THE FLORIDA PATRIOT May 1st 2013
Pension reform was a tale of two very different bills in the Florida House and the Florida Senate in the beginning of this 2013 legislative session with both bills being miles apart. Speaker Will Weatherford (whose father in law sits on the boards of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the James Madison Institute both pushing him to pass pension reform) tried to close the Florida Retirement System to new Police Officers, Firefighters, Teachers and other employees. The Florida Senate was having none of the last minute shenanigans that Senator Wilton Simpson (coincidentally Weatherford’s Boss, he consults for Simpson to the tune of 30k a year for one of his companies) tried to pull by amending SB 1392 with a strike all amendment that made it identical to HB 7011. Republican Senator Jack Latvala who warned Senator Simpson earlier in the session on SB 1392 if he tried to match the House Bill he would kill SB 1392 then. During the Florida Senate session Senator Jack Latvala made good on his promise and asked the first question “Is this the house bill”, except for a date change and adding “opportunity” yes Simpson replied.
Democrat Senator Clemons was next in with questions asking why would we want to close the pension plan isn’t it one of the best in the United States, Simpson replied it is #7 if he remembers correctly (it is actually 3rd best in the United States). Senator Nancy Detert was the next Republican who was not too pleased asking “I am familiar with the Senate plan, I am not familiar with the House plan, under the Senate plan we did not close the pension can you tell me the differences”? She then followed up by asking “How do we get that good Senate plan back, is this our only choice” which led the flustered Senator Simpson know he was looking at a rocky road for his last minute switcheroo amendment. Senator Jeremy Ring asked “1st responders are the ones spending 15/20/25 years taking risks talk about why this would be of value”, Senator Simpson flatly stated there was no value to them except being in control of their own money. Senator Margolis pointed out that 401ks have lost a bunch of money and have nothing to show for it, we are not making the decisions on where that money goes, they make the decisions for the entire State of Florida. Senator Dean asked if the contribution to the investment plan had gone down to which Senator Simpson replied “I wasn’t here I do not know”. It became clearly evident that poor Senator Wilton Simpson was going to look like Boxer Jerry Spinks taking on Mike Tyson in the late 1980’s during this Florida Senate battle.
Senator Negron tried to come to Senator Simpson’s rescue by asking “When few people start a job in their 20’s and end in their 60’s can you outline the advantages for this”? Senator Simpson replied to Senator Negron’s question with “If I start as a teacher for 8 years, then a construction worker for 8 years, then an egg farmer for 8yrs I can take my retirement with me”. It became obvious that neither of these Senators had spent time around many teachers, firefighters, and police officers whom typically choose their line of work as a “life choice” staying with their careers their whole lives, particularly police/fire. During debate Senator Margolis stated “This is unconscionable, we are trying to attract the best and brightest to teach our children, save our lives, protect us from criminals this is not going to work”. Senator Clemens added that Milliman had been sued by the State of Maryland successfully (for 70 million dollars…) and that he did not feel comfortable with that firms figures. Senator Clemens was correct in his assumptions the first study Milliman completed was incomplete and had to be redone in the beginning of the session and during the last committee debate of HB 7011 their representative did not even show up for questions. Also during the earlier debates of this bill this reporter was present and heard Florida Professional Firefighters President Gary Rainey point out that local government contributions would rise for the next 28 years for police/firefighters according to their own study. Senator Soto pointed out that wasn’t it just the other day at the bombing during the Boston marathon in the midst of this chaos we saw firefighters emerge to put out the fire, police drew their guns not knowing what they are going to face, EMT’s flew in to take care of the injured. Senator Soto continued “Their life expectations are short, they are not even sure they will collect their first pension check, now you want to take the one thing from the new people they hold dear, I cannot and will not support this amendment”.
Senator Jeremy Ring (possibly the most knowledgeable on pensions in the room) added “There is not a financial service expert in the world that would sound the alarm on our FRS”. Senator Thompson added “At one time I recruited professors where I worked, minimal qualifications were a Masters degree, many people passed me by because of salaries, but many people came to me because of our benefits and we had a defined benefit plan, how are we going to be competitive in recruiting for state government without good benefits if salaries are low”? Senator Thompson went on to say “I have learned if it is not broke let’s not fix it”. Senator Bullard said “When in the Florida House I was confused by some of the actions that we take, I find myself in the middle of this doublespeak, we acknowledge those folks in the gallery and then pass laws to throw them under the bus?
