Florida Senator Abruzzo (D-District 25) accused of cronyism

Senator Joseph Abruzzo, Democrat – Senate District 25.

Daniel B. Krassner, Executive Director Integrity Florida in a letter to Florida Senator Joseph Abruzzo, Democrat – Senate District 25, states, “We understand that your request for the review of Palm Beach County’s Ethics Commission came less than a week after your legislative assistant, Philip Massa, failed to get the Ethics Commission’s executive director job.  Your financial disclosures indicate that you work for a law firm that represents the City of Boca Raton as a client, an entity under the jurisdiction of the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission.”

Cronyism is defined as, “Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.”

Krassner’s letter ends with, “We respectfully request that you petition President Gaetz to withdraw his directive for an OPPAGA review of the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission, which would likely save Florida taxpayers thousands of dollars and increase public trust.”

According to Krassner, “An OPPAGA review of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, which was created in May 2010, would be premature for such a new entity and a massive waste of taxpayer resources. As you know, OPPAGA projects often take between 1500-2000 hours of staff time at an average rate of $75 per staff hour plus expenses for travel and other needs. An OPPAGA review of such a small entity seems more than overkill.”

“In fiscal year 2011-2012, the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics expended just eighty-eight percent of budgeted expenditures, a savings of four percentage points over projected savings, a savings of approximately $70,000 to taxpayers. In 2011, the National Association of Counties presented its Achievement Award to Palm Beach County for its sweeping ethics reform measures. With just five full-time staff and a budget of approximately $500,000, the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics has delivered significant results and earned a reputation for honesty, integrity and character,” noted Krassner.

On November 29, 2012, Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) and Integrity Florida released the latest Tough Choices report that analyzes Florida’s local governments’ ethics reforms and policies. While Florida’s statewide ethics laws have been essentially frozen in time since Governor Reubin O’D. Askew championed reform in the 1970s, the report finds ethics reforms at the county and city level are alive and growing.

According to U.S. Department of Justice data, from 2000 – 2010, Florida led the nation in federal public corruption convictions.

While some of these convictions have been of state officials, many of these corruption scandals have involved local government officials. Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap analyzed survey results on ethical programs and reforms in 45 of Florida’s 67 counties focusing on the areas of ethics policy, ethics enforcement, lobbying, campaign financing and procurement.

Read Integrity Florida’s County Ethics Report “Tough Choices” here.

Rubio: States need a refund

Congress should authorize them to return federal spending to pay down the debt.

While American families everywhere are cutting costs, Washington still can’t seem to rein in its reckless spending, leaving our national debt skyrocketing to the detriment of future generations. This neglect of our fiscal health is unacceptable. It is imperative we begin paying down the debt — starting yesterday.

Excessive and ineffective spending is an important cause of our growing debt, yet states have little say in what happens to federal money if they choose not to spend it. They essentially have two choices: use it, or lose it to someone else. There is no option to stop those funds from being spent elsewhere, which is why I am reintroducing the Returned Exclusively for Unpaid National Debt, or “REFUND,” Act next week in the Senate.

The REFUND Act will allow states to identify and return unwanted federal funds to the federal treasury for the specific purpose of paying down the national debt. This prevents the Treasury from continuing its current practice of spending the returned funds elsewhere, which provides no real incentive for states to turn away federal funds.

The legislation would also end today’s “use it or lose it” mentality, which encourages states to take debt-financed money from Washington. For example, two years ago, the state of Florida was allocated $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for a high-speed-railway project, but turned down the money because it would have put the state on the hook for more spending in the long run. The money was then offered under a new bidding process for other states to fund their own high-speed-rail programs. Under the REFUND Act, Florida would have been able to use that money toward paying down our $16 trillion debt.

The national debt is a crushing burden to our children and grandchildren; many state officials and leaders realize this and want to make responsible decisions to help alleviate that burden. These fiscally responsible states should be allowed to divert Washington’s spending spree toward debt reduction and do their part to end the practice of spending money we don’t have.

Read more at National Review Online.

VIDEO: Buchanan Tax Reform panel raises disturbing future without major changes

Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-13) hosted a panel on Tax Reform on March 29, 2013. Buchanan is the only member of the powerful US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee from Florida. The panel members were:

  • Neal Boortz is a former nationally syndicated radio talk show host who co-wrote the Fair Tax Book with former Congressman John Linder. The book calls for the replacement of the income tax with a consumption tax.
  • Dan Mitchell is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, which is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principals of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Mitchell is an expert on tax reform and a strong advocate of a flat tax.
  • National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/Florida Chairman Jerry Pierce. The NFIB is is the leading small business association representing small and independent businesses. The NFIB supports modifications to provide tax relief and certainty to small businesses.
  • Susan Nilon is the general manager of WSRQ radio, a radio show host and writer who advocates a progressive tax that taxes wealthy individuals at a higher rate than low income individuals.

The forum was moderated by WWSB/ABC 7 news anchor John McQuiston.

Watch the METV video of the entire panel discussion:

Every panel member opened by saying the current income tax system is broken. Susan Nilon asked if there was the political will to actually fix it. Each panel member addressed their solution to fix the system, ranging from repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment (which created the progressive income tax) to returning to a simpler form of taxation.

Of note was all agreed the current progressive tax system has failed. Boortz pointed out that progressive taxation was first outlined in the Communist Manifesto. Boortz, speaking for the Fair Tax, said that repeal was the best solution long term. Both CATO’s Dan Mitchell and NFIB’s Jerry Pierce agreed. Pierce noted that this was not the official NFIB position but his alone.

John McQuiston, the moderator, asked if changing the current system in any meaningful was was politically possible. Mitchell noted that during the 1990s Congress passed meaningful welfare reform and likened the tax reform challenge as doable. Congressman Buchanan indicated that from his meetings with President Obama and others that there is a six month window of opportunity to make meaningful changes.

The Fair Tax was most discussed by panel members. Mitchell noted that even though he was on the panel to represent the flat tax he had debated in favor of the Fair Tax. Nolan was concerned that the low income taxpayers would be negatively impacted. Boortz pointed out that under the Fair Tax, those making minimum wage would see a negative 23% tax while those making $31,000 would have a zero tax bill.

