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Rubio supports cleansing Florida voter rolls

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Florida Senator Marco Rubio stated unequivocally, “I wouldn’t characterize it as an effort to purge Latinos from the voting rolls.” At a Bloomberg News breakfast today, June 14th, Senator Rubio went on to say, “I would characterize it as twofold. No. 1 is, I think there’s the goal of ensuring that everyone who votes in Florida is qualified to vote. If you’re not a citizen of the United States, you shouldn’t be voting. That’s the law. And, I mean — I mean, what’s the counter to that, that we’re willing to tolerate 100 illegal voters on our rolls? So I do think that — I mean, why — how could anyone argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls and removing them from the voter rolls? They shouldn’t be voting.”

The Department of Justice letter to Governor Scott reads:

… Your June 6 response has provided no information that allows us to change our view that the State’s new list maintenance program for verification of citizen is a “program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official list of eligible voters,” and that this program is being conducted within the 90-day quiet period established by the (National Voter Registration Act). Likewise, you have provided no information indicating that the program fits within any of the statutory exceptions for programs that may be conducted within that quiet period.

Instead, it appears that Florida has initiated a new program for system voter removal, which may ultimately target more than 180,000 registered voters …

… In these circumstances, continuing with any future mailings on this basis during the 90-day quiet period, or removing persons form the voter registration list for failing to respond to the State’s inquiries to date, violate Section 8 of the NVRA. Please immediately cease this unlawful conduct.

According to John Fund and Quin Hillyer, both Senior Editors at American Spectator, there is no 90-day quiet period in the NVRA for purging illegal voters from the rolls. According to Quin Hillyer, who helps craft Section 8 of the NVRA, it requires Florida to do what it is doing now. Section 8 was put in place to insure voter rolls were maintained in proper order with only legal voters on it.

Senator Rubio noted, “What is the argument in favor of leaving people on the rolls that aren’t qualified to vote in the United States?”

Scott Walker Recall Victory sends ripples across Florida

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There appears to be a tsunami building and the epicenter of the earthquake that caused it is Madison, Wisconsin. Democrats across Florida are shuttering as it was one of their own, Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (FL CD-20), who said this recall election was a harbinger for November 6, 2012.

On May 27, 2012 Debbie, Chair of the Democrat National Committee, stated, “And so what I think the implications will be is that ultimately I think Tom Barrett will pull this out. But regardless, it has given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do the dry run that we need of our massive, significant, dynamic grassroots presidential campaign, which can’t really be matched by the Romney campaign or the Republicans because they’ve ignored on-the-ground operations.” [My emphasis]

Greta Van Susteren reports DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement on the results of the Wisconsin recall election, “Despite the disappointing outcome of tonight’s election, there is no question that over the past year this recall effort sent a message to Scott Walker that his brand of divisive politics is offensive and wrong. Thousands of Wisconsinites mounted this effort in the face of a flood of out of state, secret and corporate special interest money– amounting to a massive $31 million war chest for Governor Walker to just $4 million on our side.”

The Washington Post reports, “I don’t think that this is anything other than an important election for Wisconsin voters, for Wisconsin working families,” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told me in an interview here Tuesday afternoon.”

Can you say backpedaling? I thought “D” meant drive and “R” meant reverse? Maybe D means Debbie drives Democrats off a cliff?

Republican Party of Sarasota County, Florida Chairman Joe Gruters released the following statement regarding Governor Scott Walker’s decisive victory in Wisconsin’s recall election:

“I would like to personally congratulate Governor Scott Walker on his victory in today’s gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin. After millions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of man hours logged by big labor, the National Democratic Party and even the local Sarasota County Democratic Party, Americans headed to the polls tonight and sent an overwhelming message in support of free enterprise and against both big labor and liberal policies.”

“This free enterprise & conservative message was sent loudly in Wisconsin tonight and will be echoed across the country as we approach November. Rather than turning to the government for dependence, Americans are coming together in support of growing the economy and creating jobs while also shrinking the size of government and cutting spending by enacting common-sense, conservative policies. The Wisconsin results will empower Conservative leaders across the country, like our Governor Rick Scott, who are willing to stand up in support of free enterprise and make the tough decisions to ensure that their citizens are living in free country that is of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Florida is a key swing state in November. President Obama in 2008 carried Florida by just over 200,000 votes out of 10 million votes cast, a margin of .02%.

