore requires that they obtain pre-approval from the federal government for otherwise ordinary and routine actions, such as moving a polling station from a school that is under renovation to another one down the street or drawing new redistricting plans. This is a major and unusual imposition on state sovereignty.

What was originally intended to safeguard individual liberty has become a way for the feds to attack state liberty. For the Department of Justice and many activists, Section 5 merely exists to bully local authorities.

Von Spakovsky says that if Section 5 were struck down, “The only change would be to curb the abuses of federal bureaucrats and check the power and influence of the liberal activist groups that rely on Section 5 to enforce their agendas.”

Watch this Heritage Foundation video to understand what the arguments on Section 5 are:

In Italy a new party is born: What does that mean for the United States?

“The Five Star Movement “tsunami” an electoral triumph” by George Lombardi (posted with the author’s permission):

ROME — The results of Italy’s historical elections confirm the desire of a great many Italians who expressed their desire for change.

Almost one third of the vote went to new actors of the complex Italian political system.

Two great surprises characterize this election: first, the “tsunami” of the comic-turned-political agitator Beppe Grillo [pictured above] won a substantial 25% in both houses of the legislature; the second is the rebirth of former premier Silvio Berlusconi (PDL), coming back from 12.8% a few months ago to almost 25% (almost 30% if you add the coalition party Lega Nord), almost gaining the upper hand in the powerful Senate.

The leftist coalition (PD) won by less than 1% in both chambers, but they expected a greater result, while Mario Monti, the former PM and so-called technocrat, received only 9% , enough to be a decisive factor in the search for a historical compromise.

Obviously Italy is heading toward a total gridlock. Everyone agrees that new elections may come as soon as one or two years from now.

What are the practical results of the vote?

As far as Italy’s relation with the European Union almost two thirds of the voters want a more independent stand when facing the EU and Germany, Grillo is strongly anti-Europe, just like the Lega Nord, and Berlusconi has openly criticized Germany’s dictates and forced economic austerity measures. Most Italians moderates, young and old, favor Italy’s presence in the EU community, but they dislike the oppressive German and French power in all aspects of legislation and economic policies. There is no doubt that a new era has dawn in Italy.

Investors are analyzing the outcome of the Italian election. The people’s choices may trigger a sell-off in stocks and bonds and renew concerns about the euro if the three main parties cannot bring a stable government.

The rise of anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement and the impressive comeback of center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi have cast doubt over the leftist coalition (led by Mr. Bersani) ability to govern even if he forms a coalition with the centrist party of outgoing technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti.

But next question for the market will be how viable the winning coalition will be and whether it is able to continue with much-needed reforms, first of all the way parties are allowed to participate in the general elections.

Grillo has indicated a will to change the outdated and often confusing election laws. And while both left and conservatives have often agreed on changing the electoral system, they could never find a compromise.

The second most important reform is the one related to taxation and finance. Italy needs a great input of fresh capital, but the austerity measures mandated by Germany limits greatly the options of past and future Governments.

The yield gap between 10-year Italian and German bonds stood at around 288 basis points on Friday, nearly half levels seen in late 2011, when Monti was called in to bring Italy back from the brink of a possible default that would have sunk the EU. But Italian borrowing costs are still far too high, Italian bankers and businesses say.

It is true that Italy needs political stability and a more business-friendly economy, but it also true that a large spread is unsustainable. It must go down or it will creates serious problems for the Italian economy. Analysts are forecasting Italy’s economy to shrink by 1 percent in 2013, worst than previously expected and a painful reminder of the challenges awaiting Monti’s successor.

Expect a new general election within 12 to 18 months should the new government turn out to be a very weak one. But the current result demonstrate the Italians’ unwillingness to endure more tough reforms.

The decisions Italy’s government makes over the next several months promise to have a deep impact on whether Europe can decisively stem its financial crisis. As the Eurozone’s second-largest economy, its problems can rattle market confidence in the whole bloc and analysts have worried it could fall back into old habits.

