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.
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.
March 22nd 2012 The Florida Patriot
In a new series of articles we at The Florida Patriot will be covering BUPAC which stands for Business People United For Political Action Committee which meet every Thursday at 7am at the Edison Community College Cafeteria in Ft Myers Florida and have a current candidate for public office speak and field questions from the public in the audience live for 1 hour. This format is awesome in that attendees get to know the candidate, where they stand on the issues, and Voters can ask their own questions of the candidate. This organization has been around for many years and has had many current speakers including Congressman Connie Mack at their forum. This group is well known for asking tough questions on the candidate’s voting record, work history, platform they are running on and specifically how they would accomplish their ideas. All of this makes BUPAC a great place to go if you would like to get to know a candidate, let’s get started.
Dr. Paige Kreegel has been the District 72 Florida State House Representative since being elected in 2004. He is a Medical Doctor who has founded his own medical clinic, a citrus grower, a husband and father of 3 children. Kreegel believes our country is currently in bad shape and is headed in the wrong direction with too much government, too many entitlements, too high taxes to pay for it all, and referred to Obama as the “Spender in Chief”. He noted that 1 in 6 Americans are on food stamps and that our hard earned dollars are being given to non-producers. Asked to expand on his statements, he made note that Social Security was created for retirees who have earned this benefit, however, most of the people in the Social Security office are now younger people looking for disabilities including one of his former patients in good physical shape who qualified due to being claustrophobic. Also, he made note of the fact that back pain and being diagnosed as bi-polar are the most common reasons for disability and medicare claims and is leading to the system being underfunded. He qualified this by saying he understands when you see someone is a quadriplegic and is in true need of help he has no issue with this. He mentioned the fact that during President Reagan’s 1st 6 years in office disability claims actually went down.
Asked about Kreegel’s ideas to reduce the National debt he listed as #1 to stop giving foreign aid in the Billions to countries that just hate us. He stated he would like to develop a serious energy policy that would make the United States less dependent on foreign oil that would involve drilling for oil where we could safely drill. Also on energy he stated that ethanol/gasoline has raised the price of corn. Asked where he stood on taxes “He would like to see a total overhaul of our current tax code”. Kreegel stated he would Vote to stop increasing our debt ceiling and get serious about reducing our national debt. Asked about illegal immigration he is not in favor of amnesty, however, he is in favor of a guest worker program and would spare children that have been raised here.
The crowd’s next round of questioning involved the Military and his views on foreign policy. In addition to stopping foreign aid to countries that hate the United States he was asked specifically about the Wars in the Middle East. Kreegel stated that he was in favor of the beginning of the war that rid the area of dictators and terrorists such as Sadam Hussein, however, is not in favor of the expensive “nation building” exercises like that which is taking place now in Afghanistan. Kreegel stated he would definitely be in favor of term limits in Congress and would Vote for this. Again the subject came to the U.S. Military and the question was “Can our military be reduced worldwide”? Kreegel stated that he wants our military to be ready for anything, however, was not in favor of nation building. He also stated that he had passed the Veterans readiness bill that helps National Guard troops return back to their home state after service.
Local officials regularly attend BUPAC and Marilyn Stout who is currently a member of the Lee Memorial Hospital Board asked “Why did you Vote against the prison privatization bill”? Kreegel responded that this bill was a scam and said that region 4 had 8,401 violent close custody prisoners prior to this bill coming up and after it was developed region 4 had only 79 so the private company would be able to pocket millions of dollars while only saving the State of Florida a much smaller amount. A close custody prisoner is one that may take 2 guards to move 1 prisoner, whereas, a non-violent crime “jaywalker” as the prison guards call them only need 1 guard to move 6 prisoners. He went on to say that protecting law abiding citizens from bad people that would hurt them is a core mission of government. Kreegel also went on to say that the 2nd amendment is a Right and that all Americans have a right to protect themselves as well.
BUPAC has a different speaker that may include a candidate for office, a current elected official, a political group such as casino tax watch etcetera and charges a 4$ donation or for an 8$ donation it includes a full breakfast buffet. Doors open at 7am and the speaker starts promptly at 730am and ends at 830am. We at The Florida Patriot hope you have enjoyed getting to know the candidate and we will be reporting soon on another candidate at BUPAC and other clubs.