Out of commission: Liveblogging today’s attack on democracy in Orange County
This morning, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (starring Teresa Jacobs) will convene to discuss whether or not you deserve a voice in your government. There’s some background on all of this mess, courtesy Commissioner Fred Brummer, here and here, but there’s also this Sentinel op-ed from this morning. At issue today, however, is that Commissioner Ted Edwards has apparently been successful at removing the “transparency” initiative – which would allow voters to know what party their representatives are working for – from the consent agenda, even after Jacobs et. al. have been making noise that they would NOT interrupt the process that was brought to you by 50,000 voters signing petitions. BECAUSE THAT ALREADY HAPPENED TWO YEARS AGO. We’re going to be watching this unfold and screaming comments in your face. Come along, won’t you?
9:07 a.m: Holy, Holy, Holy, there will be “ministering the word of God” before we get to any lying. Thank GOD for that.
9:10 a.m.: indivisible, liberty, justice, all, etc.
9:15 a.m.: Oh, the awkward rustling of polyester on microphones. This is going to go long, apparently. Pete Clarke is discussing his love of “that shotgun” in relation to the history center. What county do we live in?
9:16 a.m.: Teresa Jacobs really loves when you “bring your passion to work.”
9;17 a.m.: “I BELIEVE WE HAVE A NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS WHO WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK!” That number is “7”
9:19 a.m.: OOOOOH, SOMEBODY IS TALKING ABOUT A TOLL ROAD FOR DESERET. This was unexpected. “This commission gives us lip service, but we know you love to have bond money….” BAM! This lady is wearing a “nobuild.org” button. It is large and it is yellow.
9:22 a.m.: OMG YOUR TIME IS UP, EXPRESSWAY LADY! Well played though.
9:23 a.m: SEAN ASHBY IS ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT THE POWER GRAB.
9:24 a.m.: “50,000 ORANGE COUNTY VOTERS SIGNED A PETITION,” says Ashby, lest you need reminding. Also, more lessons for the dais on how the actual county charter works. Sean Ashby HAS A LETTER from SOE Bill Cowles showing approval of said sigs. This is basically a (kind of angry) what the fuck are you doing, commission? Ashby is quoting Jacobs from the Sentinel, wherein she said this should go on the ballot. SICK TIME HAS JUST BEEN BROUGHTEN. Also, “courts ruled,” etc. “This board must act today…” Ashby’s time is up.
9:26 a.m.: OOOOH, JACOBS IS BITING BACK. She’s mad that her term might be shortened by two years if this thing goes down. She says “most people who signed it” didn’t know that her term would be shortened two years. She is clearly unhappy.
9:28 a.m.: SCOTT BOYD IS MAD THAT TEDWARDS REMOVED THIS FROM THE AGENDA. Boyd now wants to know who is ACTUALLY IN CITIZENS FOR CONCERNED ELECTIONS. Uh-oh.
9:29 a.m.: Edwards says that he did pull it from the agenda; also doesn’t like the ballot summary. WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE. “This disengages independents,” says Edwards. Bullshit. Clarke wants to know the names behind the ballot initiative, “in the name of transparency.” Jacobs says, “and informed elections?” These people are assholes.
9:32 a.m.: Some guy is complaining about construction noise, because county politics.
9:42 a.m: Well, that was some pretty effective talk about medical marijuana. And here’s some more. There is talk of banning maryjane in Orange County, apparently. “This is not a laughing matter,” says this awesome lady, who is so taking the board to the floor right now.
9:45 a.m.: Tedwards is talking about being proactive on the medical marijuana. Everyone watched WFTV’s groundbreaking weed buy, it seems. Jacobs thinks that Charlotte’s Web should be enough. The citizen at the podium is reminding her that cannabis has a ton of different strains, etc.
9:49 a.m.: WE ARE RETURNING TO THE PULLED ITEM! First up, Tedwards.
9:50 a.m.: Tedwards has a “grave concern” that “average person”s won’t understand the ballot language. The county attorney said it would be “safer” to adopt what people have already signed up for.
9:51 a.m.: Jacobs has “great concern” about changing the language, because this is all a set up to make her look like a hero.
9:52 a.m.: “Anything that we do to alter the language I think would be suspect and undermine the public’s confidence in us…” SERIOUSLY.