The only hope is that Italian politicians, many now in their early 30’s, will find a common ground, focusing on programs and on goals, forgetting ideological differences, and by example lead a group of European nations like Spain, Greece, Portugal and others out of the economic and political crisis and in a new, more egalitarian relationship within the European Community.

Panhandling is the new normal in the City of Sarasota, Florida

Christian Ziegler wrote in an email, “It’s a true shame to see the City of Sarasota, at the expense of our tourism, local economy & city’s image, bow down to the ACLU in order to avoid a possible lawsuit.”

“As a person who works in and frequents downtown Sarasota on a daily basis, I have personally witnessed the spike in vagrant activity since the City Commission began taking away the tools that the local police use to fight the issue. I believe this is an issue the City Commission and local police should stand tough & work together to fight, not give-in, even if the city is being threatened by a lawsuit from the ACLU!” states Ziegler.

Ziegler has received hundreds of responses to his email, most supportive. The following are from City of Sarasota residents:

Mr. Ziegler,

I have more than just a single reason to move away from our beautiful Sarasota, and if I were younger I would stay and fight the ACLU, and get the bums out of our library. I was so turned off by the street people being allowed to wander around inside the library last summer that I began plans to move that same day. Sarasota is a beautiful city, but it needs some tough new leadership, and right now the wishy washy look the other way is not helping anybody. A shame for such an otherwise beautiful city to be headed to hell in a hand basket. I had planned to be here until I die, but now will die in Colorado instead. I am moving there into a home I just bought. 

Respectfully,

Dear Christian,

I own a small business and work downtown too. I avoid certain streets because I know they are hangout spots for vagrants. I used to walk to the post office to drop off any mailings, I don’t anymore.

I am very disappointed in our city’s commission poor decision, inability to stand up for our citizens over a counter culture that brings our city down, and they have made a mockery of our police department. I’ve watched these vagrants approach diners and ask for food or money at Cie La Vie. Okay so they have rights and freedom of speech. What about OUR rights as business owners, citizens and visitors?

There are numerous programs already in place in Sarasota where they can get assistance. These people that hangout in the parks all day do not want help. They are fine with the station they have assumed and this is their lifestyle. They know that they can now keep doing what they are doing and not get hassled. And now more will come.

I know where my vote is going March 12th and it will not be a liberal.

Thank you,

Lee Williams from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, “The City of Sarasota and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed a consent decree that stops police from “interfering with the exercise of First Amendment rights” when dealing with the homeless. The decree, a 60-day injunction, prohibits police from interfering with panhandlers — someone standing on a sidewalk soliciting assistance — unless they impede traffic, pedestrians or create an unsafe situation.”

Panhandlers are becoming more viable and aggressive within the City of Sarasota. Citizens have complained and yet the current City Commissioners have decided that panhandling is a free speech right.

Williams reports, “The consent decree follows the arrest of Jon Hill, a homeless man who was arrested of panhandling on U.S. 301. Hill was injured during his arrest, which he and his attorneys claim was the result of officers slamming his face into a squad car. The arresting officers say he intentionally threw himself forward during a struggle, striking his head on their squad car window.”

Hill spent five days in jail, until the ACLU got him released by filing an emergency petition — a writ of habeas corpus.

This may become a wedge issue in the March 12,  2013 Sarasota City Commission election.

Watch this “Voting for Dummies” video done by Politically Personal:

Florida Catholics and Senator Rubio respond to Pope’s retirement

Catholics across the state of Florida are reacting to the unexpected announcement of Pope Benedict XVI retirement. As the world appears to devolve into godlessness as Pat Buchanan noted, the world now awaits the white smoke billowing from the Vatican.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Diocese of Venice, issued the following statement regarding resignation of the Holy Father:

The Holy Father’s announcement that he will be resigning on February 28 was a surprise for Catholics around the world. Pope Benedict XVI has been a loyal and active Shepherd for his years as Successor of St. Peter. The Holy Father cited reasons of health and age for his decision. The Diocese of Venice in Florida joins all in continued prayer for the Holy Father. It is my wish to express gratitude for Pope Benedict’s remarkable ministry as the Successor of St. Peter. It is no coincidence that the Holy Father concluded his statement assuring the Church that he will devote his remaining years to “serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” His writings and teachings have called Catholics to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and to help those in need. Particularly during this time, I ask all Catholics in the Diocese of Venice in Florida to join me in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI and for the College of Cardinals as they prepare to convene, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to elect the next Successor of St. Peter.

