Tag Archive for: Sarasota

Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rallies Come to Florida

On Saturday, October 20, 2012 concerned citizens across Florida will voice public opposition to the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Mandate. These rallies are taking place the weekend before the final Presidential Debate, being held at Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida.

The HHS Mandate forces all employers—including Catholic schools and hospitals—to provide surgical sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and free contraceptives through their health plans, regardless of religious or moral convictions. Refusal to obey ‘central planner’ mandates millions in IRS penalties forcing closings.

The St Petersburg Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally will begin at 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM joining over 150 other cities and towns (10 in Florida) from Maine to Hawaii that are participating in this national event. A complete list of rally sites and other details is building at StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com.

“The St Petersburg Oct 20 Voter Stand Up Rally builds on the tremendous momentum created by the two Stand Up Rallies held on March 23, and June 8 totaling 130,000 citizens of all faiths attending local rallies in 150 cities. With the November elections in sight, the Oct 20 Voter Stand Up Rally is expected to draw even larger crowds,” says Dr. David McKalip.

The “St Petersburg Voter Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally” has been organized by Michael F Brennan, and the ad hoc Coalition Committee. Guest speakers include those candidates for office who are appalled at the ‘central planning’ characteristics of the Health and Human Services plans intending to decimate religious freedom with million dollar penalties that could lead to government takeover of charities and hospitals.

What: Voter Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally
When: Saturday, Oct 20, 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM.
Where: Near 4th St North and 62nd Ave North, St Petersburg http://founderscorner.us
Who: Local citizens opposed to Obamacare’s HHS Mandate

Guest Speakers include State Senator Jeff Brandes and State Representative Larry Ahern. The date for the Voter Stand Up Rally was chosen to highlight the opportunity presented by the Nov 6th election.

“Obamacare has been ruled constitutional. We must ensure that religious freedom will be protected in subsequent health care legislation” explained Michael F Brennan. “We must inform the voter that faith-based institutions and private businesses should not be violated or penalized for religious convictions that are protected by Law and are embedded in the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

Brennan emphasized that the Voter Stand Up Rally has nothing to do with access to contraception. “There is no ‘war on contraception’ in our country. Contraception is already widely, cheaply available. What’s really under attack today is religious freedom. ‘Central Planning’ manipulations are at the heart of these Health and Human Services planners. Takeover of charities by Washington D.C. in order to weaken opposition to future directives is endemic in their modus operandi. Just connect the dots.”

The Oct 20 Voter Stand Up Rally will inform St Petersburg: “We’re standing up for the First Amendment and demanding that all our health care laws respect religious freedom. The Supreme Court will not address the HHS mandate of Obamacare till late 2013.” Brennan explained.

For more information please contact: Michael F Brennan, (727) 518-5171, michaelfbrennan@gmail.com.

FL Democrats – Vote Against Combat Disabled Veterans

The Democrat Party of Sarasota, Florida has issued its sample ballots for the November 6, 2012 election. On the sample ballot is a recommendation to Vote No on the Florida Veterans Property Tax, Constitutional Amendment 2.

Florida Veterans Property Tax, Amendment 2 will appear on the November 6, 2012 state ballot in Florida as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The proposed measure would allow for property tax discounts for disabled veterans. This bill explicitly extends the the rights to ad valorem tax discounts, made available in 2010 to all veterans who were residents of Florida prior to their service, to all combat-disabled veterans currently living in Florida whether they were residents prior to their service or not. The proposed measure requires 60 percent voter approval for adoption.

Lee F. Kichen, Sarasota County, Florida resident and Chairman of the Legislative Committee of Florida’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) decried any recommendation to vote ‘No’ on Amendment 2. “We are absolutely astounded that there are political activists that are telling Florida voters that veterans with combat related disabilities don’t deserve a benefit earned in the crucible of battle. The precious right to vote has been guaranteed for over two hundred years by the countless sacrifices of American men and women who served in combat,” states Kichen

“A vote Yes on Amendment 2 is a vote for all of Florida”, says Kichen.

Amendment 2 changes a previously approved Constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters. According to local veterans it “rights a wrong by amending the language to include all combat disabled veterans living in Florida”. The amendment, if passed, becomes effective on January 1, 2013. The reduction in ad valorem taxes would not be realized by disabled veterans until tax year 2013–2014. Florida already provides a discounted ad valorem tax payment for combat-related disability, but it is currently limited to those individuals who were Florida residents when entering U.S. military service.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, Florida is home to 1.68 million veterans, of which 240,102 are receiving disability compensation. Florida has the highest percentage of population who are veterans of any state.

The League of Women Voters also opposes Amendment 2. To see their voting guide click here.

Courtesy of New York Times Company

Deirdre Macnab, state president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, writes, “Being invited to write a column to oppose tax breaks for disabled veterans, low-income seniors and spouses of veterans and first responders (our EMTs, firefighters, etc.) killed in the line of duty is like being asked to throw torpedoes at the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. But do it I will. That’s because this November, Florida voters will see 11 of the most confusing, complex and sometimes misleading state ballot amendments ever proposed, and voters will need to decide: Do I want this in our state constitution?”

Kitchen notes, “The League of Women voters stated the 11 amendments before the voters are ‘…confusing, complex and sometimes misleading…”. Amendment 2 is clearly and unambiguously the most simple. It allows all combat related disabled veterans, homesteaded in Florida and over the age of 65 to earn a benefit that has been already on the books for men and women who entered the military from Florida.'”

Macnab states, “The League’s concern is twofold: First, is the state constitution the appropriate place for tax breaks … for anyone? …Second, should Florida have a level playing field for taxes?”

“Florida is a better place because so many of these aging heroes who chose to retire here. The League and other activist groups are wrongly focused on decreased property tax revenues. They ignore the fact that the 1.6 million veterans living in Florida generate $9.1 billion in direct revenue from the federal government in the form of disability and survivor benefits, VA Health Care, VA construction projects and annual operating expenses. Veterans pay sales, school and property taxes. The League and other opponents fail to understand that a vote against Amendment 2 is more than a vote against combat disabled veterans,” states Kichen.

The League estimates property tax revenues would be reduced by $15 million over the first 3 years if Amendment 2 is passed. Each disabled veteran would see an average decrease in their property taxes of approximately $6,200 over three years.

EDITORS NOTE:

Democrats are also told to vote NO on:

Amendment 8, which repeals ban of public dollars for religious funding (the Freedom of Religion Amendment).