9:53 a.m.: NOTHING PERSONAL, BUT THIS IS ALL PERSONAL, SEZ JACOBS. She won’t support any changes though.
9:54 a.m.: Scott Boyd is living in the echo of Earned Sick Time. He just mentioned Honey Boo Boo.
9:55 a.m.: YOU CAN’T JUST CALL EVERYTHING CONFUSING TEDWARDS. IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT.
9:56 a.m.: Your pal BRUMMER thinks this is all intentional and terrible. It still passed though. Scott Boyd wants to talk about the other charter amendments later. LET’S TALK LATER, he says.
10 a.m.: We’re going to pack this up for now, because it’s all gone United Way PowerPoint on us. But if there’s more to report this afternoon, this is the rabbit hole you’ll want to leap down. See you then?
OH, HEY, LOOK! IT’S ALMOST 2 P.M.!!!! THINGS ARE ABOUT TO START AGAIN. THANK GOD IT ALREADY RAINED.
2:05 p.m.: OK, it’s seeming pretty TEA PARTY heavy up in your board, so maybe this is going to get interesting? Prediction: Every commissioner (save SILENCE THOMPSON and Tiffany Moore Russell) has already indicated that they intend to support the resurrected Brummer proposals – including the one that would eliminate tax collector as an elected position – so there will be a lot of dancing but no listening this afternoon.
2:10 p.m.: THE GAVEL HAS BEEN BANGED.
2:11 p.m.: “WE ARE PUSHING A 100-PAGE ORDINANCE,” says this guy, about “A LOT OF SUBJECT MATTERS.” But this is construction stuff, not constructive stuff.
2:12 p.m.: Did somebody seriously just open a can of soda on a hot mic?
2:13 p.m.: OH, THIS AMENDMENT IS ABOUT BOOZE. SO SOMEBODY OPENED A MILLER LITE.
2:16 p.m.: Since this is totally boring, here’s the press release that came out while you were eating your salad.
Orange County citizens reject Brummer’s latest power grab
Orlando – Today, a broad coalition of citizens and organizations rallied against Commissioner Fred Brummer’s latest power grab designed to prevent citizens from petitioning their local government.
Commissioner Brummer’s cynical ploy creates one set of rules for politicians and another set of rules for citizens. “Citizens shouldn’t have to gather fifty thousand petitions to accomplish what lobbyists can with four text messages,” said Stephanie Porta, executive director of Organize Now, a member of the Orange Rising coalition.
In 2012, more than 50,000 citizens signed petitions to vote on Earned Sick Time. According to court rulings, this County Commission first tried to change the rules, and then violated its own charter to keep voters from having a real chance to vote on Earned Sick Time. An investigation also concluded commissioners violated our sunshine laws by deleting text messages from business lobbyists who were directing them to stop Earned Sick Time from being on the ballot.
Commissioner Brummer’s latest proposal continues a clear attack on citizens who play by the rules. His attempt to limit citizen participation ensures that no citizen initiatives would ever possibly affect “the regulation of employer wages, benefits or hours of work.” The attempt to limit citizen initiatives’ subject areas to laws that don’t affect government or business is simply an underhanded attempt to stifle the input of Orange County citizens. “What law or referendum would not affect government or business?” Porta asked.
“This morning, the County Commission approved a citizen’s initiative to appear on the ballot — what they should have done two years ago when Earned Sick Time came before this body,” Porta said. “But don’t break out the champagne just yet. If Commissioner Brummer’s proposal passes this afternoon it will change the rules again at the last second. All to undermine fifty thousand voters.”
This power grab also more than triples the amount of time that the county has to silence a citizens’ initiative from 45 days to 150 days, thus changing the rules and process mid stream to give politicians an additional three and a half months to undermine citizens’ proposals that they (or their special interest lobbyist friends) don’t like.
Orange County citizens had to collect 245 petitions a day to put Earned Sick Time on the ballot. To qualify for County Commission District 4 right now a candidate could collect petitions over three and a half years – less than one petition per day. By the same token, a candidate for mayor could collect petitions over that same three and a half year period. That’s a little less than 5.5 petitions a day.
Forcing citizens to gather 245 petitions a day while political candidates need only one or a handful is wrong. We should not have one set of rules for citizens and a different set of rules for politicians.