Senator Marco Rubio stated, “Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world.”

While Catholics await the announcement of a new Pope, others are attacking Pope Benedict XVI for his stand on traditional marriage. Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo in their New York Times column write, “Saying he had examined his conscience ‘before God,’ Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics. That task will fall to his successor, who will have to contend not only with a Roman Catholic Church marred by the sexual abuse crisis, but also with an increasingly secular Europe and the spread of Protestant evangelical movements in the United States, Latin America and Africa.”

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Ruth Pollard in her column “Palestinian Catholics Wary Of Pope Benedict’s Resignation” reports:

He is viewed as the Pope who helped improve relations between the Vatican and Israel, while also providing open support for the recognition of a Palestinian state. As the news of Pope Benedict’s retirement spread, Palestinian Catholics expressed their shock at his decision and their fears that it may reduce the authority of the church and the next Pope.

“We want the representative of the Holy See to be supportive of the marginalised, of the downtrodden and in this case, the Palestinians who are living under a brutal Israeli occupation,” said Zoughbi Zoughbi, the director of the Wi’am Palestinian Centre for Conflict Resolution.

“Anyone who comes into this position [of pope] has the responsibility of correcting injustices in all four corners of the world,” Mr Zoughbi said as he sat with friends in a café in Bethlehem.

Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare?

Today, Integrity Florida, an independent ethics watchdog group, in partnership with Americans for Prosperity – Florida, released a research report titled “Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare”.

According to co-authors Ben Wilcox and Dan Krassner, “The report illustrates Enterprise Florida’s apparent conflicts of interest, appearance of pay-to-play and its practice of picking of winners and losers in the marketplace.”

The report states:

“Floridians have entrusted Enterprise Florida, a public–private partnership focused on economic development, with significant public resources to deliver high quality job creation results, yet the organization has failed to accomplish its goals. Why has Enterprise Florida struggled as an economic development program? To better understand its operations, we take a close look at the incentive agreements executed by Enterprise Florida in the 2012 fiscal year. We selected 2012 because it presents the most recent data. It’s also a year that the Florida Secretary of Commerce has boasted of being an exemplar of success, referring to previous years’ efforts as “marginal at best.”

In addition to illustrating the failure to meet legislative expectations, this report documents Enterprise Florida’s apparent conflicts of interest, the appearance of a pay-to-play scheme for winning favorable treatment and its repeated practice of picking winners and losers in the marketplace through targeted business, favoritism, and selective incentive deals.” [My emphasis]

The report finds:

1. Enterprise Florida has failed to meet its job creation objective: In 1992, the Florida Legislature created Enterprise Florida with an initial objective of creating 200,000 high-wage jobs by 2005. After operating for twenty years and despite negotiating more than 1,600 transactions involving economic development incentive agreements worth more than $1.7 billion,iv Enterprise Florida reports that only 103,544 jobs have been delivered since 1995 – half of their original target and eight years beyond its original target date.

2. Enterprise Florida has failed to obtain its required level of private sector support: As a public-private partnership, Enterprise Florida is expected to obtain private sector support to help pay for its costs of operation. The Florida Legislature required Enterprise Florida to obtain 50% private sector contributions by Fiscal Year 2000-01. As of Fiscal Year 2010-11, more than 85% of Enterprise Florida’s funding comes from government and less than 15% comes from the private sector.