Amendment 9, which authorizes the legislature to totally or partially exempt surviving spouses of military veterans or first responders who died in the line of duty from paying property taxes.

Amendment 11, which authorizes counties and municipalities to offer additional tax exemptions on homes of low-income seniors.

Professional Protesters Attack Romney Supporters

Zeke Miller from BuzzFeed Politics reports, “Supporters and opponents of Mitt Romney faced off today, September 20, 2012, outside of the Republican nominee’s rally here in an at-times-violent confrontation.”

“As hundreds of Romney supporters lined the sidewalk outside the Ringling Museum of Art, a group of more than 20 protestors carrying an effigy of Romney marched in and confronted them as both sides chanted,” notes Miller.

This is one of the pictures taken by Miller and appears in his column:

Photo courtesy of Zeke Miller

Notice the anti-Romey protester with dark hair in the white baseball hat and dark blue shirt wearing dark rimmed glasses with someone’s arm around him.

Now look at this video taken by Tampa Bay Online of protesters in Tampa on September 11, 2012. The protesters are supporting Islamists at a press conference in front of the Hillsborough County School Board building. The protesters infiltrated, shouted down speakers and agitated at the press conference, trying to disrupt it. Look at the young protester with dark hair, long side burns and wearing dark rimed glasses and a white open collar shirt who is visible at 43 seconds into the below video:

It is the same protester who led both the Sarasota and Tampa, FL events. His name is Kelly Benjamin and he is a professional protester who makes it his job to be at these events. Out of town protesters come to Sarasota, but at whose request? As Miller from BuzzFeed Politics reports, “One of the men leading the protest, organized by Occupy and Move-On according to demonstrators, repeatedly cut into the Romney line — drawing pushing and shoving.”

These professional protesters, led by Benjamin from Occupy, came to Tampa and Sarasota seeking to disrupt free speech. Whether pro-Islamist or anti-Romney they were there to create havoc, provoke reactions and promote anarchy. Some of the protesters proudly displayed anarchistic tattoos.

Kelly Benjamin (left) at Central Command Wall Street Protest March, September 26, 2011, Zuccotti Park, New York

Benjamin ran for the Tampa City Council. He is in a number of YouTube videos here and here.

Below is a photo of Benjamin with Cornell West at Occupy Wall Street in New York. West draws his intellectual contributions from such diverse traditions as the black church, Marxism, pragmatism, and transcendentalism. West wrote that, in his youth, he admired “the sincere black militancy of Malcolm X, the defiant rage of the Black Panther Party […] and the livid black theology of James Cone.”

Kelly Benjamin with Cornell West at Occupy Wall Street.

RELATED VIDEO: Mitt Romney at Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL – September 20, 2012:

SEIU Paid Protesters at Romney Cleveland Ohio Rally paid $11.00 an hour:

American Airlines Lays Off Over 1,000 in Florida

Gov. Rick Scott issued the following statement after American Airlines’ announcement that it expects to reduce their Florida workforce by more than 1,000 workers before the end of the year:

“American Airlines’ announcement today is certainly bad news for their company and a setback for hundreds of Florida families. We are focused on growing our economy so every Floridian has access to a great job because we know that having the opportunity to work hard and provide for your children is the heart of the American dream.

“I asked the Department of Economic Opportunity Director Hunting Deutsch to work with the Southwest Florida Workforce Investment Board, the Beacon Council, the Miami Chamber of Commerce and the associated labor unions to immediately develop a plan to transition these highly skilled aviation workers into other jobs. We know that Florida workers want to work, and assisting them in identifying other opportunities in our state is a top priority.”

The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS)* from the US Department of Labor report that during the period February to July 2012 there have been 470 “Layoff Events” in Florida. 

According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Florida has seen a decline in the labor force. In February 2012 there were 9,297,200 in the labor force. In July that number dropped to 9,269,500. Since February 27,700 left the workforce in Florida. During the same period 26,700 jobs were added and the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 to 8.8 percent. The decline in the workforce may be reflected in the decline in unemployment and skew the number.

On January 1, 2013 Florida is expected to lose over 79,400 defense and defense related jobs due to mandated cut backs in defense spending, known as sequestration. Other jobs are expected to be lost as mandated cuts of $1.2 trillion are implemented. Defense contractors are required by law to send out layoff notifications beginning this month.

*The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program collects reports on mass layoff actions that result in workers being separated from their jobs. Monthly mass layoff numbers are from establishments which have at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a 5-week period. Extended mass layoff numbers (issued quarterly) are from a subset of such establishments—where private sector nonfarm employers indicate that 50 or more workers were separated from their jobs for at least 31 days.

The Battle Over Florida’s Amendment 8 Begins

On November 6, 2012 Floridians will be asked to vote on eleven amendments to the state constitution. Of these amendments Amendment 8 has become the flash point with groups favoring and opposing passage digging in their heels. The war on words has become a full-fledged battle for the hearts and minds of voters.

The proposed ballot question reads:

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support, except as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

The proposed measure would amend Section 3 of Article I of the Florida Constitution to read:

There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety. No individual or entity may be discriminated against or barred from receiving funding on the basis of religious identity or belief. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Two groups launched websites explaining Amendment 8: Say Yes on 8 and Vote No on 8.

Vote No on 8 states, “Amendment 8, the so-called ‘Religious Freedom’ Amendment, isn’t about Religious Freedom at all. Amendment 8 actually allows the government to give our tax dollars to any group claiming to be a religious organization.”

Say Yes on 8 states, “Amendment 8 preserves time-honored partnerships between government and social service organizations. Amendment 8 ensures continued delivery of social services by faith-based organizations, lowering government costs for taxpayers. Amendment 8 eliminates discrimination against churches and religious institutions that provide social services.”

Amendment 8, if passed, would take the Blaine Amendment out of the Florida Constitution. The Blaine Amendment refers to constitutional provisions that exist in 38 of the 50 state constitutions in the United States, which forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have any religious affiliation. The Blaine Amendment was originally aimed at Catholics, most notably the Irish, who had immigrated to the U.S. and started their own parochial schools.

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court in the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris decision partially vitiated these Blaine amendments when it ruled that vouchers were constitutional if state funds followed a child to a privately chosen school, even if it were religious. For a voucher program to be constitutional it must meet all of the following criteria: the program must have a valid secular purpose; aid must go to parents and not to the schools; a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered; the program must be neutral with respect to religion; and there must be adequate nonreligious options.