The Final blows of this Tyson/Spinks fight came strongly from Republican Senator Jack Latvala who the remainder of this paragraph will be his final statement of the debate that choked up the Senator himself. “What a privilege and honor it is to debate and argue for what we agree with and then leave as friends, as you know there was 4 or 5 ways from Sunday to not give this a chance to come for an up or down vote and once we get this up or down vote this goes away. We are not talking about what ALEC says, the KOCH brothers says, we are talking about 623k people that are in the system. If you want to sponsor a bill, you get a staff summary by our staff, normally 3 committee references and you get to work your way thru the process. You get to debate the bill, and the first we have seen of this bill and it involves 623k citizens, we don’t have actuarial studies, we have a couple of studies from the House that they had to send back because it didn’t have the right numbers and this is not how the Senate works. 70% of our state employees make less than 40k a year. I firmly believe based on my current employees that one of the reasons they work for the state is for the pension, they have not had a raise in 6 years. We need to continue to offer that pension, that’s the people we work with every day, that’s Wallace and Ruby that clean our office every day, that’s the seargent at arms here at the house. I resent that some people say that because you’re a government employee you are not as good as someone that works for the private sector. I have in my district a highway patrolman, every day he gets in his for car for the last 29 years and he doesn’t know if he’s going to get shot at and his salary is in the 40k’s and the reason he hangs in there is the pension. 2 years ago there was a wildland firefighter Brett Felton and he got stuck in a bog and John Burch headed to help him and both of them died that day and they both made 26k a year which is barely above the federal poverty level. 1200$ a month is what those families have left of their father/husband and now we are considering taking that from them? My pressman in my private company doesn’t carry a gun and that’s what we expect here…I really sincerely hope that you will join me in voting against this amendment”.
Shortly after Senator Latvala and a few other Republican and Democrat Senators spoke, 8 Republican Senators voted with the Senate Democrats and voted against this bill that would have handed the retirements of our future firefighters, teachers and police officers to Wall Street. Sadly, HB 7011 sailed thru the Florida House committees with ALL House Republicans voting FOR this bill and all Democrat Representatives voting AGAINST this bill (which makes me wonder why we have a Florida House of Representatives as it seems it is the “button pushing” branch of Florida’s government). While I’m sure handing 132 Billion dollars over to the Corporate Wall Street Masters/Koch Brothers that fund the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Americans For Prosperity, The Heritage Foundation, The James Madison Institute (man there are a lot of these organizations, I’m sure I missed one or two they must pay well lol) it is NOT what we proud Floridians are in the habit of doing.
03/15/2013 THE FLORIDA PATRIOT
Today in Tallahassee HB 7011 passed its 3rd committee with Republicans voting yes, Democrats voting no down party lines and will most likely head to the Florida House Floor for a final vote next. This bill closes the defined benefit “pension plan” to employees hired after January 1st 2014 forcing them to enroll in the much less popular “investment plan” defined contribution. The problem Tallahassee Republicans fail to understand (despite having multiple pension experts tell them on multiple occasions) is that closing new entrants to this plan is exactly like having folks under 40 suddenly stop paying into social security. When a plan stops having new entrants “pay into the plan” the local counties, sheriff’s offices, and cities will have to pick up the slack and raise taxes on businesses and residents to make the payments to contractually obligated employees. Currently, local counties and cities in FRS pay 14% to the State of Florida in order to fund FRS/pension plan for police officers and firefighters. According to actuarial figures stopping enrollment will eventually raise the 14% figure to 49% on local counties and cities paid to the State of Florida to fund FRS over the next 28 years which will in turn cause them to have to raise taxes on local residents and businesses.