“Government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people,” added Porta. “There should be one set of rules that apply to us all equally.”
2:17 p.m.: CHICKEN ORDINANCE! DRINK!
2:19 p.m.: OK, so there is some stalling going on here, clearly. Commissioner Brummer does not like dust? What is this nonsense?
2:21 p.m.: BOARD OF ZONING ADJUSTMENT STUFF IS HAPPENING. Not anymore. Now we’re on to the charter amendment talk – so, the good stuff – but Jacobs doesn’t really know how to pronounce her legal counsel’s name? However, her “presentation will be fairly brief.” SIDE NOTE: Could everyone please sound a little more like they’re going through the motions?
2:25 p.m.: SO, THE AMENDMENT TALK IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Everything that has been a “referendum” can be called null and void if this passes. County attorney Jeff Newton is once again confused, which is never a good sign; we’re talking about the fact that if the elections are moved to November, Jacobs would have her tenure “truncated.” If that happens, there will be a court battle. AND YOU WILL PAY FOR IT.
2:30 p.m.: EVERYONE IS CONFUSED. Newsflash, right?
2:30 p.m.: There are 50 people in attendance for each of the charter amendments. Related: My insides just died.
2:31 p.m.: Annnnnnd, Rick Namey is kicking things off with a high-five to sicktime. CORPORATE MINIONS, he says. Why are we trying to eliminate the rights to petition? IT’S IN THE FREAKING CONSTITUTION. This is going to get expensive, says Namey. Also, he’s Tiffany Namey’s daddy, he wants you to know.
2:33 p.m.: More screaming at Jacobs and company. You are run by lobbyists. You should know better.
2:35 p.m.: TEDWARDS is arguing that 45 days for a ballot initiative is not long enough for SOE Bill Cowles, so now he’s explaining himself. Now Cowles is seemingly in defense of a five month waiting period, because, duh, easier job? But not for the reasons that Teresa is scripting, though. So there was some applause situation, which Jacobs hates, and now we’re talking about it too much. How many days is enough days for petitions? What’s the perfect date? What color your parachute? Cowles didn’t answer in a manner that was good enough for TEDWARDS. FORTY FIVE DAYS is not enough says Cowles, because he’s not making a lot of sense. His solution would be the same as the last date for a candidate, qualifying date, to approve an initiative for a ballot. This feels like a set up.
2:42 p.m.: I LOVE THIS GUY. How many ballot initiatives are we complaining about? ONE. The one you thwarted. Now there’s a second one, which clearly means we should be using a whole afternoon talking about this travesty of justice.
2:45 p.m.: I LOVE DENISE DIAZ. How do you know? Because I wrote the same thing last time this happened. We are spiraling in the same political vortex that we have lived in for years. Thanks Denise for reminding us that when you stall on initiatives, you are undermining initiatives.
2:47 p.m.: IT’S NOT CITIZENS FOR AN INFORMED ELECTORATE, IT’S CITIZENS FOR INFORMED ELECTIONS, TERESA. Jacobs meanwhile is explaining motivations, as if she has good ones.
2:50 p.m.: “We’re drowning out here,” says this speaker. Also, well done calling out fake smiles from Jacobs. Phew, this is a lot.
2:51 p.m.: Nancy Jacobson is speaking the truth: This huge change for the petition process needs to be vetted by the Charter Review Commission. “It’s really painful to watch the county commission doing the work of the charter review commission, basically on the spot.” Amen.
2:55 p.m.: THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IS HERE. IMAGINE THAT. THEY SUPPORT PEOPLE NOT HAVING DEMOCRACY.
2:58 p.m.: “FLAGRANT LYING HYPERBOLE!!!!!!!!” There is a woman speaking right now about outside influence trying to make the county mind its own laws. She’s rich. As is every terrible word falling out of her mouth.
3:01 p.m.: YOU’RE TERRIBLE, GET OFF THE STAGE.
3:02 p.m.: THIS GUY JUST SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING. LUIS ROLFO? YOU ARE MY HERO.
3:06 p.m.: Carlos Smith from Orange Dems is arguing against citizens getting heard in “as late a time as possible.” He is representing Orange County’s “most popular party.” He also just pointed out that this move would give more time for things like pre-emption. Also, a little helpful advice, he says, THIS BOARD already looks bad enough, thanks. CALLED THIS IDEA HALF-BAKED. Awesome.