Billy Atwell in an editorial for the Diocese of Venice in Florida states, “Some support the work of faith-based institutions, but disagree with these institutions accepting government money. They fear faith-based groups would become beholden to the mighty arm of government. Shouldn’t these groups be allowed to serve those in need and do what they do well? It is one thing to say faith-based groups shouldn’t accept government dollars—it is entirely different to outlaw their eligibility for these funds. The current law also flies in the face of religious freedom. Singling out capable social service providers simply because they are faith-based is fiscally unsound and, without a doubt, discrimination.”

While the arguments used by each group focus on religious freedom the real issue is control of taxpayer dollars for K-12 education.

For many it boils down to money, particularly money for K-12 schooling flowing into charter or private faith-based schools. Proponents argue that parents should decide where their child goes to school and the money allocated by the state should follow the child. That is not the case in Florida. Public education fits the definition of a monopoly. This amendment would free parents from being forced into a particular public school. School choice would be empowered if Amendment 8 passes by giving the funding for the child directly to the parent.

Florida Representative Stephen Precourt, a spokesman for the Say Yes on 8 campaigns, stated, “They shouldn’t be telling a group that just because you’re faith-based organization you shouldn’t be participating in the market! Education is a marketplace.”

The ballot question boils down to: Should public funding for education follow the child?

RELATED COLUMN: North Carolina Voters Say Public Education Underperforming, On Wrong Track

RELATED VIDEO:

Danger: Energy Economic Zone Ahead

Government is famous for wasting time and money all at the expense of taxpayers. The greatest waste has been attributed to the “green movement” and its efforts to save the planet by controlling human activities, such as emissions of CO2. This political and uniquely unscientific movement has led the Florida legislature to create comprehensive planning legislation, implement caps on carbon emissions and most recently create an Energy Economic Zone (EEZ) pilot project.

Sarasota County has established by ordinance an Energy Economic Zone. The first public hearings on the EEZ pilot project in Sarasota County are being held in September. Citizens and business will learn what the EEZ is all about. But what is end purpose of an EEZ? What will be accomplished by establishing an EEZ in Sarasota County?

My answer: The greatest expansion of local government power over your and my pursuit of happiness.

Here are ten reasons why I believe the Sarasota County EEZ will fail:

1. Any governmental expansion of power always meets with stiff public resistance and the EEZ is meeting stiff resistance. The EEZ has been denounced with bi-partisan support in Sarasota County. Neighborhood associations, anti-growth proponents and Democrats are standing shoulder to shoulder with TEA Party groups, 912 Project members and the Republican Party of Sarasota Executive Committee to denounce this project and its attempt to control the lives of citizens.

2. Economic zones do not work. County Commissioner Nora Patterson in an e-mail to an opponent of the EEZ states, “Our existing enterprise zone [in Newtown] is truly a depressed area and I can tell you in advance that the overall situation has not improved, in fact quite the opposite given the economic downturn.” So Commissioners know that enterprise zones do not work from the Newtown failure. Why throw good money after bad? Because it feels good to do so. The EEZ is being driven by ideology, not by any proven method to create jobs or expand the economy in Florida.

3. One of the purposes of the EEZ is to create energy efficiencies and thereby reduce energy usage. This is a FALSE premise as greater efficiency leads inextricably to greater energy usage. This phenomenon is called the “rebound effect”. Increasing the efficiency of lighting encourages us to illuminate more. This means that we need more energy, not less to meet future demand, expected to increase by 30% over the next decade. The EEZ concept is a fallacy, even if the five sitting County Commissioners believe in this fallacy, it is still a fallacy.

4. The incentives provided in the ordinance as currently written are not defined. This makes the ordinance open to broad interpretation by staff in its implementation. We have experienced what happens when bureaucrats are given the leeway to implement policy in Florida. This has happened with numeric water standards being imposed on the state by the Environmental Protection Agency. Placing Draconian standards on water quality to save us from ourselves. Standards that cannot be met!

5. The incentives are front loaded without regard to clearly defined end results. Under the current proposed ordinance businesses would be awarded incentive grants in addition to tax abatements for job creation. The business would promise to create new “green jobs”. This is a failed model, see reason #2 above. You and I do not pay a business until the job is done. In this case County government is so trusting that they will pay upfront for a promise of future job creation. The County has tried this recently with Sanborn studios. Sanborn Studios closed its Lakewood Ranch facility in December 2011 after just one year in operation. The company that promised to produce Hollywood movies, TV shows and create more than 100 jobs in Sarasota got a $650,000 grant from Sarasota County. It is good to learn from experience right?

6. The EEZ is “crony capitalism” writ large. Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth. The proposed ordinance establishing an EEZ is the ultimate example of crony capitalism. Government picks the winners and losers, not the free markets. This always leads to corruption and political favoritism.

7. Government does not create jobs! The great myth is that government can via incentives create something from nothing. Jobs are created only when a business cannot meet the market demand for its products or services. That is an economic fact. What can government do to help create a market for a product or service? Nothing, absolutely nothing. What government can do best is to do the least. That is to say government is best that governs least. Protecting property rights is the role of government.

8. All of the County Commissioners are Republicans dedicated to limited government and the U.S. Constitution. The Republican Party of Sarasota Executive Committee passed a resolution condemning “local ‘sustainable development’ policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, and other ‘Green’ or ‘Alternative’ projects.” The EEZ falls squarely into all of these categories! A copy of the full resolution was presented to each Commissioner.

9. The County’s attempt to establish an EEZ has led to at least one law suit. According to Kathy Attunes, “The EEZ and attached Enterprise Zone incentives are separate statutes. It can be argued that the Enterprise Zone statutes exist independently of the EEZ statute (377.809), and these state Enterprise Zone statutes apply independent of any local eligibility requirements and a $300,000 cap. The EEZ green standards and $300,000 cap are not outlined in the Enterprise Zone statutes; the statutes do not mirror each other. We are concerned that the EEZ statute and linked Enterprise Zone incentives are in conflict, which potentially sets the County up for litigation brought by businesses who have met Enterprise Zone criteria but not County EEZ standards. We do not want the BCC to proceed with a program that opens the door to a flood of untargeted Enterprise Zone tax breaks, and the possibility of having local control negated by state statute.” I agree more litigation will follow.

10. Finally, this is just bad public policy and a waste of taxpayer money.

There are many other reasons why the EEZ is bad policy for Sarasota County but in the interest of brevity I have listed only my top ten.