Why are legislators taking this unnecessary step of closing the 4th best funded pension plan public or private in the world to new employees? One reason is its political red meat for groups like “Americans for Prosperity” that tweet on Speaker Will Weatherford’s twitter account regularly about the subject. It is probably one of the things that has gotten Speaker Will Weatherford an invite this year to CPAC and leads to his conservative credentials (how raising taxes for the next 28 years on local governments is conservative this writer does not understand). Another justification given today by one of the legislators in attendance Rep Workman (R) “My dad was sent a letter by his private employer after he retired saying he was to call this number he was losing his pension and being put in a 401k and we are not affecting current employees/retirees in this bill”. Unfortunately Rep Workman does not understand how wrong this is, for the next 28 years according to Milliman (the firm the State hired to do the study) costs do rise on local government for the next 28 years before they see a savings which will undoubtedly make employees contribute ever increasing payments to keep up the plan. To everyone in the room’s shock, not one representative from Milliman bothered to show up and defend their self-admitted flawed study which shows closing the plan raises costs. Rep Waldman (D) stated today “You folks are going to get a letter in future years telling you your out of luck, like Rep Workman’s dad did”. Rep Waldman (D) when discussing how this would proceed in future years pointed out “It is beyond logic to believe that 5 people can support 100,000 people and the State of Florida will have to come up with money years from now”. Another curious fact that Rep Waldman (D) pointed out was that in his 7 years in the legislature he has never seen only 1 person show up in favor of a bill and the expert that created the study did not show up to answer questions. Not a surprise, the 1 person that showed up in favor of the bill represented the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
After much public pressure from police and firefighters over the last two hearings of the bill, legislators added a death/disability amendment for first responders killed in the line of duty; however, this benefit is less than the benefit that was in place for current employees. Perhaps the most dead on comment of the day came from FOP President Preston who said “What you are doing now is setting your house on fire to avoid a hurricane”. Rep Rangel (D) stated “We are putting an unfunded mandate on our local counties and cities by closing this plan to new employees” and “I have received a phone call from the Florida State Troopers that there are 178 unfilled positions that they cannot fill due to low wages and benefits not being able to attract recruits”. Rep Taylor (D) added “You have taken billions from the pension plan and it is still 88 percent funded” and “Folks are not going to risk their lives on the streets for nothing”. Representative Taylor is correct, the State of Florida has “borrowed” 12 billion dollars from the plan since 1998 and has taken payment holidays for the last 3 years. Many current retirees made the trek to Tallahassee with one adding “The FRS at one point was 116% funded and has not made a payment for the last 3 years which is causing it to be 87% funded right now”.
Rumor has it that Florida House Republicans are being bullied into voting for this pension reform bill by Speaker Weatherford, but that it will not see the light of day past the Florida House floor vote. The more seasoned and experienced Florida Senate which has killed more than a few bad ideas generated in the House, has a pension reform bill SB 1392 which gently encourages enrollment by offering incentives to join the investment plan instead of the pension plan. Hopefully, common sense will prevail on the House Floor or in the final version of this bill and Florida Republicans will do the right thing for the taxpayers. If not, maybe we should save the taxpayers money and just elect Speaker Weatherford “King” as some legislators this session seem not to be willing to vote their own conscience, we will be watching and reporting how they vote at THE FLORIDA PATRIOT.
03/09/2013 The Florida Patriot
Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist spoke to a standing room only crowd today at the Ft Myers Democratic Women’s Club. If there was any doubt whether Democrats in Florida want Charlie to run for Governor or accepted him as a Democrat, multiple breakouts of spontaneous applause crushed those doubts. I wish I was the reporter to “scoop” the story and give you a definitive answer; however, that is not the case. During one of the many times Crist was asked today on whether he would run for Governor he said “He was thinking about running and weighing all factors for a potential run”. Jokingly Crist said that question was “The elephant in the room” and that he was having a lot of fun working for Morgan and Morgan in the private sector. During Crist’s speech today he spoke about how President Obama’s federal grants had helped keep firefighters and school teachers on the job here in Florida. When the Question and Answer session started I asked “Governor Crist if you were the current Governor would you veto HB 7011 which ends line of duty death benefits for new police and firefighters widows and ends traditional pensions for new employees entirely” Crist stated that he would Veto such a bill and that he respected the work of firefighters, teachers and police officers and that they deserved good pay and benefits. Two weeks ago Governor Scott was in Ft Myers and I got to ask the same question and was told “He had yet to take a position on HB 7011”.
Crist started his speech describing how his change to the Democratic Party started in Ft Myers when he introduced President Obama and gave him “the infamous hug” that became the front cover of one of Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign pieces during his Senate campaign. Republican friends cautioned Crist against welcoming President Obama telling him that it would be used against him, and Crist said he did it because it was the right thing to do. Crist talked of how President Obama told him” I know that this will cost you” and appreciated his support. Crist went on to say that most of his friends told him he had always been a Democrat he just didn’t know it. Crist went on to say how flattered he was to be asked to speak at the 2012 Democratic Convention on the same night as the President even though he was an Independent and was welcomed with open arms and then was called on again to help campaign in Ohio. During his visit in Ohio they visited the town where the infamous “Jeep” plant that Mitt Romney had stated was going to be closed and those jobs moved to China. Crist said that the workers and residents knew that plant wasn’t going anywhere and for him to tell the world the truth on the matter. Crist said when the decision to join the Democratic Party was made it was suggested to him by a friend that he do it at the White House at the Christmas Party he was invited to and he did.