3. Enterprise Florida has the appearance of pay-to-play: Enterprise Florida, while subject to the dominion and control of the Florida Legislature,viii collects on average $50,000 each from corporate members for about half of the seats on the organization’s board of directors.ix Several Enterprise Florida board member companies received incentive agreements and vendor contracts following negotiations with Enterprise Florida staff during the 2012 fiscal year giving the appearance of pay-to-play.

4. Enterprise Florida has apparent conflicts of interest: The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors and the organization’s staff have a relationship that may be a conflict of interest. Enterprise Florida staff bonus pay of nearly $500,000 ($427,500 for staff, $70,000 for President/CEO) in 2012 was provided by Enterprise Florida board member companies that were also Enterprise Florida vendors and others that were recipients of incentive deals in the 2012 fiscal year.

5. Enterprise Florida is picking winners and losers: A number of executed agreements detailed in the 2012 Enterprise Florida Incentives Report demonstrate clear state government favoritism of some companies and industries. Enterprise Florida issues unnecessary benefits packages to entice businesses that should already be attracted Florida’s business friendly environment. These benefits are not necessarily enjoyed by competitors across an industry or all businesses moving to or expanding in Florida.

Click here to read the full report.

Florida Secretary of State releases voting recommendations, says nothing about voter fraud

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released his recommendations on voting. What is most notable is that the word “fraud” appears only once on page seven of a twelve page report.

The Detzner report states, “Additionally, some Florida counties continue to operate without utilizing technological advances, such as electronic poll books, which can shorten the time it takes to do voter intake and minimize the possibility of dual voting fraud.” No other mention is made of the numerous allegations, lawsuits and documented examples of voter fraud during the 2012 election cycle.

Why does the report not deal in more detail with voter fraud and voting transparency?

Because the mandate for the report from Governor Scott was, “… making recommendations to increase the accessibility and efficiency in Florida Elections.” The mandate was not to insure all votes cast are counted once and only once.

The report states:

“Secretary Detzner and a team of Department of State employees from the department’s Office of the Secretary, Office of the General Counsel and the Division of Elections’ Bureau of Voter Registration Services and Bureau of Voting Systems Certification traveled throughout Florida to meet with county supervisors of elections and their staffs and receive their input on how to improve Florida’s election system. Secretary Detzner also sought out and received valuable input from other elected officials and knowledgeable Floridians and organizations such as the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections and the League of Women Voters. The Secretary also considered input from Florida voters, poll workers, Miami-Dade’s Election Task Force, the Miami-Dade Grand Jury report and Division of Elections’ staff.” [My emphasis]

Those consulted are those with a vested interest in, lobbyists for and those who control the voting system. The report states, “During Secretary Detzner’s fact-finding efforts, supervisors of elections and others agreed the 2012 General Election was a fair election as a whole.”

True The Vote has a different view of the St. Lucie County voting system . “This dramatic recount [in St. Lucie County] was an extraordinary example of how our elections can suffer systematic failure,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We run the risk seeing episodes like this becoming ordinary if citizens do not demand answers and hold election officials accountable. The American people own the voting system – we have the right to ask tough questions when we witness the failure of one of America’s core functions.

St. Lucie County is not mention in the Detzner report.

Patricia Mazzei in her Miami Herald column titled “Miami-Dade grand jury: Absentee voting fraud clouds confidence in tight election results” wrote, “To prove their point, grand jurors made an astounding revelation: A county software vendor discovered that a clandestine, untraceable computer program submitted more than 2,500 fraudulent, “phantom” requests for voters who had not applied for absentee ballots in the August primary.”

“With several narrow victories in races in the 2012 Primary and General Elections, the general sentiment that undetected fraud is occurring is a major problem for this Grand Jury and the citizens of this community,’’ the jurors wrote. “Can the public have confidence in the election results of those close races? We are not certain they can.” Read more here.

The Detzner report concludes that expanded early voting is the panacea. No where is voter fraud nor ways to prevent it addressed in any detail.

To read the full twelve page report click here.