The line in the sand is clear. Bigger government, more national debt and union control or small government, a balanced budget, debt elimination and free markets. It appears the voters in Wisconsin picked the latter.

This victory does not bode well for Democrats in Florida, especially with Debbie Wasserman-Schulz calling the shots for the party.

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Florida’s 2012 Wedge Issues

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As November 6, 2012 approaches, and both political parties begin posturing, their messages are becoming clearer. Every election has wedge issues. Issues will appear that drive voters to pick one candidate over another. Florida is a microcosm of America. Florida is a critical state to carry and I believe will determine the outcome of the Presidential election and which party controls the U.S. Senate.

I see three wedge issues in Florida, which will carry the day on November 6th. They are: the national debt, gay marriage and competence. I also believe two groups will have a major impact on elections in Florida at every level. Please bear with me as I explain.While the economy remains a major issue so does the burgeoning public debt at every level of government. This issue is a concern especially among women with children. The Washington Times reports, “The debate over whether to raise the legal limit on government borrowing has riveted Americans, with a large majority worried about the potential consequences regardless of whether Congress votes to allow the national debt to keep increasing. But when pressed to name their biggest concern, nearly half of respondents say they are alarmed by the prospect that the debt could grow beyond its current limit of $14.3 trillion, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Only 35 percent say they are more worried about the risk of default and economic destabilization if Congress does not raise the debt limit.” [My emphasis]

View Point Florida  found in a May 2012 poll that, “[W]hen asked whether or not deficit spending was necessary to grow the American economy, 30% of respondents stated that such spending was in fact necessary, while 61% said the economy could be boosted without deficit spending. . . We see similar numbers when voters are asked if raising revenue or cutting spending should be the primary focus of Congress or the Florida Legislature in dealing with budget deficits. Just 26% of respondents said the federal government should focus on raising revenue to balance the budget, to 67% who prefer it focus more on cutting spending. The preference for spending cuts rises to 72% when voters are asked the same question about Florida’s state government, with just 20% of respondents saying Tallahassee should focus more on raising revenue.”

Gays and marriage are a toxic combination in Florida. Used in the same sentence they create a very negative reaction for Floridians. Quinnipiac University did a Florida poll and found: On the issue of same-sex marriage, Florida voters, who have banned such unions in the State Constitution, now say they oppose them 50 – 40 percent. Men oppose same-sex marriage 55 – 35 percent while women are divided 44 – 46 percent. Support is 57 – 33 percent among voters under 35 years old. Opposition is 52 – 38 percent among voters 35 to 54 years old and 55 – 36 percent among voters over 55. When given a three-way choice: 36 percent favor gay marriage; 34 percent back civil unions; and 23 percent oppose all legal recognition.

Competence has become a wedge issue in Florida. Elected officials that pander or are incompetent are frowned upon by Floridians. According to Quinnipiac University, “Romney is viewed as better able to handle the economy, 50 – 40 percent.” Competent clearly trumps likable in Florida. Floridians are less concerned about what Mitt Romney did with his money than what President Obama is doing with taxpayers money. Comparing Bain Capitol investments to federal government spending is a loser here  in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a key swing state and a must carry for President Obama. Floridians are shifting towards traditional positions on the national debt, marriage and electing a competent leader. I believe this reflects the growing influence of two Florida groups: the TEA Party and Evangelicals. While the media wants you to believe the TEA Party is dead may I suggest it is very much alive and kicking people out of office. The TEA Party has matured and is now taking leadership positions in the Republican Party at the local and state levels. I am seeing the TEA Party supporting local candidates at the city, county and school board levels and having an impact on local policy decisions within the Republican Party infrastructure. There are still those old guard Republicans that are pushing back but the TEA Party is winning overall. We are three or four election cycles away from a complete constitutional conservative takeover of the Republican Party.

President Obama has decided to make social issues like gay marriage top of mind. By doing so he has already lost. Pollsters and media outlets are playing the “gay marriage will make no difference at the polls” record over and over. However, I will tell you that a few percentage point shift on social issues like gay marriage, the attack on religious freedom and abortion is energizing the one million Evangelicals who did not vote in the 2008 election in Florida. This group is energized, now more than it ever has been, with Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Ministers, Rabbis and Reverends energized and preaching the values in our Constitution from the pulpit.