I do not need nor want government telling me how to save energy. I am perfectly able doing that on my own. If I wish to waste energy then I will pay an economic price for that behavior. That is how personal freedom and free markets work. Government forcing choices upon me is morally wrong. The EEZ is morally wrong!

Do We Really Want a Strong Commissioner of Education?

Jeffrey S. Solochek, staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, reports, “Florida’s next education commissioner needs to have room to do the job without political interference, state Board of Education members said Friday as they set requirements for the vacancy.”

But do the Commissioners really want to stop political interference?

The Florida Board of Education (BOE) is itself political. Outgoing Chairwoman Kathleen M. Shanahan has held federal and state public policy positions of chief of staff for Florida Governor Jeb Bush, chief of staff to Vice President-elect Dick Cheney, deputy secretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency, special assistant to then Vice President George Bush, and staff assistant on President Reagan’s National Security Council.

Vice Chairman Roberto Martinez, a lawyer, served as Chairman of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission; Special Counsel to Attorney General Charlie Crist; and as Chairman of the District Board of Trustees of Miami Dade College; Chair of Attorney-Elect Charlie Crist’s transition; General Counsel to Governor Jeb Bush during the gubernatorial transition.

Solochek quotes Martinez as saying, “The person has to be able to deal with the political process. But I think all of us … need to understand we need to give that person a lot of autonomy so they can function professionally with minimal interference from the political folks.”

On September 7, 2012 the State Board of Education moved forward with the search for the next Commissioner of Education approving the candidate profile developed by Ray and Associates. The search firm is conducting a nationwide search for Florida’s chief education officer who will be responsible for all aspects of the state’s Pre-K-20 education system. The deadline for applications is Sept. 27, 2012.

The Florida Legislature and Board of Education have come under fire from citizens with two actions that have disenfranchised students, parents and citizens.

The first action was removing citizen participation in the selection of text books used in Florida’s public schools. More recently the BOE unanimously voted to lower school passing scores after 2011 FCAT scores plummeted. This lowering of school passing scores occurred after political pressure from teachers unions, the superintendents association and school boards across Florida.

The Florida based Textbook Action Team (TAT) in May, 2011 became outraged with a provision in SB 2120 lines 118-120, which was passed by the Republican led legislature. The provision cuts out lay people from the State Instructional Materials Committee.

“Today all of Florida’s public school textbooks will be selected by bureaucrats, not citizens and parents” notes Sheri Krass, State Chairperson for TAT. Krass stated in a letter to Governor Scott, “Now, in a boldfaced attempt to avoid having to seat some of these individuals on the Committee, your State Legislature has passed SB 2120 which employs ‘three state or national experts in the content areas submitted for adoption’ to review the instructional materials and evaluate the content for alignment with the applicable Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. This move allows them to continue to deprive our students of the quality education they deserve.”

The second action was lowing the passing scores of public schools statewide.Cara Fitzpatrick, Shelly Rossetter and Jefferry S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times in their article “After FCAT scores plunge, state quickly lowers the passing grade” reported, “After conceding that poor communication with teachers could have contributed to the unprecedented plunge in Florida students’ writing scores this year, the state Board of Education voted Tuesday to lower the passing mark for the test.”

Teachers and administrators have known about the new testing standards for over a year. Teachers and school administrations actually write the Sunshine State Standards, the test questions and administer the tests. Many parents and citizens do not accept the premise that there was a communication gap. The new standards require that a student use proper sentence structure, punctuation and spelling. Each of these are fundamental to learning how to write.

All members of the Florida Board of Education are political appointees. How can politics be taken out of the classroom and replaced by empowered parents, students and citizens?

How do you take politics out of education? Perhaps this video from the Reason Foundation titled “The Machine” will help explain:

The Clint Eastwood Effect on Florida

According to a SurveyUSA poll of the state of Florida conducted for WFLA-TV in Tampa, two-thirds of those who watched Thursday night’s speeches at the Republican National Convention already had decided who they would vote for before anyone opened their mouth, but among the small but important group of persuadable speech watchers, there is 2:1 movement towards Romney.

VIDEO: Clint Eastwood “Empty Chair Parody” at the RNC

1,211 adults were interviewed statewide on August 31, 201212, after Romney, Florida’s Marco Rubio and Clint Eastwood spoke to the convention on Thursday, August 30th. Of the adults, 1,100 were registered to vote in Florida. Of the registered voters, 754 heard the convention speeches. Of the convention speech watchers:

* 66% did not change their mind.
* 16% switched from “undecided” to Romney.
* 6% switched from Obama to Romney.
* Adding those 2 together, that’s 22% who switched TO Romney.
* 10% switched from “undecided” to Obama.
* 2% switched from Romney to Obama.
* Adding those 2 together, that’s 12% who switched TO Obama.
* Comparing the 2 aggregate numbers: 22% switched TO Romney, 12% switched TO Obama.

Caution: As expected, those who watched the speeches at the Republican National Convention were disproportionately Republican. This poll does not attempt to measure how all likely voters in the state of Florida would vote if filling out a ballot today. It attempts to measure early movement among speech-watchers only.

Reaction to individual speeches broke along party lines:

* 79% of Republicans, compared to 35% of Democrats, said Romney’s speech helped his chances to be elected.
* 12% of Republicans, compared to 45% of Democrats, said Eastwood’s speech hurt Romney’s changes to be elected.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Hill Poll: Voters say second term undeserved, country is worse off

New York Times Proves Clint Eastwood Correct — Obama Is Lousy CEO

CFO Jeff Atwater Endorses Five for Florida Plan

Americans for Properity – Florida (AFP-FL) announces that Florida CFO Jeff Atwater endorsed Five for Florida plan.

“I am pleased to announce my endorsement of Five for Florida. The most important issue facing the State of Florida currently is creating and maintaining jobs, and the Five for Florida plan will create a better economic environment and spur job creation,” said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

He continued, “Candidates, regardless of party, should be supporting this plan because it speaks to government accountability, transparency and job creation. I am confident that if the policies outlined in Five for Florida are implemented by the Legislature, we will save the taxpayers money while encouraging economic development in our state.”

CFO Atwater joins 90 other Florida elected officials and candidates in endorsing Five for Florida and showing their commitment to a better Florida. Citizens all around the state have been endorsing the plan as well, supporting government transparency, financial accountability, the end of cronyism, increased school choice, and the elimination of barriers to entry for entrepreneurs.