TRUE THE VOTE SUES ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA

HOUSTON, TX. February 4, 2013 –True the Vote announced today that it filed a lawsuit against the St. Lucie County, Florida Supervisor of Elections, to enforce record inspection rights under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and the Florida Constitution.

True the Vote demands that all records pertaining to the recent 18th Congressional District election and subsequent recounts between Rep. Allen West and Patrick Murphy be reviewed in order to perform a comprehensive third-party audit (True the Vote, Inc. v. Gertrude Walker in her official capacity as St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, Civil Action (No 2:13cv14046.)).

Watch the video announcement:

True the Vote seeks to compel St. Lucie County election authorities to grant complete inspection rights to all election records pertaining to the 18th District race and voter registration records under federal and state law. In addition, True the Vote demands that the court order the Supervisor of Elections to preserve all records. If granted access, TTV will determine a precise vote count, document any illegal participation in the election and offer solutions to prevent similar failures in future recounts.

“This dramatic recount was an extraordinary example of how our elections can suffer systematic failure,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We run the risk seeing episodes like this becoming ordinary if citizens do not demand answers and hold election officials accountable. The American people own the voting system – we have the right to ask tough questions when we witness the failure of one of America’s core functions.

“The clock is ticking on the opportunity for a comprehensive, outside audit of this recount,” Engelbrecht continued. “Each passing day heightens the risk of critical documents being disposed of. If you thought voter fraud could erode America’s confidence in elections, unchecked incompetence in the vote tabulation process will destroy all faith remaining in our systems.”

“Gone are the days when Motor Voter is a law used only by a couple of special interest groups. The law requires physical inspections, I hope we reach a quick agreement,” attorney J. Christian Adams of the Election Law Center said.

On November 6, St. Lucie County election administrators admitted that ballot tabulation machines suffered a malfunction, preventing early vote totals from being properly counted. County workers were forced to hand-feed ballots into tabulation machines as a result.

On November 8, West demanded a full recount of early votes and copies of poll sign-in records to compare voter participation against ballots cast. West’s requests were denied and ignored, respectively.

On November 9, West demanded that a Florida state court impound all ballots and voting machines, but made no claims of the sort True the Vote makes today in federal court. West’s requests in state court were denied.

On November 10, St. Lucie County “unofficially certified” the vote count for CD-18 and publicly acknowledged “uncertainty” over the early vote totals. St. Lucie County called an emergency meeting to “recount all ballots cast during early voting.” The county later reversed itself, only performing a partial retabulation. After the partial retabulation, the lead for Patrick Murphy decreased.

On November 13, Defendant Gertrude Walker held a press conference admitting that her staff acted with “haste” and that “mistakes were made” throughout the tabulation and partial recount process. Florida Division of Elections auditors were dispatched to investigate how 799 votes disappeared or changed hands during the partial recount.

On November 16, Defendant Walker claimed to find 306 early votes in a box at her office that had not been counted. The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board ordered a recount of all early votes, with a deadline set for noon on November 18.

On November 17, the full recount operation was relocated to a privately-owned property. County workers were evicted from the premises late at night, suspending the recount until the next morning.

On November 18, County workers failed to meet the deadline, instead certifying the original November 10 tabulation, which officials claimed “uncertainty” over the accuracy of the results.

True the Vote later demanded to review poll books, “voter credit” lists, felon files and others to perform a comprehensive audit of the CD-18 tabulations. Inspection rights were not granted and so this lawsuit was made necessary.

“My clients are demanding that Walker immediately allow an in person public inspection of all records relating to the election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District between Allen West and Patrick Murphy,” local counsel Michael A. Barnett said.

True the Vote filed its complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida – Fort Pierce Division.

Click here to read True the Vote’s filing.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

True The Vote NOW (TTVN) is a public policy organization dedicated to reforming our voting systems at state and federal levels. True the Vote NOWpromotes solutions that increase citizen engagement and restore faith in our elections. For more information, please visit www.truethevotenow.org.

Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite www.truethevote.org.