The issue of tax loop holes for corporations came up  repeatedly. Corporations like GE have lobbyists who are paid to insure they pay no taxes and these lobbyists have been successful. Boortz pointed out that corporations pay no taxes. Rather individual stockholders and the consumers bear the burden of the taxes levied on the products and services provided by corporations.

The question of charitable deductions came up. Mitchell pointed out that all academic studies of charitable giving show that two things drive individuals to give – wealth and disposable income. For example the bill signed by President Obama in January limits itemized deductions for those making over $450,000 to 3%. The closing of loopholes already includes limiting deductions for high wealth individuals.

During the presentation the audience showed its appreciation for the panel and Rep. Buchanan by their applause. Boortz pointed out this type of event is critical if tax reform is to take place. Without the power of the people nothing will happen. Boortz pointed out that with the implementation of the Fair Tax and elimination of the progressive income tax, “it will be the greatest transfer of power from government to the people since the American revolution.”

At the end of the discussion both Rep. Buchanan and Jerry Pierce warned that the United States faces a financial meltdown in the next 3 to 8 years. Mitchell noted that by 2040 Greece spending will be at 300% of their GDP, while America’s spending will be at 450% of GDP. The disaster is eminent noted Rep. Buchanan but he believe a bi-partisan agreement is possible within the next six months.

If none is reached then America’s fiscal downfall is set. The question is not if, but when.

IG Report: Enterprise Florida’s corporate welfare process a mess

Governor Rick Scott today released the Florida Chief Inspector General’s report on Digital Domain. Digital Domain received $20 million in taxpayer funding to “create jobs” in the state. According to the Executive Summary:

The process designed to award economic development incentive funding under the Quick Action Closing Fund (QACF) statute did not result in a recommendation by Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) to the Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development (OTTED). Concurrent to that statutory process, Digital Domain sought alternative means to obtain funding. In 2009, the funds for QACF that were unexpended in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008-2009, were reverted by the Legislature, appropriated within the same fiscal year to OTTIED and were awarded to recipients including Digital Domain, without the requirement to follow the statutory process for awarding QACF awards.

Although a statutorily prescribed process in place for determining Digital Domain’s eligibility for a QACF award did not result in a recommendation to fund Digital Domain an award of $20 million to Digital Domain still occurred. [My emphasis]

“There needs to be more oversight and accountability of the public’s money,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of the independent government watchdog group Integrity Florida.

Krassner states, “The report makes it clear that Enterprise Florida offered Digital Domain more than $6 million from the closing fund. Unfortunately, Enterprise Florida still appears to be utilizing an insufficient vetting process. Enterprise Florida made several incentive deals with companies just in the last year that have gone bankrupt, including one headed by a convicted cocaine trafficker.”

Companies should not be allowed to circumvent the process but they continue to do so.

“Gov. Scott guaranteed 1,000 new jobs from Northrop Grumman in his State of the State speech. After the speech, Enterprise Florida sat down with the company to negotiate how much money the company wants. How could taxpayers possibly get a good deal with that flawed process? Integrity Florida is encouraged to see bipartisan efforts by lawmakers to increase accountability and transparency of incentive deals,” notes Krassner.

The IG report states, “Testimony supported that although improvements have been made to statutes and processes since 2009, an award similar to the one to Digital Domain could happen again today if the Legislature appropriates funds and gives the Executive Branch the discretion to expend those funds.”  [My emphasis]

The Chief Inspector General made the following recommendations:

Therefore, We recommend that the DEO conduct a formal evaluation of the current statutory provisions to ensure the incentive authority, waiver authority and time frames for evaluation and decision making adequately protect the state’s interests and determine if recommendations for enhancements should be made to the Legislature.

We also recommend that DEO and EFI conduct a review of the economic development incentive processes so that recommendations for improvement may be considered such as documentation and codification of the complete decision making process.

Finally we recommend that DEO and EFI define and codify the process to be followed when DEO’s Division of Strategic Business Development and EFI staff disagree on whether to fund a project. At a minimum, this process should include full disclosure in writing to ensure transparency of the rationale for the ñnal decision.

Governor Scott issued the following statement:

“This Inspector General report shows two things – first, our current economic project vetting process is in place for a reason, and second, that process was clearly circumvented by the previous administration for the Digital Domain deal. We must ensure Florida has the tools needed to compete for economic investment, but we must also ensure that competitive process includes protocols to safeguard taxpayer dollars by focusing on a return on investment.”

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.

City of Sarasota, FL promotes “kiddie porn” parody?

The City of Sarasota, FL owns and operates the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, which has a budget of over $8.8 million. On April 23, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. 50 Shades: The Musical will be performed. 50 Shades: The Musical is a parody of the controversial erotic book 50 Shades of Grey.

According to Larry Allen, Sarasota County Communication Office, “Sarasota County provided grant funding in the amount of $76,468 to the Arts and Cultural Alliance through the Tourist Development Tax. The Alliance provides funding to the Van Wezel for program series. A  list of prospective show offerings was provided in the grant application process on March, 2012. 50 Shades of Grey was not on the list provided on that date.” [My emphasis]

In August of 2012, the Ulsterman Report posted a letter from a person with “20 years with Child Protective Services.” The author of the letter writes, “Yes, 50 Shades is pornography. Like most pornography, the story line is weak, the characters one-dimensional, while the sex itself graphic, detailed, but formulaic. The underlying theme to 50 Shades is something far more sinister and appalling though than your mere run-of-the-mill porn. It is pedophilia. It is child porn. Kiddie porn.” [My emphasis]

According to the letter writer, “I didn’t seek out 50 Shades of Grey. It was brought to my attention by a longtime friend who is also a clinical psychologist at a university. She’s a bit older than me. She grew up in the counter culture era and did her fair share of experimentation of all kinds.  So she’s hardly a prude. What she today though is a mother and grandmother. And she’s smart. One of the things that fascinates her is this age of cultural phenomena.  How due to technology things now spread so quickly throughout society and become the next big thing at an increasingly rapid pace. She says sometimes this phenomena is pretty much harmless, and other times it can be very damaging to kids and or adults who begin to emulate something out of a need to belong to the ‘next big thing’.”