A recent poll shows Florida voters across party lines support the reforms in Five for Florida. A recent poll of “likely” voters showed that there is broad-based support for the reforms in the Five for Florida plan amongst Floridians.

SEE SUMMARY OF THE POLL HERE

The poll shows a majority of Floridians, regardless of party affiliation or cultural background, think that Florida’s government can do better and that the reforms proposed in our Five for Florida plan have broad based public support and should be enacted in the next legislative session.

“Candidate’s who ignore these survey results are doing so at their own peril,” said Slade O’Brien, Execitive Director of Americans for Prosperity in Florida. “They have a choice, they can continue to serve the special interests and those that feed at the public trough or they can side with a public that clearly wants more economic opportunity, transparency, accountability and educational choice,” O’Brien noted.

Sixty-Five Percent of Floridians Purchased “Red” Books

Amazon.com released a “Heat Map” showing purchases of political books by state. The map breaks down all purchases into “blue” or “red” book categories. According to the map nation wide 44% of purchases are “Blue” Books and 56% of purchases are “Red” Books. In Florida 65% purchased red books.

Minnesota and Maryland came in even with 50% blue and 50% red. Mississippi has the distinction of having the highest number of red book buyers at 73%. Only four states and the District of Columbia have a majority of blue book buyers. These blue book buyer states are: New York (54%), Massachusetts (58%), Rhode Island (52%)  and Vermont (61%). The District of Columbia has the highest number of blue book buyers at 68%. California may be in the political tossup column with 51% buying red books.

Amazon.com website did this because, “[G]iven the high interest we’ve seen in political books during election years, we thought our customers would like to see what general book buying patterns emerge across the country, and how they change over time.”

According to their website here is how Amazon.com created the Heat Map:

Amazon customers, as we know, read widely and often buy books that don’t necessarily fit their own views. Books aren’t votes, and a map of book purchases can reflect curiosity as much as commitment, but we hope our 2012 Election Heat Map will provide one way to follow the changing political conversation across the country during this election season.

How do we calculate the red and blue percentages on our Heat Map?

Our 2012 Election Heat Map colors each state according to the percentage of red and blue book purchases, based on shipping address, that have been made on Amazon.com during the past 30 days. We take the top-selling political books on Amazon.com and categorize them as “red,” “blue,” or neutral. We classify books as red or blue if they have a political leaning made evident in book promotion material and/or customer classification, such as tags. We compute percentages, updated daily, for each state and the US by comparing the 250 best-selling blue books during the time period against the 250 best-selling red books during the same time period, including new book launches. If the same book title has multiple formats (paperback, Kindle books and Audible Audio), each format has a separate sales calculation. The list only includes paid, not free Kindle books. All orders during the period are given equal weighting in the calculation. States with higher percentages of red or blue purchases are colored more darkly, and states with an even 50-50 split are colored neutral.

What is the definition of a “red state” and a “blue state” in the US?

In recent years, thanks to the color-coded maps the networks use on election night, “red state” has come to represent a state favoring the Republican Party, while “blue state” represents one that favors the Democratic Party. We know that states are not all red or all blue, and readers aren’t either. And books are often too complex to fit into such neat categories. But given the high interest we’ve seen in political books during election years, we thought our customers would like to see what general book buying patterns emerge across the country, and how they change over time.

Will the Amazon Heat Map be factored in by pundits and Real Clear Politics? We shall see.

BRICKS, PIPES AND ANARCHIST GRAFFITI FOUND NEAR RNC CONVENTION CENTER

Tampa Bay Online is reporting that graffiti (pictured right) was found on a downtown rooftop at Florida Avenue and Tyler Street, along with bricks and pipes. The building is just one mile from the Tampa Bay Forum where the Republican National Convention is being held. The potential weapons were accidentally found by local chiropractor Joseph Papilla. His offices are in the building where the potential weapons were found. “It was quite disturbing,” Papilla said.

A National Terror Alert was issued stating, “Federal authorities are urging law enforcement agencies across the country to watch out for signs that extremists might be planning to wreak havoc at the upcoming political conventions — by blocking roads, shutting down transit systems and even employing what were described as acid-filled eggs.”

Tampa Bay Online notes, “The graffiti included the numeral ’99’ and an image of a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, similar to those worn by Occupy protesters last year. Fawkes was an Englishman who tried to bomb Parliament in the early 1600s. The masks became symbols for the Occupy protesters after the film ‘V for Vendetta,’ in which an anarchist models himself as a modern Fawkes and rebels against a fascist government.” An attempt to bomb the Republican National Convention was foiled in 2008.

The Occupy The RNC official website states, “Security will be concentrated in the Green Zone which will establish a legalized police state up to a 5 mile radius around downtown Tampa. This leaves the rest of the city and Bay area open and available for decentralized actions. People that require the law enforcement to be everywhere, ensure law enforcement cannot be effective anywhere.” [My emphasis]

Bricks, pipes or acid filled eggs thrown from roof tops could be aimed at either law enforcement providing protection for convention attendees or the attendees and the press. Tampa Chief of Police Jane Castor notes, “Finding those items for us was not a surprise. This is historically how these things proceed before a large political event such as the RNC.” Not very comforting to attendees.

The recent case of vandalism in nearby Sarasota, Florida has locals nervous and on edge. The placement of potential weapons before the security cordon is enforced could be a sign of future violence against police and convention attendees. It is difficult to determine how many caches of potential weapons have been placed already by the anarchists on surrounding roof tops, in alleys and even within local buildings. This discovery bodes ill for a peaceful time next week during the Republican National Convention and at the Democrat National Convention in September.

The Occupy The RNC official website Action page has warlike phrases and quotes from Sun Tsu’s the Art of War. This quote appears:  ”Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.” -Sun Tzu, Art of War.

The Occupy The RNC official logo (below) is dark and foreboding with a raised fist coming out of a  dead GOP elephant with red letters announcing a “counter RNC protests”. It reminds one of the “Dark Knight” movie that ended in tragedy. Among the organizations endorsing Occupy the RNC include groups that have caused violence and death both in the United States and overseas such as: CODEPINK, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and Occupy Wall Street.

Tampa gird your loins for history tells us that vandalism always precedes violence.