The President has created these wedge issues in the hope of energizing those who voted for him in 2008. What he is missing is by creating wedges he has shown himself to be a great divider rather than the great uniter he touted himself to be.

I predict Florida will go deep red in November. What do you think?

RELATED COLUMNS:

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City of Sarasota accused of violating Florida anti-trust law

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Government contracting has become a major sticking point in Sarasota County, Florida and now at the City of Sarasota Commission level. Sarasota County government has had problems within its contracting process. Staff was allowed to operate in a manner that brought discredit upon the County Commissioners. The County has lost not only their administrator but the confidence of the people. In March 2011 former County employee Rodney Gene Jones was arrested for accepting bribes from contractors. Jones was arrested under the Florida Anti-Trust Act of 1980.

Whenever our elected officials become too dependent on staff and committees bad things can and usually do happen. Fast forward to today. Are we seeing a repeat of what happened at the county level with the City of Sarasota? The filing of a complaint involving Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation may give us a clue.John C. Minder P. E., P. S. M., President of Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation, has been a Registered Professional Engineer in six states including Florida and a Registered Professional Surveyor & Mapper in two states including Florida. John has lived in Sarasota County for thirty years.Recently John submitted a routine proposal to the City of Sarasota. His proposal was ultimately denied, which is fine until John began checking into how his bid was scored and who scored it. What got John’s interest was an anonymous letter he received about possible staff malfeasance on a county contract due to improper scoring.

John submitted a formal complaint to the City Commissioners.  In his complaint John states, “It is our professional opinion that the … scoring of points out of a possible 100 points was arbitrary and capricious by two of the Engineering Technicians on the Selection Committee.”

The complaint points out, “Although we are not trained investigators it is our professional opinion there appears to be collusion between the scoring of points by Engineering Technician’s Proposer No. 1 and Proposer No. 5 of 66.5 points or at a minimum a lack of professional qualifications to be on the Selection Committee. It is also our professional opinion that there is some sort of a connection between Bayside Engineering, Inc. of Tampa, FL and some members of the Selection Committee.”

The complaint concludes, “Our appeal to the City of Sarasota, FL City Commissions of the violation of CHAPTER 542 OF THE FLORIDA ANTITRUST ACT OF 1980 includes the arbitrary and capricious scoring of points by some of the members of the Professional Review Selection Committee. Some members of the Professional Review Selection Committee were not Registered Professional Engineers but they were reviewing the qualifications of Registered Professional Engineers when they were not qualified Registered Professional Engineers.”

Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation requested signed notarized statements of the professional opinions of each member of the Selection Committee in their ranking of Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation based on the written Proposal submitted by Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation.Deputy City Administrator Marlon Brown acknowledged John Minder’s information request and provided all information requested except for the notarized statements. Marlon in an April 20, 2012 e-mail to John stated, “As shared with you when you met with me, I stated that our policy did not require that a written and notarized reason from each committee member as to why you were not chosen or short-listed be provided. You stated that this would help you with future proposals. I understood that but I did not feel comfortable doing as you requested. As a courtesy, I shared with you that I would check with the City Attorney’s Office to see if they agreed or disagreed with providing the information. I have done that and unfortunately, the City Attorney agrees that this should not be done. I also shared with you that if you had a problem with our procurement policy that you have the right to share those concerns with the City Commission at any Commission meeting under citizens’ input or you can do so when we bring the revisions to the policy to the City Commission (date to be determined). Sorry that we could not be of further assistance. Have a great weekend.”John did appear before the City Commission and made them aware of his concerns. According to Deputy City Administrator Brown one request for proposal was in fact cancelled because of John’s showing that the specifications were flawed. Marlin also said that no evidence of any collusion or special treatment in this particular bid was found.

Mayor Suzanne Atwell has spoken of an accountable City of Sarasota, FL and City Staff. In the Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation case answering their request was a first step in accountability and transparency. It is fitting and proper for elected officials to be highly sensitive to the citizens they represent.

Citizens like John, you and I must be constantly vigilant of government, its hired staff and appointed committee members colluding to give special treatment to any firm. As government becomes more elitist and arrogant so do staff and appointed committee members. At times it seems staff and committees run roughshod over citizens and businesses without proper oversight by elected officials.

It is the duty of elected city and county officials to protect the property rights of citizens, not abuse them. Accountable means to the people, period.