According to Mary Bensel, Executive Director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 50 Shades is the next big thing.

Mary Bensel, Executive Director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

During a telephone interview Bensel pointed out that the musical is getting rave reviews everywhere it plays. There is a video on the Van Wezel website with patrons (the musical is restricted to those over 18 years old) saying how funny 50 Shades is. But is sexual abuse funny?

Bensel stated she has both read the book 50 Shades of Grey and viewed 50 Shades: The Musical in New York.

When asked if she believed the book 50 Shades of Grey was pornographic Bensel stated, “I have no opinion.” On the phone call was Julia Mays, Director of Marketing for the Van Wezel, who portrayed the book 50 Shades of Grey as a “love story”.

E.L. James, author 50 Shades of Grey

According to Wikipedia, “Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. It is the first installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM).” [My emphasis]

Bensel stated that the Van Wezel paid about $10,000 for the musical and has sold $27,424 in tickets. Sex sells and sexual abuse sells even better?

When asked if anyone from the Van Wezel staff reviewed the lyrics or screen play the answer was “no, that is not our job.” A call was placed to David Freeland, Senior Booking Manager with the Broadway Booking Office, NYC, who is the agent for 50 Shades: The Musical to get a copy of the screen play. Freeland has not return our call as of the publishing of this column.

As the Ulsterman Report letter writer states, “Sexual predators are cons. They almost always have a cover. It’s that cover which allows them access. 50 Shades of Grey is a con. It now has access to millions of readers. It is a story about abuse from beginning to end. And it’s not just the abuse of a man and a woman – it’s the abuse of a man and a girl.”

Bensel’s con is the book and musical are popular, thereby justifying its booking. She also noted that 50 Shades: The Musical and Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody have been booked by other Florida performing arts halls including: The Lakeland Center, Broward Center and Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center in Fort Myers, FL.

Senator Marco Rubio has made it his mission to stop human trafficking, including the sex trafficking of children in Florida. Perhaps Senator Rubio should visit the Sarasota City Hall when he comes to Sarasota on March 15th and make the Commissioners understand the problem? Please watch this video interview with Senator Rubio where he states “awareness is critical”:

UPDATE:

WDW received the following email sent to the Sarasota City Commissioners:

Dear Commissioners:

Many Adult Ordinances passed in the city of Sarasota, an Ordinance No. 97-4015 was adopted on the 2nd reading on the 15th June 1998 but was amended by Ordinance 98-4073 & passed Dec. 7. 1998. Another amendment to the Adult Ordinance 99-4165 passed Nov. 15, 1999.  Most of the changes were made to strengthen the Ordinances to make them more enforceable.

I would think that these ordinances would prohibit any kind of pornographic performance at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall based on this evaluation of 50 Shades of Grey planned to be performed on April 23, 2013.

As a former Director of Florida Family Association for Sarasota/Manatee County, our organization was very much involved with all the Adult Ordinances for the city & County of Sarasota as well as Manatee.

Therefore, I would appreciate knowing what the city of Sarasota plans to do with this performance.

Esther Rachwal
Sarasota, Fl. 

Perhaps the Van Wezel should be issued an Adult Use Permit?

RELATED COLUMN: Police chief: If you don’t curb porn, number of sex crimes will rise

50 Shades of Grey – Pedophilia Hiding In Plain Sight

The Ulsterman Report, August 16, 2012

The story of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky is well known.  So too is the 50 Shades of Grey phenomena, a book that has become so popular among women that some are referring to it as “Mommy Porn” for the masses.  That description is actually a lot more disturbing than a lot of folks are currently realizing.

Yes, 50 Shades is pornography. Like most pornography, the story line is weak, the characters one-dimensional, while the sex itself graphic, detailed, but formulaic. The underlying theme to 50 Shades is something far more sinister and appalling though than your mere run-of-the-mill porn. It is pedophilia. It is child porn. Kiddie porn.

Now I know after saying that, many female fans of 50 Shades, many of them mothers, will naturally put up a defense against that kind of description.  These women, being mothers, are naturally wired to protect kids.  People like Jerry Sandusky are viewed with hatred, revulsion, and disgust.  Rightfully so.  What mother would want to condone anything having to do with the sexual abuse of children?  Of innocents?

But that is exactly what 50 Shades of Grey is really about.  It is a story of a girl being sexually molested, over and over again, by a male figure with all the power, all the control.  It is the classic abuse scenario.  And mothers are, in some cases, quite literally getting off on it, which takes the disgust of this phenomena to a whole other frightening level.

So having put that out there, and I hope I haven’t lost any of you just yet.  I owe you an explanation after having made that kind of accusation about a book some of you may be reading right now.  I’ll start with a bit of background first.

My professional experience centers around nearly 20 years with Child Protective Services.  Over that time, I’ve seen situations that do, literally, keep me up at night.  The amount of abuse that is going on in our society, that sexualization of our kids…well basically, what you hear about, what is reported in the news, that is only a small sample of just how large of a problem and the disgusting acts that are going on every day.  Kids are being raped.  Kids are being abused.  Every single day.  Over and over and over again.

50-Shades-Movie-Official-CastI didn’t seek out 50 Shades of Grey.  It was brought to my attention by a longtime friend who is also a clinical psychologist at a university.  She’s a bit older than me.  She grew up in the counter culture era and did her fair share of experimentation of all kinds.  So she’s hardly a prude.  What she today though is a mother and grandmother.  And she’s smart.  One of the things that fascinates her is this age of cultural phenomena.  How due to technology things now spread so quickly throughout society and become the next big thing at an increasingly rapid pace.  She says sometimes this phenomena is pretty much harmless, and other times it can be very damaging to kids and or adults who begin to emulate something out of a need to belong to the “next big thing”.

Her reaction to 50 Shades of Grey though was much more aggressively negative than anything I could recall her talking about before.  It came up because I mentioned it to her offhand.  I had seen a couple mentions of it on the news and knowing her interest in cultural trends, asked her about it.  She stopped talking, looked right at me, and said the book was about pedophilia.   And it was her who then connected it to the Sandusky tragedy where so many young boys had been sexually abused. Sandusky committed his acts of crime under the cover of actually helping youth.  That is how he gained access.  My friend said 50 Shades was basically the same exact thing.  Its cover was a story of a young woman engaging is a very graphic sexual relationship with a somewhat older man.