RELATED COLUMN:

Feds warn anarchists could blockade roads, use acid-filled eggs to protest conventions

Florida Group Reaches Out to Evangelicals

The United West (TUW), a group of academic activists, is now reaching out to Evangelicals in Florida. The outreach is focused on educating Evangelicals on national security issues, Israel and threats against freedom of religion. Tom Trento, President of TUW states, “We will ask Evangelicals to register and vote in the primaries on August 14 and general election on November 6, 2012. We do not tell them how to vote but encourage them to vote.”

Tom Trento notes, “In the 2008 Presidential election one million Florida Evangelicals either did not register or did not vote. This is a travesty and must be addressed. We are addressing this issue in the swing state of Florida.

NewsMax reports, “Some 17 million Evangelicals failed to vote in 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama beat the GOP’s John McCain — and now the fight is on to get them there this November,” Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed says.

November’s election is critical, Reed said, because President Barack Obama is “somebody who’s called for more government, more spending, more bureaucracy. He seems to think the answer to everything that ails America is more government and bigger government.” Reed also said he believes the Obama administration is engaged in an attack on religious freedom.

According to The United West, Florida accounts for nearly 6% of the national Evangelical vote and they are concentrated in a key state. President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have visited Florida numerous times, underlining the importance of the state in November. It was the Florida primary that helped propel Governor Romney to become the presumptive Republican nominee. Governor Romney spent over $15 million to win the Florida Republican presidential primary. Over 8.1 million Floridians voted on the 2008 Presidential ballot; had the aforementioned one million evangelicals voted they would have made up 12.5% of the electorate.

Trento states, “President Obama won Florida in 2008 by 204,577 votes. He took key areas, such as Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties by a plus 47,000 votes. It is important to insure the faith based community is well informed, registers and votes. That is what we do as academic activists – inform the public on important issues. If Evangelicals register and vote it can make a huge difference in who takes Florida in November.”

Faith-based issues are becoming a more important part of the national dialogue, including President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports gay marriage. Florida Proposition 2–“The Marriage Amendment“–was passed in 2008 by a margin of 61% to 39% and is now in the state Constitution. As more information is revealed about the Affordable Health Law and its impact on businesses, organizations and churches providing health services more are becoming engaged. Evangelicals are now paying attention.

According to NewsMax, “Conservative Christians and Evangelical conservatives will play a big role in the upcoming election,” Reed said, “and they support Romney by about 60 percent, compared to previous support for John McCain (73 percent) and George W. Bush (78 percent) … the Evangelical vote, which has historically been between 20 and 23 percent of the electorate, turns out in the largest numbers ever seen in a presidential election.”

With long lines at Chick-Fil-A last week will Florida see long lines at the polls in November? Only time will tell what the faith based value voters will do in Florida.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Rasmussen: 87% Oppose Letting Government Officials Play Politics In the Marketplace

Rasmussen: 61% Hold Favorable Opinion of Chick-fil-A

Drug Cartels Invade Florida: Narco-Terrorists to Follow

“The Mexican drug trade has left more than 50,000 bodies in its wake since 2006, and the cartels appear to be looking to expand their networks. With this in mind, the National Post’s graphics team takes a look at the flow of drugs across the continent,” Jonathon Rivait and Richard Johnson from the National Post report. Their analysis shows at least 1,000 U.S. cities reported the presence of at least one of four Mexican cartels in 2010. Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville and Orlando are among those cities. Tampa, Miami and Orlando reported the presence of multiple drug cartels with six reports of the Gulf Cartel or C.D.G. in Florida.

According to a February 2012 NARCONON NEWS article, “The discoveries of large drug shipments on submarines and fast boats in the Caribbean support the conclusion that South and Central American drug cartels are once again pointing their drug trafficking efforts at Florida.”

“Recent events have spurred concerns that Florida may once again become the target of Central or South American drug trafficking groups. Heightened drug trafficking activity in the Caribbean Sea and in the Dominican Republic point at the possibility that drug cartels are reclaiming their old trafficking channels and bringing their customary violence with them,” notes NARCONON NEWS.

Early this year NBC News Channel 7, in an article titled “Mexican Drug Cartel Busted in the Panhandle”, reported, “Federal and local authorities say the group, called the Gulf Cartel was responsible for bringing millions of dollars worth of marijuana into Florida. The co-ordinated raids began Monday night in Orlando and Washington County. Federal and local officers arrested more than 30 people total, and seized a staggering amount of evidence.”

Hezbollah terrorists working with Mexican drug cartels is the subject of this research paper written in 2014.

The map below was produced by the National Post and shows the infiltration routes and locations of drug cartels across the United States and Mexico:

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE MAP

Romney Applauded 27 Times at NAACP Convention

Major media wires are reporting that Mitt Romney was booed once during his speech at the NAACP Convention. This is a classic case of “man bites dog” reporting. What the news wires did not report is that during his twenty-five minute speech Governor Romney was how many times he was actually applauded. Reverend Wayne Perryman in an email notes, “The media did it again. They focused on the fact that Romney got booed at the NAACP Convention, but they didn’t say how many times they applauded him. I charted the speech and each time they applauded him during his speech. They Applauded Total of 27 times in 25 Minutes.” Following time sequence prepared by Reverend Perryman:

1:56 He would represent every race

2:58 He will help the middle class

3:58 He complimented the NAACP

6:39 You are entitled to an answer

7:27 A quote from Frederick Douglass

8:27 Blacks have waited long enough

9:53 He support strong families & traditional marriages

11:15 He will help the middle class

11:58 Bring Jobs back to the United States

12:24 He will clamp down on cheaters like China who steal our jobs

12:52 He will stop spending

13:02-13:18 He was booed regarding overturning Obama Care

14:22 He would protect social Security and Medicare with higher benefits for those with lower income and lower for higher income

14:51 He reference to minimum wage jobs and the need for skilled workers

15:52 Wages will rise again

16:28 His goal as President it to create jobs for American people

16:39 If you want a president to make things better for the African American Community, you’re looking at him

18:12 The 4 year Scholarships program that he created while governor

19:58 He joined with the Black Legislative Caucus in Mass to promote Charter Schools

20:36 He won’t let special interest groups stand in the way of education reform

21:03 Money for education will be linked to the student for true choice

21:49 The hospitality that they (NAACP) will be returned and he will seek their counsel

22:12 If they invite him back next year as President he will say “Yes”

22:57 He talks about his father as a man that he admired for equality and justice

23:14 His father was a man of faith that knew that everyone was God’s children

24:01 He said God’s Mercy endureth forever

24:55 NAACP and their past victories and their victories in the future

25:15 Ended his speech

The full text of Mitt Romney’s speech follows:

Thank you, Bishop Graves, for your generous introduction. Thanks also to President Ben Jealous and Chairman Roslyn Brock for the opportunity to be here this morning, and for your hospitality. It is an honor to address you.

