Welcome & Introductions: STEPHANIE
The battle for Earned Sick Time uncovered a pattern of arrogance and greed so widespread it has united our diverse community to take our local government back. And that’s what VOTE LOCAL is all about.
I would like to introduce the speakers for today…
The campaign: Beverlye Colson Neale, National Congress of Black Women
Today, Orange Rising – a coalition of more than 20 organizations – is announcing the launch of a new campaign called VOTE LOCAL to encourage greater voter participation in local elections.
Here in the I-4 corridor presidential elections get a lot of attention. But local elections are all too easy to ignore.
One reason for that is that local offices are voted on during the primaries. Not many independent voters vote in primaries, so they also tend not to vote in important local elections.
We want to fix that.
The Survey—Fred Barr, Main Street Alliance – Florida, formerly Community Business Association
VOTE LOCAL will mount a public information campaign to ensure Orange County citizens can and will vote confidently in our upcoming August 26th local elections and beyond. (THIS IS GOING LIVE TOMORROW AT www.votelocal2014.com and .org)
The first thing we thought would be helpful is a survey of all the candidates for Mayor and County Commission. We’re posting their answers – or lack of answers – online so voters can see where they stand on issues that matter to them.
We asked about quality jobs, good government and livable communities. We hope that these questions spark more discussion and enlarge the debate.
Why these issues are important:
• Good Government/LGBT issues: Mary Meeks
• Quality Jobs: Eric Clinton, AFLCIO
• Livable Communities: Brook Hines, Director Main Street Alliance – Florida (formerly Community Business Association)
Why is this campaign needed? Stephanie Porta, Organize Now
Even if Orange County voters approve Earned Sick Time it won’t count because of a backroom deal to have Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature preempt local sick time referendums.
Following the infamous ‘textgate’ scandal, a court ruling found that the County Commission violated their own charter by keeping the sick time proposal off the ballot, and criminal fines were levied against several commissioners for destroying text messages that documented a coordinated effort with business interests and the Orange County Republican Party that corrupted the democratic process.
The Brummer backfire: Marcos Vilar, Florida New Majority
Instead of taking steps to avoid such unseemly machinations in the future, Commissioner Fred Brummer’s ill conceived proposal sought to muffle citizens altogether.
He put forward a reckless and misleading scheme that would have made citizen’s initiatives impossibly burdensome by increasing the number of signatures needed and halving the time to submit them to a brief 90 days.
Brummer’s proposal would have added two Republican-appointed members to the Commission, shielded the partisan ties of elected officials from the public, and gotten rid of the independently elected Tax Collector’s position, eliminating an important check on the board’s ability to grant political favors through selective enforcement.
At a time when the Mayor and Commission have proved unable to govern fairly, they’re pushing for less oversight, less transparency, less accountability and less voter participation.
Thankfully, the citizens of Orange County turned out in force to voice their opposition to this costly and misleading proposal to stifle citizen initiatives through a rushed and unnecessary special election.
This reckless scheme would have cost taxpayers more than a million dollars and would have disenfranchised thousands of voters. Thankfully, Orange County voters stood up against this power grab.
We will remember March 11th for some time as the day we finally forced the Orange County Board of County Commissioners to do the right thing.
Emboldened by their actions during the Earned Sick Time campaign, some Orange County Commissioners thought they could once again stifle citizens’ voices and get away with it.
What they didn’t count on was that the battle for Earned Sick Time had uncovered a pattern of arrogance and greed so widespread that it united our diverse community to show up and take our local government back. And that’s exactly what happened.