The problem for her, and it was a BIG PROBLEM, was that the narrator in the story, was in fact, an underage girl.  My friend indicated, based on the use of language in the narration, that this girl was likely no more than 12 or 13 years of age.  I made mention that the girl in the story was actually getting ready to graduate college.  My friend, a woman with years of experience as a clinical psychologist, whose expertise I had personally witnessed a number of times over the years, shook her head and told me that she would not be able to convince me by simply talking about it.  She said I should read the book myself, but do so with the eyes of somebody whose job it had been for many years to try and protect children.  As someone who has seen over and over the signs of abuse, and the damages of abuse.   Because there are always warning signs.  I know that.  How many times have I heard people horrified in saying “I can’t believe I didn’t see that”  “How couldn’t I have known?”  Or even worse, “I knew something wasn’t right but I didn’t want to believe they were capable of doing something like that.”

I’ll try and summarize my friend’s words at this point as best I can.

“Sexual predators are cons.  They almost always have a cover.  It’s that cover which allows them access.  50 Shades of Grey is a con.  It now has access to millions of readers.  It is a story about abuse from beginning to end.  And it’s not just the abuse of a man and a woman – it’s the abuse of a man and a girl.

When you read it, look for the signs.  They are all there.

The female character has no sexual experience.  None.  She is given the age of 21, but that age is itself a cover.  Her true emotional age is much-much younger.  She has never even masturbated.  She has never even experienced an orgasm.  That alone is one of the greatest attractions to the pedophile.  That is the psychology of that kind of act.  You get off on taking purity.

But move from the fact the girl has no sexual experience whatsoever.  Now pay attention to her narrative dialogue.  Really listen to how she talks.  Again, she’s not talking like a young woman, she’s talking like a girl.  She talks about cartwheels, and skipping, over and over again it is the language and the imagery of a girl.

After that this girl has her innocence taken from her.  The abuser, the older man, makes her think its her choice.  Again, you and I both know that is one of the primary tools of the pedophile.  They create an environment where the child feels it’s their idea.  It’s what they want. But what happens after that innocence is taken away?  Then the abuser becomes more openly abusive. Controlling.  In this story he tells the little girl how to speak.  What to wear.  What to eat.  He is Daddy and she is daughter.  When you read it read it like a mother who is also a woman who is experienced with the real life tragedy of abuse.

And there is many more themes about that abuse in this book.  There is spanking and the use of Baby oil.  Why baby oil?  Think about it.  The girl wears pigtails.  She complains that he is treating her like a child.  He says she acts like a child.  There is even a scene where the abuser creates a situation to take her innocence from her again.  He rips out her tampon and engages in forceful sex yet again.  Her hymen is ripped, and the bloody remnants of it are again symbolized in an act of pedophile rape.”

She went on to say there are women now defending the book, and she understands that, but it concerns her.  A great deal, because she is absolutely convinced the book is purposely advocating the raping of a child and attempting to normalize that atrocity.

So, I left that conversation thinking maybe my friend was exaggerating.  I had a hard time believing something so popular could actually have such a sinister and revolting theme, and while I respected her expertise and experience, thought this time she had to be seeing something that just wasn’t there.

I got the book, I sat down, and I read it.

The first thing that struck me was how poor the writing was.  It wasn’t just bad.  It was horrible.  But horrible writing is no crime, (thank goodness or I would have been put away a long time ago) and it doesn’t make the content of the story evil.  But in my reading of it, just like my friend said, the theme of child abuse, of pedophilia, was right there in plain sight.  I remember being told a long time ago that sometimes the best way to hide something is in plain sight.  That is what 50 Shades of Grey is really doing.

The main character had no sexual experience.  None.  She was an innocent.  She was a kid who had just had her first drink of alcohol.  No way that was an accident by the author.  That author had to have purposely made her, despite her given age of 21, by any other measure, a little girl.  At that point, it struck me as odd.  In my business, we call that a warning signal. A sign we may have a problem.

From there, just like my friend had warned, it got worse.  Much worse.  And she was right, her telling me about it did not have the impact of me reading it myself with eyes open.  She had given me the signs to look for, and as I turned the pages, those signs confirmed it over and over again.

The narration, which is the voice of the girl talking to the reader, was the voice of a little girl.  It’s unmistakable.  There is very little emotional maturity and absolutely no sexual maturity.  She is seduced by this man in the very same way a pedophile seduces a child.  The male character is Gerry Sandusky.  He makes a show of his money, his power, the things he can buy for her, but while this is going on, we are reading the thoughts of a child.  We are reading the seduction of a little girl by a pedophile.  She is almost completely powerless.  She is naïve even for a teenager, and certainly much much more naïve than a college student.  She is incapable of even making the most simple of every day decisions and must be told what to do by her abuser, who in turn though spends a lot of time and effort convincing this child this is really what she wants.  I’ve seen this before.  Too often.  Too many times.  And it always leaves me sickened.

We are reading child pornography.  Remove the false age of the girl, which has no basis in reality, and what we are actually reading is the abuse of a little girl.

The main character is described in pigtails, given words like “Holy Cow”  “down there”, “jeez”  “double crap” she can’t operate a computer (but is supposedly a college graduate), describes skipping and doing cartwheels, repeatedly says she is made to feel like a child, has her imaginary friend (inner goddess) feels shame, is spanked and slathered in BABY OIL, told what to say, what to eat, what to do, until finally and sadly so predictably, is physically beaten.  (But she returns to him soon after, which is again, a very common theme of abuse, including pedophilia)

And beyond all of this evidence there is the fact that the male character is himself a product of sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile.  The girl whose thoughts we listen in on as she is being abused, recognizes this aspect of the male abuser, but apparently, is too naïve or unwilling to realize she has continued this cycle of abuse herself. (Which again reinforces the idea that she is actually herself just a child)  There is no way the author did this by accident.  She puts out the theme of pedophilia openly, therefore hiding it in plain sight.