Crist went on to speak about his roots, immigration, voter reform, education, the environment and first responder staffing mentioning that his family moved to Florida when he was 3 and he was a product of Florida Public Schools and that his two sisters were public school teachers. A Teacher in the crowd stood and thanked Crist for his veto on SB6 when he was Governor. Crist talked about the importance of good public education being the best way for people to get educated and then be able to have professional jobs that pay well. He went on to say you have to want Teachers to have good pay and benefits “all the time” not punish one year and give raises the next. Crist stated that his Grandfather Cristadolis had come to America from the Island of Cyprus when he was fourteen and that good public education had helped his father become a doctor who practices today at the age of 80 in St Petersburg Florida.
Crist stated when he was Governor he had increased early voting to 14 days and increased the hours and days you could vote by executive order so that everyone had their American Right to Vote. He was touched by the story of the 102 year old African-American woman who had waited 7 hours to vote and would not leave having friends help her until she had her chance to vote. After he had left as Governor, Crist said that the legislature had made it more difficult to vote by having mail-in ballots have to match the signature on your Voter card “only”. Crist talked about his own mother whom had a stroke and signature had been affected and wondered how many others were affected by this and why “only signature matching counted” for verification of ballots being counted or thrown out.
Crist talked about how he had first been brought to beautiful Lee County by his father when he was 9 years old to go Tarpon Fishing and had loved the area since. Crist went on to talk about the importance of protecting the environment to business as well as residents “If we don’t have the wisdom to protect the environment it will hurt tourism”. Crist made mention of the “God is Love” sign on Macgregor Blvd and that it is good to honor God.
Crist talked about how “corporations are not people, people are people” and that when you run for office and are elected you should “serve the people”. When asked about why immigrant children are paying out of state tuition rates, he felt that this should be changed and he supported the bill going through the legislature as those children were born here and are residents. Crist stated he was very optimistic and felt Florida had a bright future ahead. This reporter has been involved in politics for a long time and even though he did not come out and say it, today definitely made it feel like Charlie is going to run for Governor of Florida in 2014.
January 28th 2013 The Florida Patriot
Shortly after the ink was dry on the results of the 2010 election results the newly elected Republican Supermajority in the Tallahassee Legislature led by Governor Rick Scott started on a course to dismantle the Florida Retirement System as we know it. Never in my 20 years as a firefighter in Florida had I seen such an attack on the FRS than during the 2011 legislature. It seemed back in recent history, 1998 to be exact, Firefighters and Police Officers had endorsed and helped elect Governor Jeb Bush whose first action was to take the City pension 175 plans and improve them for Firefighters and Police and was the first bill he signed into law. In 2010 the FRS had over 110 billion dollars in it and was over 80% funded and considered the 3rd best funded in the world public or private (it now has 132 Billion and is 88% funded which is considered very healthy).
During this same time the Florida Chamber of Commerce ran ads statewide trying to help pass the “Paycheck Protection Bill” which would have made having your public sector union dues deducted from your paycheck illegal. What’s this…the super majority was trying to restrict “1” thing from being deducted from your paycheck voluntarily, however, over 300 things including United Way could be deducted? Sitting in the 2011 State Senate pension hearings patiently awaiting my turn to testify why the State of Florida should not be able to “break the contract” they had signed with me and go against the State of Florida Constitution I heard a lot of testimony. The James Madison Institute testified which is funded by conservative Republican groups tried to prove that the 3rd best funded pension in the world was headed to insolvency. Eventually, my turn to speak had arrived and I pointed out that I had worked 72 hours in a row following hurricane Charley leveling my county and now they didn’t think that those hours should count in my pension calculation? Many of our Union Presidents spoke and pointed out just how ridiculous breaking the contracts of the hardworking police officers, teachers and firefighters while they were being laid off and taking pay cuts already as extremely unfair. Luckily, even though the paycheck protection bill had passed the Florida House, the wiser and more seasoned Florida Senate did not pass this bill. Unfortunately, the pension bill was passed and touted as “making public sector employees pay into their own pensions like the private sector” passed and a 3% Florida Public Employee Tax was levied on my paycheck.