3:10 p.m.: Sometimes crazy people talk.
3:13 p.m.: And then Doug Head shows up and says there shouldn’t be two different sets of rules. Jacobs says “good observations.”
3:16 p.m.: CRAZYLADYOUTSIDEMONEYCONSPIRACYTALK.
3:17 p.m.: Stephanie Porta is talking. Full disclosure: Stephanie Porta is awesome. “GIRLTALK: DON’T LIKE.”
3:18 p.m.: The commission should also have to wait 150 days, right? “Government is supposed to be by the people, of the people, for the people…”
3:19 p.m.: This guy? Amazing. You guys are paid, right? So you need more time to review these initiatives? Which you’re billing us for?
3:21 p.m.: BROOK HINES! That is all.
3:23 p.m.: Former Weekly worker bee Trevor Fraser just brought up the county’s “fear of democracy” being “enshrined.” Well done. Why do we have to fight over this crap constantly? County, you are being horrible. The optics are bad.
3:28 p.m.: “This nation was founded as a republic,” says this lady. “My right to petition is for me to approach you.” She would also like you to know that you are dumb and need a long time to approach your bought and sold commission and get their approval.
3:32 p.m.: HOLYSHIT THIS WOMAN JUST WON THE WORLD. “YOU GUYS ARE HERE TO REPRESENT US AND IT SEEMS LIKE YOU SHOOT US DOWN.” WE CAN VOTE YOU OUT OF HERE. “ALL I’VE SEEN IS PEOPLE COME UP AND DEBATE WITH YOU…”
3:38 p.m.: SOMETIMES TERESA SEEMS FUNNY: “Stop the clock so we can commiserate with the speaker.” Then you realize Teresa is just mean.
3:40 p.m.: WE’RE ABOUT TO TAKE A BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!! But not before Brummer eats more of his own foot, publicly.
4:03 p.m.: We’re hearing that crazy Tea Party lady “Barbara” had to get escorted out after fighting with our girlfriend Denise. So, sounds like my Sunday.
4:08 p.m.: WE ARE BACK BACK BACK!
4:10 p.m.: WELL, THIS IS EMBARRASSING. We need to take another break because the attorneys are missing. HA.
4:12 p.m.: Even more embarrassing, legal doesn’t know what legal is talking about.
4:16 p.m.: OR, HEY, MAYBE WAIT TIL CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION, AGREES EVERYONE. Why are we here?
4:18 p.m.: Hey, County Attorney Jeffrey Newton, maybe after two times failing, you shouldn’t be county attorney anymore?
4:19 p.m.: Jacobs just said, “Who am I?”
4:24 p.m.: AND NOW WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE PARTISAN/PRIMARY/TRANSPARENCY THING. “Please look at what you’re doing,” asks local guy Emmett O’Dell. Indeed.
4:26 p.m.: CORRECTION! No we aren’t. That was approved for the ballot this morning. It’s all just blurring together at this point. This is the one where there are limitations on WHAT YOU CAN PETITION. The current speaker just called out the “old rich people” who are responsible for this.
4:31 p.m.: CRAZY TEA PARTY LADY IS BACK. “All I really want is good governance.”
4:33 p.m.: Marry me, Ida Eskamani
4:34 p.m.: DO NOT FUCK WITH NANCY JACOBSON ON THE BRASS AND TAX OF CHARTER POLITICS.
4:35 p.m.: THANK YOU NANCY FOR POINTING OUT THAT THE COMMISSION HAS JUST PRESENTED AN OPPOSITE AMENDMENT TO DEVALUE THE ONE THAT WAS PUT ON THE BALLOT THIS MORNING. KICK BRUMMER IN THE BALLS. “THE OPTICS ARE TERRIBLE.” AMEN.
4:37 p.m.: Denise Diaz: “You’re very clear that you want to engage with employers, but not employees.”
4:41 p.m.: Awesome union guy reminds the dais that minimum wage is JUST. NOT. ENOUGH. We are in a class war, and Orange County is waging it via Darden, Disney, etc. “Where working people actually fight back,” he says of this moment.