People who have had to deal with the real world of sexual abuse of children will understand this perhaps more easily than others.  How the pedophile is so often themselves victims of earlier abuse.  They enter society, they become fathers or mothers, but so often they too become abusive.  They seek out dominance, control, and the taking of innocence just as it was taken from them.  Those who were once abused, become the abuser.  It is the sad sick and tragic cycle of pedophilia.

With 50 Shades of Grey this abnormal condition is trying to be normalized.  Thanks to the insight of my friend, and my own experience,  I know it for what it truly is – a story of the sexual abuse of child, wrapped in the cliché cover story of a mysterious and troubled wealthy man.  That is another thing my clinical psychologist friend pointed out later.  Take away the aspect of money, and the character of the abuser becomes much less attractive and therefore it would have been much more difficult to pull of the deception.  Are women actually that shallow?  Yes, we can be.

But women, the vast majority of us, are not people who knowingly condone the sexual abuse of children.  We do not condone in any way, the horror that is pedophilia.

Sadly though, that is exactly what is happening with the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey.  It’s a pedophilia con.

It is one of the most horrible and sickening acts against the most powerless of our society, hiding in plain sight.

Maybe my friend put it best when we talked all of this over.  50 Shades of Grey didn’t excite her.  She didn’t find it interesting, sexy, or romantic.

50 Shades of Grey made her weep.  It made her sick.  It made her think of the abuses of all of those kids by a demented, warped monster like Jerry Sandusky, who, just like the pedophilia of 50 Shades of Grey, was hiding in plain sight.

FOLLOW UP:

Fifty Shades Pedophilia Abuse Controversy Revisited

Florida Senate passes sweeping ethics law but questions remain

Daniel B. Krassner, Executive Director of Integrity Florida

Daniel B. Krassner, Executive Director of Integrity Florida stated in an email, “Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate Ethics and Election Committee Chairman Jack Latvala and House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee Chairman Jim Boyd are all to be commended for their constructive, bipartisan pursuit of ethics reform. Floridians have not seen our state leaders prioritize and pass comprehensive ethics reform since the implementation of the 1976 Sunshine Amendment.”

However, former Florida Commission on Ethics Executive Director Phil Claypool identified areas of concern about Senate Bill 2, the ethics reform bill just passed 40-0 by the Florida Senate.  Claypool shared the things good about the bill as well as his concerns in a memo to Integrity Florida.  Claypool’s analysis includes these not-so-goods:

[Blind Trusts]

For the first time in Florida, the bill would provide for “blind trusts,” an ethics concept from the federal government and many other states that the Ethics Commission has recommended for several years. In these other jurisdictions, this allows a public official to create a trust for his or her assets, to hand off responsibility for investing those assets to a trustee, and then to “blind” the official to what he or she owns by prohibiting the trustee from telling what is owned or sold. If an official doesn’t know what he or she owns, then the official should not be influenced in his or her public decisions by considering personal gain or loss.

Unfortunately, the bill as currently written takes the Ethics Commission’s recommendations regarding blind trusts and eliminates most of the parts that would protect the public. In effect, the proposal stands the concept of a “blind trust” on its head. Instead of protecting the public from conflicts of interest that a public official may have through “blinding” the official to what he or she owns, the proposed law would allow officials to use their positions for private gain while “blinding” the public to what’s going on.

[Financial Disclosure; Fines; Amendments; Investigations]

The bill requires the Commission to treat an amended disclosure form as if it were the original, so long as the form is filed by Sept. 1st. The intent is to allow an official to file an incorrect disclosure, be notified of the error when a citizen has investigated and files a complaint, and then correct the filing without consequence if he or she can by Sept. 1st.

Someone is being protected here! And it isn’t the public. Shouldn’t officials take personal responsibility for their actions? Already, officials can amend their forms at any time to fix mistakes. Shouldn’t they treat financial disclosure – which they file under oath and make only because they hold the public trust – as seriously as their income tax returns?

[Ethics Commission Investigative Authority]

Part of the bill would allow the Ethics Commission to investigate possible violations when referred by one of several different officials, thus not requiring those officials to file a complaint with the Commission (and allege that they believe there has been a violation) if they believe a situation should be investigated.

This has been one of the Commission’s recommendations and would be a positive step forward, although still a step short of allowing the Commission to initiate investigations on its own. However, the bill also would limit the Commission’s jurisdiction to investigate if the complaint or referral is filed within 30 days of an election against a candidate. This extends the 5-day limitation that is in the current law to 30 days.

This appears to take a step backward – why do public officials need even greater protection?

[Voting Conflicts of Interest]

This is a very technical subject, one that I spent hours lecturing on at various seminars. Currently, State-level officers (as opposed to local government officials) can vote on measures in which they have a conflict of interest, but are required to disclose the conflict within 15 days of the vote (if an elected official), or prior to the vote (if an appointed official). A conflict is created when the measure under consideration would inure to the special private gain or loss of the official, of a principal by whom the official is retained, or of a relative or business partner of the official.

The bill would prohibit State-level officers from voting on a measure that would inure to their special private gain or loss. That is a change in the law. They still would be allowed to vote on matters benefiting their principals, relatives, and business partners but would have to disclose the conflict within 15 days.

It also would amend the law on when State and local officials have a conflict requiring them to abstain and/or disclose the conflict, by defining “special private gain or loss.”

[Gifts from PC’s and CCE’s]

This section creates an entirely new prohibition against some gifts being given to public officials and their families by Political Committees and Committees of Continuous Existence. But not all gifts – just the ones that are “not primarily related to contributions, expenditures, or other political activities” under Ch. 106.

Without seeing any examples of what is intended or without having a specific definition, it is difficult to determine what would be “primarily related to” contributions, expenditures, or other political activities, and what would not. It may be that a definition would make this clearer.

Click here to read the full Phil Claypool Memo to Integrity Florida – Ethics Reform Bill Analysis

Are hedge fund managers moving to Florida a good idea?