A “Florida Public Employee Tax” you say, you must be mistaken that 3% goes into the FRS to stabilize our pensions right? The 3% that was overturned by a lower court was upheld recently by the Florida Supreme Court unfortunately goes into the general fund and not the FRS. Who stood up to fight for the public employees and paid for the lawyers to fight for the employees you may ask, Andy Ford President of the FEA and funded by the FEA. One of the reasons that public employees are losing and using Teachers as an example is that membership is over 50% but nowhere near 100%. There is a bill being crafted right now that would close the FRS “defined benefit pension plan” to all Florida Public Employees hired after January 1st 2014, putting them in the 401k style investment plan thus feeding the Wall Street vultures their next government snack. Taking social security as an example if we stopped all people under 55 from contributing to social security and put them into another plan it would collapse in a very short time as it is built on new members contributing. If this law is passed the FRS will in a very short amount of time go from being 88% funded and the 3rd best in the world to being underfunded which would then lead to the arguments to reduce the benefits paid to those retired and soon to retire wrecking a plan that is working fine at the moment.
Another bill making its way thru the committee’s this year would eliminate the 175 provision that Governor Bush put in strengthening the pensions promised to firefighters and police officers. Trying to gain some political cover from the blatant attacks on Florida Public Employees retirements, a few lawmakers have proposed small raises be given to teachers and other state employees. In 2011 a large amount of Florida Public Employees made the pilgrimage to Tallahassee (my drive takes 6 hours) to speak against pension theft and union busting which is ridiculous being Florida is already a right to work state. A very large number of employees also embarked on a heavy emailing and phone call drive that convinced enough members of the Florida Senate to “soften the blow” on pension reform (they were wanting 5% not 3% originally) and voted down the pension dues bill.
The 2013 legislature agenda appears to be headed almost the exact same way that the 2011 legislature was with pension reform being one of their top legislative priorities with them feeling invigorated by their “win” in the Florida Supreme Court. How do we firefighters, teachers, police officers and hundreds of thousands of other public employees stop this pension grab? Join your union and get involved emailing and calling your legislators. If we do not get involved early like we did in 2011, the FRS billions is sure to be handed to the likes of Goldman Sachs in the very near future.
The Florida Patriot 10/20/2012
When my phone rang on Tuesday absolutely the last phone call I thought I would be getting would be a Romney/Ryan forward team staff member asking me if I would like to volunteer to drive a 16 passenger van in the Congressman Ryan motorcade on Thursday. Being a political junkie and always excited about a new opportunity/adventure I immediately agreed. The staff member had received my name from a mutual friend in politics who said I would be a good pick and said he just needed my driver’s license and social security number and relayed that the secret service would have to check my background and they would be in touch. I immediately complied and gave my information to the agent after he relayed who I was referred by and then we hung up.
After the excitement wore off a bit I started wondering if I had been pranked or if someone would be opening credit card accounts in my name. Sure enough, the next day I must have passed my background check and was told to report to the Ft Myers Airport to pick up my passenger van and would receive further instructions after arriving. The Secret Service team and some of the Ryan staff met with us and checked our ID and briefed us. While waiting for Congressman Ryan’s plane to land I got to check out the bomb resistant Chevy Suburban’s and talk to the Secret Service agents. After seeing these gentlemen in action it is no wonder they have not had a successful attack on a President/Vice President or candidate since Ronald Reagan in the 80’s. Just like in the movies ear pieces and radio’s, bulletproof vests, stopwatch precision of schedules are all pre-planned.
Off to the tarmac we go and await the plane carrying Congressman Ryan. Again, the local police agencies working in concert with the Secret Service agents after the plane lands and the Congressman lands we are quickly en route to the first stop at a Naples Country Club. Talk about exciting, the first vehicle a Lee County Sheriff’s vehicle with lights and sirens whisks very quickly off the tarmac and toward our destination. Three Chevy SUV’s move quickly in the motorcade with local police agencies on the front and the back of the motorcade, professionally already stopping traffic at each intersection and handing off the job to Collier County Sheriff’s officers at the County line. As we whisk into our first destination at the Country Club multiple news agencies line the entrance as well as many supporters waving.
Upon arrival the Secret Service takes care to whisk the potential future Vice President into the event upon arrival. My detail was to drive the passenger van carrying the press, with a very nice lady of the press who asked staffers questions on how the campaign was going and future events etcetera. She exits the van and goes in to hear the speech. After a short time we are brought in to get a picture with Congressman Ryan who was extremely appreciative of us volunteering to help the campaign for the day. A beautiful country club with lots of very expensive cars and nicely dressed folks packed the club and according to reports was a great fundraiser for the Romney/Ryan campaign.