I appreciate the chance to speak first – even before Vice President Biden gets his turn tomorrow. I just hope the Obama campaign won’t think you’re playing favorites.

You all know something of my background, and maybe you’ve wondered how any Republican ever becomes governor of Massachusetts in the first place. Well, in a state with 11 percent Republican registration, you don’t get there by just talking to Republicans. We have to make our case to every voter. We don’t count anybody out, and we sure don’t make a habit of presuming anyone’s support. Support is asked for and earned – and that’s why I’m here today.

With 90 percent of African-Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African American community, and to address the NAACP. Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.

But there is another reason: I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president. I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president.

The opposition charges that I and people in my party are running for office to help the rich. Nonsense. The rich will do just fine whether I am elected or not. The President wants to make this a campaign about blaming the rich. I want to make this a campaign about helping the middle class.

I am running for president because I know that my policies and vision will help hundreds of millions of middle class Americans of all races, will lift people from poverty, and will help prevent people from becoming poor. My campaign is about helping the people who need help. The course the President has set has not done that – and will not do that. My course will.

When President Obama called to congratulate me on becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, he said that he, “looked forward to an important and healthy debate about America’s future.” To date, I’m afraid that his campaign has taken a different course than that.

But, in campaigns at their best, voters can expect a clear choice, and candidates can expect a fair hearing – only more so from a venerable organization like this one. So, it is that healthy debate about the course of the nation that I want to discuss with you today.

If someone had told us in the 1950s or 1960s that a black citizen would serve as the forty-fourth president, we would have been proud and many would have been surprised. Picturing that day, we might have assumed that the American presidency would be the very last door of opportunity to be opened. Before that came to pass, every other barrier on the path to equal opportunity would surely have come down.

Of course, it hasn’t happened quite that way. Many barriers remain. Old inequities persist. In some ways, the challenges are even more complicated than before. And across America — and even within your own ranks — there are serious, honest debates about the way forward.

If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way. The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, and median family wealth are all worse for the black community. In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent.
Americans of every background are asking when this economy will finally recover – and you, in particular, are entitled to an answer.

If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, black families could send their sons and daughters to public schools that truly offer the hope of a better life. Instead, for generations, the African-American community has been waiting and waiting for that promise to be kept. Today, black children are 17 percent of students nationwide – but they are 42 percent of the students in our worst-performing schools.

Our society sends them into mediocre schools and expects them to perform with excellence, and that is not fair. Frederick Douglass observed that, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Yet, instead of preparing these children for life, too many schools set them up for failure. Everyone in this room knows that we owe them better than that.

The path of inequality often leads to lost opportunity. College, graduate school, and first jobs should be milestones marking the passage from childhood to adulthood. But for too many disadvantaged young people, these goals seem unattainable – and their lives take a tragic turn.

Many live in neighborhoods filled with violence and fear, and empty of opportunity. Their impatience for real change is understandable. They are entitled to feel that life in America should be better than this. They are told even now to wait for improvements in our economy and in our schools, but it seems to me that these Americans have waited long enough.

The point is that when decades of the same promises keep producing the same failures, then it’s reasonable to rethink our approach – and consider a new plan.

I’m hopeful that together we can set a new direction in federal policy, starting where many of our problems do – with the family. A study from the Brookings Institution has shown that for those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and wait until 21 before they marry and then have their first child, the probability of being poor is two percent. And if those factors are absent, the probability of being poor is 76 percent.

Here at the NAACP, you understand the deep and lasting difference the family makes. Your former executive director, Dr. Benjamin Hooks, had it exactly right. The family, he said, “remains the bulwark and the mainstay of the black community. That great truth must not be overlooked.”

Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country, and that must be our goal. As President, I will promote strong families – and I will defend traditional marriage.

As you may have heard from my opponent, I am also a believer in the free-enterprise system. I believe it can bring change where so many well-meaning government programs have failed. I’ve never heard anyone look around an impoverished neighborhood and say, “You know, there’s too much free enterprise around here. Too many shops, too many jobs, too many people putting money in the bank.”

What you hear, of course, is how do we bring in jobs? How do we make good, honest employers want to move in and stay? And with the shape this economy is in, we’re asking that more than ever.

Free enterprise is still the greatest force for upward mobility, economic security, and the expansion of the middle class. We have seen in recent years what it’s like to have less free enterprise. As President, I will show the good things that can happen when we have more – more business activity, more jobs, more opportunity, more paychecks, more savings accounts.

On Day One, I will begin turning this economy around with a plan for the middle class. And I don’t mean just those who are middle class now – I also mean those who have waited so long for their chance to join the middle class.

I know what it will take to put people back to work, to bring more jobs and better wages. My jobs plan is based on 25 years of success in business. It has five key steps.

First, I will take full advantage of our energy resources, and I will approve the Keystone pipeline from Canada. Low cost, plentiful coal, natural gas, oil, and renewables will bring over a million manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Second, I will open up new markets for American products. We are the most productive major economy in the world, so trade means good jobs for Americans. But trade must be free and fair, so I’ll clamp down on cheaters like China and make sure that they finally play by the rules.

Third, I will reduce government spending. Our high level of debt slows GDP growth and that means fewer jobs. If our goal is jobs, we must, must stop spending over a trillion dollars more than we earn. To do this, I will eliminate expensive non-essential programs like Obamacare, and I will work to reform and save Medicare and Social Security, in part by means-testing their benefits.

Fourth, I will focus on nurturing and developing the skilled workers our economy so desperately needs and the future demands. This is the human capital with which tomorrow’s bright future will be built. Too many homes and too many schools are failing to provide our children with the skills and education that are essential for anything other than a minimum-wage job.

And finally and perhaps most importantly, I will restore economic freedom. This nation’s economy runs on freedom, on opportunity, on entrepreneurs, on dreamers who innovate and build businesses. These entrepreneurs are being crushed by high taxation, burdensome regulation, hostile regulators, excessive healthcare costs, and destructive labor policies. I will work to make America the best place in the world for innovators and entrepreneurs and businesses small and large.

Do these five things – open up energy, expand trade, cut the growth of government, focus on better educating tomorrow’s workers today, and restore economic freedom – and jobs will come back to America, and wages will rise again. The President will say he will do those things, but he will not, he cannot, and his record of the last four years proves it.