Cheryl Carpenter Kilmek in BizPac Review reports:

“The word is out among hedge fund owners that Palm Beach County is the place to be. Kelly Smallridge, President and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, says in the past two weeks she has been getting phone calls every day from New York hedge fund owners tired of high taxes and cold weather looking for a change.

Following a recent New York Post article that said, “The city’s hedge-fund executives are flying south — and it’s not for vacation,” Fla. Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to hedge fund owners asking them to consider Florida, which prompted a tremendous response.”

But is this really good for Florida?

Florida has had its share of hedge fund managers gone bad. Can you say Ponzi scheme? For example, Scott W. Rothstein, is the disbarred lawyer and the former managing shareholder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale law firm Rothstein-Rosenfeldt-Adler. He was accused of funding his philanthropy, political contributions, law firm salaries, and an extravagant lifestyle with a massive $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

HedgeCo.net lists the following recent cases of hedge fund manager fraud:

Hedge Fund Manager Convicted by Jury In Black Diamond Ponzi Scheme

February 12, 2013 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – A Federal jury has convicted a certified public accountant Jonathan D. Davey, 48, of Newark, Ohio, of four criminal charges relating to an investment fraud conspiracy, the FBI reports. The federal indictment, returned in February 2012, […]

Charges Allege $311 Million Global Hedge Fund Fraud Scheme

February 8, 2013 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – An indictment was filed and an information unsealed today charging two business associates in the hedge fund management industry with defrauding institutional investors and causing collective losses of more than $311 million, announced United States Attorney […]

Witness in Rajaratnam Hedge Fund Insider Trading Case Gets One Year Behind Bars

February 1, 2013 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Roomy Khan, a government co-operator in the biggest hedge fund insider trading conspiracy in US history, has been sentenced to one year in prison. Khan has pleaded guilty to passing inside information to Galleon Group fund […]

BCM Hedge Fund Analyst Sentenced in Manhattan

February 1, 2013 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Jason Pflaum, a former research analyst with the hedge fund Barai Capital Management (BCM), was sentenced to time served, followed by two years of supervised release, for his participation in an insider trading scheme in which […]

Insider Trading: California Hedge Fund Founder Gets 2 Years Behind Bars

January 25, 2013 : Permalink

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – San Francisco hedge fund founder Doug Whitman was sentenced yesterday to two years behind bars after a conviction on securities fraud and conspiracy charges. Whitman Capital, the hedge fund he had presided over had about $100 million in assets. […]

Hedge Fund Fraud: Wireless Analyst Sentenced to 4+ Years

January 16, 2013 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – The securities research analyst who had publicly refused in 2010 to wear a wire in a hedge fund insider trading trading probe was sentenced yesterday to over four years in prison, Bloomberg’s HedgeWorld reports. John Kinnucan […]

California Hedge Fund Manager Jailed For Fraud

January 15, 2013 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Albert Ke-Jung Hu, a silicon valley hedge fund manager, has been jailed for 12 years on charges of defrauding investors out of at least $6.5 million. “Instead of investing the money as promised, Hu “converted that money […]

Madoff: Doomed Hedge Fund Magnate Speaks Out

December 28, 2012 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – The master of manipulation, Bernie Madoff, second only to Charles Ponzi himself, sent out a Christmas memo claiming that “Insider trading… has been present in the market forever, but rarely been prosecuted.” “Markets have always focused on […]

2 Prominent Hedge Fund Managers Found Guilty

December 18, 2012 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – A New York jury has found Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman, both former hedge fund managers, guilty of insider trading charges. The NYT reports: “The government built its case around the testimony of two key witnesses: Spyridon Adondakis, […]

Three Unregistered Brokers Charged For Improper Sales Of Hedge Fund Interests

December 10, 2012 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – The SEC has charged three brokers who raised funds for an Oregon-based hedge fund manager for failing to register as broker-dealers before engaging in securities transactions. “Broker-dealer registration is crucial to protecting investors from Ponzi schemes […]

SAC Hedge Fund Insider Trading Professor Resigns

November 30, 2012 : 

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – The Neurologist linked to the Alzheimer drug tests/hedge fund insider trading case, has resigned from his position at the University of Michigan. Professor Sid Gilman is accused of leaking data to SAC hedge fund trader Mathew Martoma. Gilman was paid […]

SEC Preparing Civil Suit Against Cohen’s Hedge Fund SAC Capital

November 29, 2012 :

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – A week after hedge fund trader Mathew Martoma was charged with insider trading, the SEC is going after the hedge fund in question, Steven A. Cohen’s hedge fund SAC Capital, according to people familiar with the situation. “In […]

Study finds red light cameras cause accidents

Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) conducted a study on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%.

The 2008 study found:

“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.

Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”

“The rigorous studies clearly show red-light cameras don’t work,” said lead author Barbara Langland-Orban, professor and chair of health policy and management at the USF College of Public Health.

The 2011 study update states:

“It is important for the public at large and federal, state, and local officials to understand that motor vehicle safety is advanced through evidence-based methods. Attempts to generate revenue through traffic citations are directly contrary to public safety since infractions are increased by improper roadway engineering, creating hazards and expense for the public.”

The 2011 study update indicates that the media is complicit in promoting the positives of red light cameras and ignoring negatives. The 2011 study update noted:

“One journal reporter, who requested anonymity, revealed that the media can be a source of misinformation on RLCs. She disclosed that special interests that profit from cameras have threatened to reduce or withdraw their advertising revenues if the news is not reported that RLCs provide a safety benefit. The reporter explained that with such threats, journalistic ethics permit an editor to report the advertiser’s perspective if also disclosing the contrary assessment that RLCs pose a safety threat, leaving readers to form their own conclusion. However, she explained that not all editors abide by this principle, which is compounded by the many controversies surrounding RLCs. For example, a Florida newspaper reported that their local poll found support for RLCs. The second half of the article mentioned some of the concerns about RLCs, which included using them to generate revenue, failing to save lives, failing to significantly reduce crashes, and increasing rear-end crashes (Thalji, 2010).”

Cities and counties install red light cameras as a “hidden tax” on motorists. RLCs are a new revenue stream for government and those companies that produce RLCs according to the study:

Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs.

Some studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major “research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras.

 The Florida legislature is considering HB 4011 which would repeal the use of red light cameras in the state.