Being slightly ahead of schedule the Congressman spends a little bit more time with guests, and then we are on our way to the Lee County event with a large crowd expected. Again with our police escort I get to test the V8 engine of the F350 passenger van and we arrive at the Lee County event without a problem. Upon arrival, Dennis Miller is warming up the crowd of approximately 5,000 attendees with some political humor that favors the Romney/Ryan team. Next up, the very beautiful and articulate Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi takes the stage to the delight of the crowd whom are waving American Flags and waving signs enthusiastically. Large bleachers ring the stage and a standing crowd packs the area in front of the stage. As soon as Mrs. Bondi announces Congressman Ryan the crowd goes wild. Congressman Ryan speaks focusing on jobs, the economy, and the hot button issues of the day. After his speech, Congressman Ryan spends a good deal of time signing autographs and mingling with the crowd and then are off again to the hotel in the speeding motorcade.
I am told that an event like this takes a team quite a bit of pre-planning and arrival and they utilize volunteers like me in every town during the campaign to keep costs down. The campaign staff truly enjoy their job and tells me Governor Romney likes to crack jokes and is very warm to them as well as Congressman Ryan. I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and consider this a bucket list item that I can now cross off.
9/06/2012 The Florida Patriot
Written by John Miele a retired law enforcement officer and republican
I think Bill Clinton is one of the best politicians and speakers I have ever seen. Although I disagree with him just about everything , I think the guy could sell a sausage sandwich to a vegetarian. Last night he told us how it was then when he was the man and how it is now. Naturally, this depends on what the meaning of is —- is. I listened carefully, I hope others did. He said that his, Clinton’s, policys and the economy weren’t working by 1994. What he didn’t mention that this was brought to his attention when the voters turned Democrats out of congress and elected Republicans because the economy was in trouble and they didn’t like Hillarycare. To his credit back then, Clinton reached across the isle, compromised and among other things, lowered the capital gain tax from 28% to 15%. They exempted married couples from tax on $500,000 in capital gain on selling their home. The rejection of the presidents policies in 2010 should have gotten Obama’s attention, as it did Clinton’s, but he lacked Clinton’s experience even in 2010. What Clinton did then is called leadership and left us with a surplus at the end of his admnistration. HE DID THAT
Regarding, no president could have cleaned up this mess in four years. Isn’t that the point. Obama didn’t have the experience then to recognize that. With his total lack of experience in owning, runing or ever being in the private sector, he sold enough voters on Yes, We Can, over promised and under delivered. Regarding no one ever had it harder. First, he had complete control of congress for two years and ignored the economy. No one had it harder ? I remember Carter, unemployment skyrocketing, 21% interest, every other house on my block in foreclosure, etc. In Reagan’s first four years that was turned around. HE DID THAT
Better off today ? Unemployment above 8%, that doesn’t seem better. Median income down $4000 per year, that doesn’t seem good. The jobs created don’t pay near what those that were lost did. My feeling about the economy not being better is reinforced everytime I go to the gas station. It was $4.25 a gallon today, that doesn’t seem better than $1.82 a gallon four years ago. Obama told us early on that $5 gasoline would be OK with him. He may achieve that goal.
Naturally this is my opinion based on my beliefs, experience and some of you won’t agree, I appreciate that. However, something I thought I would never see in our country and won’t forget, is the day, at one of America’s political party’s national convention, God was booed. For the first time in my adult life, I was not proud of my fellow Americans who did that and a party that had no comment. I would hope none of you thought that was OK.