If I am president, job one for me will be creating jobs. I have no hidden agenda. If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him.

Finally, I will address the institutionalized inequality in our education system. And I know something about this from my time as governor.

In the years before I took office our state’s leaders had come together to pass bipartisan measures that were making a difference. In reading and in math, our students were already among the best in the nation – and during my term, they took over the top spot.

Those results revealed what good teachers can do if the system will only let them. The problem was, this success wasn’t shared. A significant achievement gap between students of different races remained. So we set out to close it.

I urged faster interventions in failing schools, and the funding to go along with it. I promoted math and science excellence in schools, and proposed paying bonuses to our best teachers.

I refused to weaken testing standards, and instead raised them. To graduate from high school, students had to pass an exam in math and English – I added a science requirement as well. And I put in place a merit scholarship for those students who excelled: the top 25 percent of students in each high school were awarded a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship – which meant four years tuition-free at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.

When I was governor, not only did test scores improve – we also narrowed the achievement gap.

The teachers unions were not happy with a number of these reforms. They especially did not like our emphasis on choice through charter schools, particularly for our inner city kids. Accordingly, the legislature passed a moratorium on any new charter schools.

As you know, in Boston, in Harlem, in Los Angeles, and all across the country, charter schools are giving children a chance, children that otherwise could be locked in failing schools. I was inspired just a few weeks ago by the students in one of Kenny Gamble’s charter schools in Philadelphia. Right here in Houston is another success story: the Knowledge Is Power Program, which has set the standard, thanks to the groundbreaking work of the late Harriet Ball.

These charter schools are doing a lot more than closing the achievement gap. They are bringing hope and opportunity to places where for years there has been none.

Charter schools are so successful that almost every politician can find something good to say about them. But, as we saw in Massachusetts, true reform requires more than talk. As Governor, I vetoed the bill blocking charter schools. But our legislature was 87 percent Democrat, and my veto could have been easily over-ridden. So I joined with the Black Legislative Caucus, and their votes helped preserve my veto, which meant that new charter schools, including some in urban neighborhoods, would be opened.

When it comes to education reform, candidates cannot have it both ways – talking up education reform, while indulging the same groups that are blocking reform. You can be the voice of disadvantaged public-school students, or you can be the protector of special interests like the teachers unions, but you can’t be both. I have made my choice: As president, I will be a champion of real education reform in America, and I won’t let any special interest get in the way.

I will give the parents of every low-income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school. For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to a student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school, or to a private school, where permitted. And I will make that a true choice by ensuring there are good options available to all.

Should I be elected President, I’ll lead as I did when I was governor. I am pleased today to be joined today by Reverend Jeffrey Brown, who was a member of my kitchen cabinet in Massachusetts that helped guide my policy and actions that affected the African American community. I will look for support wherever there is good will and shared conviction. I will work with you to help our children attend better schools and help our economy create good jobs with better wages.

I can’t promise that you and I will agree on every issue. But I do promise that your hospitality to me today will be returned. We will know one another, and work to common purposes. I will seek your counsel. And if I am elected president, and you invite me to next year’s convention, I would count it as a privilege, and my answer will be yes.

The Republican Party’s record, by the measures you rightly apply, is not perfect. Any party that claims a perfect record doesn’t know history the way you know it.

Yet always, in both parties, there have been men and women of integrity, decency, and humility who called injustice by its name. For every one of us a particular person comes to mind, someone who set a standard of conduct and made us better by their example. For me, that man is my father, George Romney.

It wasn’t just that my Dad helped write the civil rights provision for the Michigan Constitution, though he did. It wasn’t just that he helped create Michigan’s first civil rights commission, or that as governor he marched for civil rights in Detroit – though he did those things, too.

More than these public acts, it was the kind of man he was, and the way he dealt with every person, black or white. He was a man of the fairest instincts, and a man of faith who knew that every person was a child of God.

I’m grateful to him for so many things, and above all for the knowledge of God, whose ways are not always our ways, but whose justice is certain and whose mercy endures forever.

Every good cause on this earth relies in the end on a plan bigger than ours. “Without dependence on God,” as Dr. King said, “our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest night. Unless his spirit pervades our lives, we find only what G. K. Chesterton called ‘cures that don’t cure, blessings that don’t bless, and solutions that don’t solve.’”

Of all that you bring to the work of today’s civil rights cause, no advantage counts for more than this abiding confidence in the name above every name. Against cruelty, arrogance, and all the foolishness of man, this spirit has carried the NAACP to many victories. More still are up ahead, and with each one we will be a better nation.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

FL Primary Voting Registration Ends July 16, 2012

With a primary election approaching, here is voter information from the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office:

In order to register to vote in Florida, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States of America
  • Be a Florida resident
  • Be 18 years old (A person who is otherwise qualified may preregister on or after his/her 16th birthday and may vote in any election on or after his/her 18th birthday.)
  • Not now be adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state
  • Not have been convicted of a felony without your right to vote having been restored
  • Provide your current and valid Florida driver license number or Florida identification card number. You must provide the last four of your Social Security number if you do not have a Florida driver license number or a Florida identification card number. If you have not been issued any of these items, you must write “NONE” in the box indicated on the Voter Registration Application.

How to Apply to Register to Vote

  • Fill in the Voter Registration Application online. If you wish, you can print the application and write your information in with a black ballpoint pen.
  • For the Voter Registration Online Application in Spanish select this link.
  • Print the application out.
  • Verify that all the information on your application is complete. The office where you register, your decision not to register, your Social Security number, Florida driver license number and Florida ID card number will remain confidential and will be used only for voter registration purposes.
  • Sign your application. The application requires an original signature because you are swearing to or affirming an oath.
  • Mail your application to your county supervisor of elections. (Requires first class postage stamp.) You may also hand-deliver the application to any supervisor of elections office in the state, a driver license office, a voter registration agency or armed forces recruitment office, or to the Division of Elections.
  • If your application is complete and you qualify as a voter, the supervisor of elections will mail you a voter information letter as official notification that you are registered to vote. Make sure all of the information in your letter is correct. If you do not receive a confirmation letter within 8 weeks, or if you have any questions, call your supervisor of elections.

NOTE: You must be registered for at least 29 days before you can vote in an election.

If the information on the application is not true, the applicant can be convicted of a felony of the third degree and fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 5 years.