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.

City of Sarasota, FL Accused of being “Coercive Monopoly”

On Tuesday, January 22, 2013 the City of Sarasota, Florida responded to Minder & Associate’s Engineering Corporation’s presentation to the City of Sarasota, Florida City Commission on January 7, 2013.

City of Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino assigned Sarasota Police Department Case No. 13-003952 to M & A’s Complaint of Coercive Monopoly against the City of Sarasota, FL. City of Sarasota, FL Police Chief Bernadette DiPino has assigned Detective Jack Carter to investigate M & A’s Complaint of Coercive Monopoly against the City of Sarasota.

John Minder is asking, “If anyone has any knowledge of why and how the City of Sarasota, FL Purchasing Department is exporting jobs and tax dollars out of the City they should contact Detective Jack Carter whose email is Jack.Carter@sarasotagov.com and his Telephone Number is 941-316-1199.”

The following is the full text of the presentation by John Minder on January 7, 2012:

Good Afternoon Mayor and City Commissioners:

My name is John C. Minder, P. E., P. S. M. and for the Record I am a Registered Professional Engineer and a Registered Professional Surveyor & Mapper in the State of Florida.

I am here this afternoon to request that the City of Sarasota, FL stop violating my rights as a resident, voter and tax payer in Sarasota County and the State of Florida. Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation (M&A) has spent the time and money to prepare the following Three Year Contract Proposals for:

Re: Request For Proposal # 11-13K Consulting Engineer Intersection & Roadway Capacity Enhancements (CCNA)

Re: Request For Proposal # 11-52K Consulting Engineer- Intersection & Roadway Capacity Enhancements (CCNA)

Re: Request For Proposal #11-14-lkd (CCNA) Consulting Engineering Services for Projects including Drainage, Storm Sewer, Curb & Grading, Roadside Design and Sidewalks

Re: Request for Proposal # 12-54K Services for Consulting Civil Engineer for Small Roadway Projects (CCNA)

Re: Request for Proposal # 12-34K Services for Consulting Civil Engineer -Small Utility Projects (CCNA)

Re: Request for Proposal # 12-22k Continuing Consulting Engineering Service Water & Sewer Engineer of Record (CCNA) and although well qualified with all of our key personnel being well qualified as Registered Professionals in the State of Florida and with over ten years of experience in their respective areas of Expertise. M&A was ranked last in the Selection Process by the City of Sarasota, FL Selection Committee and the City of Sarasota, FL Purchasing Department on all of our Proposals.

M&A has repeatedly requested that our Firm be provided with written notarized statements by each of the Selection Committee Members on why M&A was given the ranking we were given and M&A has been told that the written notarized statements are nonexistent. M & A has a right by Florida Statues to be provided with the written notarized statements.

M & A has been told verbally that the reason we were given the ranking that we were given on all of preceding Proposals is that it was the City of Sarasota, FL Purchasing Manager’s Decision that we were not a local firm and we did not have a local office. M&A has been located in Sarasota County for the last twenty six years and is registered with the State of Florida to practice Professional Landscape Architecture, Professional Engineering and Professional Surveying & Mapping Services. We have held a Sarasota County Business License to provide Professional Engineering and Professional Surveying & Mapping Services since 1986 or for last twenty six years.

M&A meets all of the requirements of the City of Sarasota, FL Procurement Code and we submitted Copies of all of our respective licenses in the Proceeding Proposals to City of Sarasota, FL.

It is M&A’s opinion that the City of Sarasota, FL is practicing Coercive Monopoly in the Selection of Consultants for Professional Services. M & A went to the City of Sarasota, FL Police Department to file a Complaint of Coercive Monopoly against the City of Sarasota, FL and Detective Jack Carter, White Collar Investigator, came out and met with me in the Lobby. After discussing the Complaint with me he told me that the next time I heard from him it would be with him and a Detective from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. I received a telephone call and an email from Caption Paul Sutton who was calling and emailing me on behalf of the City of Sarasota, FL recently retired Police Chief telling me that my right to file a Complaint of Coercive Monopoly against the City of Sarasota, FL was being denied because the Police Chief decided that the City of Sarasota, FL Police Department had a Conflict of Interest in investigating my Complaint and I probably would not be satisfied with their investigation. Caption Sutton told me that I had a right to file my Complaint with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s County Sheriff’s Office or any other Law Enforcement Agency. I went to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and met with Detective John Kost who told me that the City of Sarasota, FL Police Department response was a “cop out” and he suggested that I file my Complaint with Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would have a Detective on the Complaint within 24 hours. That Complaint was filed on September 7, 2012 with Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office and I have not heard from Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office since I filed the Complaint.

Why can’t a resident of Sarasota County file a Complaint with the City of Sarasota, FL and expect the City of Sarasota, FL Police Department to investigate it in a fair, unbiased and competent manor?

Report: Florida’s Broken Campaign Finance System

Integrity Florida has released its report on Florida’s campaign finance system. During testimony before the Florida House of Representatives Ethics & Elections Subcommittee Dan Krassner and Ben Wilcox stated, “Currently, Florida law limits direct contributions to candidates to $500 per contributor per election cycle, but clearly there are glaring loopholes to these limits.  Nearly seventy-five percent of all of the money raised in the 2012 election cycle avoided candidate accounts and instead flowed through ‘so-called’ independent committees and political parties based on Integrity Florida analysis of state-level campaign contribution data from the Florida Division of Elections database.”

“Because some of the money is transferred from a CCE to an ECO or PC — often in a veiled attempt to shield the donor and recipient from the disclosure — some of the contributions are double counted.  With several types of funding vehicles allowing unlimited contributions, it is time to admit that donation limits are not stopping any contributors from spending unlimited amounts of money, ” noted Krassner and Wilcox.

The report points out that from 1981 to 1990, there were 340 federal public corruption convictions by United States Attorneys’ Offices of Florida officials, according to U.S. Department of Justice data.  That number more than doubled between 1991 and 2000 reaching 715 convictions and dropped just slightly between 2001 and 2010 to 674.