This article resulted from watching the Republican National Convention this week and replying to an anti-labor facebook post on labor day. While watching the RNC Convention this week I heard Governor Chris Christie and Former Governor Jeb Bush both attack the teachers unions, while praising the good teachers. It made me wonder why these two educated gentlemen would not name “Al Quaeda”, The National Debt, or some other menace instead of going after the people that teach our children. If you have followed my website for some time, you read my article on the bullied bus monitor by the mannerless, disrespectful 13yr olds and I ask you, do you really think it is a teacher problem or is it a “parenting/society” problem. I have kept my cards on who I am and what my background is as the owner and principal writer for this website so this article will give you some clues. I truly believe, November 7th our President, US Senate and US House need to get together, drop the rhetoric and start fixing our problems. On January 20th either we will have a fresh set of eyes with President Romney or a “do over” giving our President Barack Obama a second chance to fix our problems, hopefully with the help of Republicans. Below is the reply I had for an anti-union facebook post. In this writers opinion….well see below
Things you may not be aware of where people deal in “absolutes” rather than weighing each issue carefully (in my lifelong Republican opinion)….My hero and possibly the greatest Republican President of our time Ronald Reagan was a Here are some things that did exist before the labor movement. #1 children working in sweatshops and losing limbs in machinery instead of attending school. #2 Unsafe working conditions that resulted in many needless deaths and injuries. #3 The 40 hour workweek (yes you now have weekends due to this labor movement….) #4 Sick leave. There are many other benefits, however, I think I have made my point. Many Republicans that folks would not think have been endorsed by unions #1 Governor Jeb Bush was backed by my union the Florida Professional Firefighters in 1998 and his re-election in 2002. #2 President George Bush was backed by my union the Florida Professional Firefighters in 2000 (the election that was decided by 500 votes in Florida….), there are many other examples, however, you get my point. I have done “hard work” as a construction helper (for very low pay and no benefits), a manager for the Footlocker shoe corporation (for a salary and Chinese overtime don’t ask it takes forever to explain this kind of overtime), my current position as a firefighter/paramedic and member of a labor union, and as the owner of two successful businesses (the lawn business I built, that I sold for a profit), I still have the other one and am doing well. I enjoyed the hard work and sweated equally in all of these jobs btw. Our problems are not an US versus them, unions versus non-union problem, this is the media/certain political groups making the sheeple regurgitate talking points on both sides. My union endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election, I voted for Rudy Giuliani in the primary and begrudgingly voted for John McCain in the General. Sometime after 9/11 (when politicians chased us for endorsements)….after the 2008 Presidential elections I believe, firefighter and police unions became the target of attacks by some members groups of the Republican Party. I feel this is a HUGE mistake. If you polled firefighters and police officers (at least in my area) I would bet 80% of us if not more were Republican before 2010. The greatest times our country have ever seen were following World War II when “looking for the union label and Made in USA” was what Americans did to support their fellow Americans. How did we turn this into a fight against each other and not working together for the betterment of our country? Here are my thoughts on how we could fix this country (it would take bi-partisan support). #1 STOP all foreign aid to countries that hate us (Pakistan receives 20 billion a year)
2 term President of the Screen Actors Guild<<
#2 Immediately pull our forces out of the Middle East and put those soldiers to work rebuilding our crumbling bridges, roads and public schools
#3 Balance our budget and resign ourselves to not borrowing one more dime from China.
#4 Stop funding/ giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas.
#5 Eliminate redundant federal departments in Washington DC and make our Government leaner.
Here are some things that did exist before the labor movement. #1 children working in sweatshops and losing limbs in machinery instead of attending school. #2 Unsafe working conditions that resulted in many needless deaths and injuries. #3 The 40 hour workweek (yes you now have weekends due to this labor movement….) #4 Sick leave. There are many other benefits, however, I think I have made my point.
Many Republicans that folks would not think have been endorsed by unions #1 Governor Jeb Bush was backed by my union the Florida Professional Firefighters in 1998 and his re-election in 2002. #2 President George Bush was backed by my union the Florida Professional Firefighters in 2000 (the election that was decided by 500 votes in Florida….), there are many other examples, however, you get my point.
I have done “hard work” as a construction helper (for very low pay and no benefits), a manager for the Footlocker shoe corporation (for a salary and Chinese overtime don’t ask it takes forever to explain this kind of overtime), my current position as a firefighter/paramedic and member of a labor union, and as the owner of two successful businesses (the lawn business I built, that I sold for a profit), I still have the other one and am doing well. I enjoyed the hard work and sweated equally in all of these jobs btw. Our problems are not an US versus them, unions versus non-union problem, this is the media/certain political groups making the sheeple regurgitate talking points on both sides.
My union endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election, I voted for Rudy Giuliani in the primary and begrudgingly voted for John McCain in the General. Sometime after 9/11 (when politicians chased us for endorsements)….after the 2008 Presidential elections I believe, firefighter and police unions became the target of attacks by some members groups of the Republican Party. I feel this is a HUGE mistake. If you polled firefighters and police officers (at least in my area) I would bet 80% of us if not more were Republican before 2010.
The greatest times our country have ever seen were following World War II when “looking for the union label and Made in USA” was what Americans did to support their fellow Americans. How did we turn this into a fight against each other and not working together for the betterment of our country?
Here are my thoughts on how we could fix this country (it would take bi-partisan support).