4:43 p.m.: THANK YOU MARK (and your adorable baby). Thanks for reminding us that there are low wage workers, and our only avenue for us is via our government. “Brummer, that’s a clear stab. We can see right through everything that you’re doing,” he says. REALLY DISAPPOINTED IN TERESA JACOBS, HE SAYS. YOU STOOD UP FOR THE WORKERS, HE SAID. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT?
4:47 p.m.: Sort of in love with this hardline Richard guy who is bringing up “labor battles.” There are some wonderful locals standing up for you today, you should know. Richard wants you to know that, even though 70k people believed in sick time, the county went to the state and shut you up. You know weekends? They came from labor. “Stand on the side of the citizenry of this county,” he says. They won’t.
4:51 p.m.: SHUT UP, MIKE KETCHUM FROM THE CHAMBER. YOU LOOK HORRIBLE IN ALL OF THIS. ALSO, WHEN YOU REFER TO YOURSELF AS THE CHAMBER, IT SOUNDS LIKE A SECRET.
4:53 p.m.: Stephanie Porta HAS FIVE MINUTES. She just took a jab at the chamber! And at Brummer! “I have some people,” she says. WE HAVE THE WORST WORKING CONDITIONS IN THE COUNTRY. TO BE CLEAR, THE WORST. “We have a problem here.” Yes.
4:55 p.m.: Edwards told Porta, let Congress fix it. “When was the last time Congress passed a law?” she asked.
4:56 p.m.: “Stop changing the rules midstream. IT IS DISGUSTING… IT’S PRETTY MUCH YOUR M.O.” “The public is on our side, even if you aren’t.”
OH LOOK, ALL OF THIS:
Hello, my name is Stephanie Porta and I was born and raised in Orange County and have lived here for more than 30 years. I do not believe in one set of rules for citizens and a different set of rules for politicians.Commissioner Brummer’s latest proposal continues a clear attack on citizens who play by the rules. His attempt to limit citizen participation ensures that no citizen initiatives would ever possibly affect “the regulation of employer wages, benefits or hours of work.”In 2012, more than 50,000 citizens signed petitions to vote on Earned Sick Time. According to court rulings, this County Commision first tried to change the rules, and then violated its own charter to keep voters from having a real chance to vote on Earned Sick Time…after listening to big business lobbyists.46% of workers in Orange County now do not have any way to access Earned Sick Time. That’s the highest percentage in the Country. Earned Sick Time that would allow a working mom to take care of her sick child or a family member to take care of her dying mother with cancer.We have the lowest paid workforce in the country. 35% of our workforce makes less than 25k a year. We have a problem in this County. This county. Not Palatka. This county has a real problem. And instead of doing anything to fix these problems, Commissioner Brummer is now proposing that it be illegal to petition our government on these issues.And what are those in power in Orange County doing to solve these real life and death problems? Those in power are preventing those not in power from being able to petition their government and have a vote. Those in power don’t want low income people to have the same power as high paid lobbyists representing giant corporations.Yesterday I had a brief moment to speak with Commissioner Edwards. He said that it was Congress’s job to fix these problems that Orange County disproportionately suffers from. When was the last time Congress passed a law? Exactly. Why would we restrict how we can fix real problems in our own community while we wait for no one else to do anything? You are each in local government to solve problems. And we can petition our government when those in power don’t do anything to help those not in power. Restricting these laws is a slap in the face to Orange County voters who are suffering and working extremely hard every day to survive. Not to mention unintended consequences. Do you even know what the solutions of the future are? Well you may not know now, but when you do, it may be illegal to do so.Brummer’s proposal also could potentially undermine another 50,000 voters.This morning, this County Commission approved a citizen’s initiative to appear on the ballot — what they should have done two years ago when Earned Sick Time came before this body. But don’t break out the champagne just yet. If Commissioner Brummer’s proposal passes this afternoon it will change the rules again at the last second. All to undermine 50k voters. AGAIN.Wasn’t it enough that this Commission already ignored and created another set of rules last time around?There should be one set of rules that apply to us all equally. Stop changing the rules mid-stream. It’s absolutely disgusting. But don’t worry even as you disgust us and our local control, we won’t give up this fight. We will be back. And my guess is, you will try again to change the rules. Its pretty much your MO.And at this point, since I have time. I would like to ask everyone who is against this to stand up.And I would also like to note that on the last round, 30 people spoke against the proposal, and 6 for it. Its about the same now. The public is on our side even if you aren’t.