Read the full report and it recommendations:

Florida’s Broken Campaign Finance System -Integrity Florida Report to the Florida House of Representatives… by

The Integrity of the Florida Public Service Commission in the “Toilet”?

Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) website states, “The Florida Public Service Commission is committed to making sure that Florida’s consumers receive some of their most essential services — electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater — in a safe, reasonable, and reliable manner. In doing so, the PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in one or more of three key areas: rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitoring of safety, reliability, and service.”

The FPSC was considering a rate increase for Florida Power and Light (FPL) late last year. However, the process according to those attending the public hearings on the rate increase was usurped by FPL and commission staff at the expense of Florida citizens. Larry Nelson, a citizen present during the 2012 hearings in Sarasota and Miami, outlined in a letter how FPL was given preferential treatment by the Commission and staff.

Nelson wrote, “My first stop on my adventure was the public service hearing held in Sarasota on May 31, 2012. Here I first saw the most shocking thing about the public hearing process. In the lobby of the hearing site (Sarasota City Hall) were numerous FPL customer service representatives wearing FPL shirts who are greeting members of the public arriving to speak to the rate increase proposal. And FPL seems to have their own dedicated room. Which made no sense at all. It’s like a court hearing but one of the parties to the case gets to have their own room in the courthouse and a staff to lobby everyone, judges, jurors and the public as they walk by as to why their side is right. FPL also gets to have a table handing out literature. Nobody else gets to have a room or a table or representatives right outside the hearing room. There is no Audubon Society, no Environmental Defense Fund, no Florida Public Interest Research Group in the lobby lobbying (I guess that is where the term comes from!) against the rate increase or against the proposals or actions of FPL.”

The result of the rate increase hearings was FPSC issuing an Order on January 14th, 2013 granting Florida Power and Light FPL the ability to self-regulate over the next 4-years and to increase rates without citizen representation by the Office of Public Counsel. Thomas Saporito, from Saprodani Associates, believes that the process by which the FPSC came to issue this order was at best flawed and at worse illegal violating  multiple Florida statutes.

Saporito states, “The recent decision by the Florida Public Service Commission has placed public trust and confidence and the integrity of the agency in the “toilet”. No longer can the citizens of Florida have any measure of trust or confidence in the agency to be an advocate for the Public Interest regarding electric rates established for the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL). ”

According to Saporito, “The settlement is “illegal” as a matter of law because the Commission does not have requisite jurisdiction and authority to consider the settlement for several reasons:

(1) the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) opposed the settlement and OPC represents all FPL ratepayers – and is a vital and required signatory to any FPL settlement;

(2) the settlement violates the “due-process” rights of citizens who would otherwise intervene where FPL seeks recovery for power plants which have not yet been built or are not yet operational;

(3) the Commission placed the settlement hearing on a rush basis and denied intervenors from fully participating in the discovery process; and

(4) the settlement allows FPL to create a “slush-fund” and access depreciation and dismantlement funds without proper oversight for the sole purpose of raising FPL’s return on equity (profits for its shareholders).”

Thomas Saporito filed a motion for reconsideration on January 14th, 2013 asking the Commission to reconsider its decision.

According to Saporito: “I am gravely concerned about the Commission’s approval of the revised settlement with FPL where the citizens had no representation by the Office of Public Counsel. I have raised serious mis-conduct issues about the entire Commission with Steven J. Stolting, Inspector General – Office of Inspector General and I have asked his office to conduct an investigation.”

Depending on the Commission’s decision on his motion to reconsider – Saporito, “Fully intends to challenge the Commission’s Order – in filing an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court – and to file with agencies of the federal government – and perhaps a civil legal action.”

Is Any E-Verify Bill Dead on Arrival in the Florida Senate?

In 2010 Republican Jeff Atwater was the President of the Florida Senate. When the committee assignments were made he appointed Senator Jeremy Ring, a progressive Democrat, to be Committee Chair of  The Government Oversight & Accounting Committee. Then as now Republicans had an overwhelming majority in both legislative houses.

George Fuller wrote in an email, “On the surface it would appear to the average citizen Atwater was extending his hand for a truly bi-partisan Florida Senate. However, Atwater may have had a more sinister reason for making the appointment. The reason was he wanted a Democrat to block any immigration bill filed so his hands would remain clean as it was blocked in committee.”

As the story unfolded in 2010 Senator Nancy Detert filed S1880 an immigration bill that would require all contractors with the state to be enrolled in the Federal E-Verify program so only legal workers would participate in taxpayer funded projects. What citizen would not want every dime of their tax money to go to legal contract workers instead of to illegal aliens who would head to Western Union every payday and ship the money out of the country especially during the high unemployment being experienced in the state in 2010?

Well, after Senator Detert filed the bill it was assigned to 5 committees to go through before it would reach the senate floor.

Fuller states, “I have researched hundreds of bills filed in the legislature and those with 5 committee assignments never get through all the committees in 8 weeks time which is how long the session is. Looking at the bill assignments those familiar with the process knew the chance of getting through all of the committees in the allotted time was slim.”

“But Senate President Atwater was not satisfied with 98% odds the bill would not get through all the committees and that is where Senate Chair Jeremy Ring of the Government Oversight and Accounting came into play. The first committee assignment for S1880 was Democrat Jeremy Ring’s committee. Needless to say the other four committees were not required to impede the bill’s progress through the system since Ring never called up the bill during the session,” notes Fuller

Now we fast forward to 2013 and the incoming Senate President is Republican Don Gaetz. Who did he name Chairman of the Government Oversight and Accounting Committee? Answer: Jeremy Ring.

But it gets worse says Fuller. Senate President Gaetz also appointed Democrat Senator Bill Montford to Chair the Agricultural Committee with Democrat Senator Dwight Bullard as Vice Chair and Democrat Senator Elanor Sobel as Chair of  the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. One wonders how Republicans feel about this form of bi-partisanship?

Today Jeff Atwater is Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. It makes one wonder what higher office is in store for Senator Gaetz.

EDITORS NOTE:

The table below shows that legal immigration is simply a conduit for importing poverty into Florida. The legislature will never solve or reduce the poverty level in Florida with the same immigration policy of “Family Reunification.”

Click on the chart for a larger view.