#1 STOP all foreign aid to countries that hate us (Pakistan receives 20 billion a year)
The Florida Patriot July 29th 2012
One of the factors that seems to control the polls are the political gaffe’s made by Romney and Obama, some more damaging than others.A more damaging gaffe that seems to be sticking to President Obama is the recent “You didn’t build this” in referring to small business owners. A small business (like The Florida Patriot and another I previously built and sold for a profit) I did build myself without government loans or involvement. Behind a small business is an inventor, a business person, a person willing to take a chance on being their own boss and staking their own money on a business venture. A person that feels that they can build a better mousetrap, website or widget and is willing to bet their own money, reputation, time, heart and soul on it. This is possibly the worst time for the worst statement our President has ever made. Right now, many small businesses are struggling to make it, having to layoff longtime employees, take less profits, and possibly fail and lose it all. Many, many, small businesses started their planning with husband and wife at their kitchen table and involved leaving full time jobs with the confidence and drive that by working smarter and harder than their competitors they could be their own boss.
The other side of this coin in the election that the middle class will decide (who will decided this election as they are the majority of voters) is Romney a smart businessman or Gordon Gecko? Romney’s time and leadership at Bain Capital can be looked at in many ways depending on who is examining it. Bain Capital was an extremely successful company and made Mitt Romney a very rich man. Will the voters look at Romney as a smart capitalist who succeeded in the business world or will the voters look at the closing of a steel mill for profit as a Gordon Gecko type move? Romney’s choice of words about the readiness of the Olympics in Great Britain in my humble opinion will not be a deciding factor. Romney’s comment that didn’t President Obama get it, we don’t need to hire more Teachers, Firefighters and Police Officers potentially appealed to a segment of Voters, however, I can tell you from knowing a great many of the above it potentially lost more than he gained. I have seen Governor Romney explain these comments as President Obama is trying to explain “You didn’t build this”. Vice President Biden is visiting the Firefighters and Teachers National Conventions, when the Romney campaign was asked about support for the National SAFER Grant extension (this has helped keep approximately 50 or more local firefighters in Lee County Fla alone on the job and their communities protected rather than be laid off) he had no comment.
In examining the words and actions of President Obama and Governor Romney over the past year, as well as the polling data that has been changing on a weekly basis this election will come down to the last vote counted on election night. When examining a candidate’s comments on a particular subject as a voter should we pick it apart word for word or take the whole message during a speech into account? How many debates will be held between Governor Romney and President Obama in the coming months and will these have an effect on the outcome of the election?
How will each candidate handle the National Debt question in the debates, with our country being 15 trillion dollars in debt and gaining millions daily it must be addressed. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire in January 2013 and will also be a hot button issue. How will the candidate’s address social security, national healthcare, medicare and national defense. One thing is for certain, this will not be a slam dunk for either Team Romney or Team Obama.
Tommorrow night in Cape Coral Florida 9 candidates all competiting for 1 US House of Representatives seat in Congress will debate at the First Baptist Church at 4117 Coronado Parkway Cape Coral. Doors open to the public at 530pm and the event will start at 630pm. The format will allow each candidate to give an opening followed by a moderator who will ask the 9 candidates position on a number of topics from raising taxes to illegal immigration with the candidates all having yes or no paddles to hold up at the same time and then a period of time to explain their position. Two local news stations NBC-2 and Wink TV will be covering the event starting at 4pm and the event is expected to draw a crowd of over 500 with the attendees participating in a straw poll for their favorite candidate.
The contest for this highly contested seat has two elected officials Rep Paige Kreegel who has been a State of Florida House of Representative first elected in 2004, who is currently serving his final term in office. Rep Kreegel is a family doctor, farmer and rancher. Rep Gary Aubuchon is the second State of Florida House of Representative first elected in 2006. Rep Aubuchon is also a local home builder in the area when not busy with his legislative duties. Chauncey Goss who now resides in Sanibel after working in Washington DC and for other politicians. Joe Davidow who is an attorney in Naples. Byron Donalds who works in computer software for financial institutions. Trey Radel an ex local radio personality. Finally a retired businessman who owns restaurants in Manhattan and now resides in Naples Brian Owens rounds out the Republican field. There is one Democrat in the field Jim Roach who competed against Congressman Connie Mack in 2010 unsucessfully. Jim Roach is a retired engineer. There is a new entry as an NPA to this race in Brandon Smith who will be debating tommorrow night.
The Republican primary is to be held August 14th with the winner of this large field facing Democrat Jim Roach and NPA Brandon Smith. Doors open to the public at 530pm with the event starting at 630pm.