South Florida 912 Celebrates Fourth Anniversary
The South Florida 912, founded in March of 2009 by Shannon and Doug Armstrong, reached a major milestone on Saturday – four years of continuous operation. Originally conceived as perhaps a small “book club” when Doug and Shannon organized the first meeting at the old McKenna’s in Lake Worth in response to Glenn Beck’s “We Surround You” concept, the 300+ strangers who came through the doors suggested that something bigger was in the works.
Since that time, the group has become a grassroots force in Palm Beach County, working for national, state and local candidates, lobbying for ethics reform and budget restraint at the county level, doing charitable work, and acting as a rallying point for like-minded activists who want to take an active role in their government.
Saturday’s event, moderated by Dennis Lipp featured a range of speakers on the theme that “all politics is local”, and “for the government to get smaller, we have to get bigger”.
County Commissioner Jess Santamaria, with whom the group has collaborated in the past on ethics reform, told us of the history of corruption in Palm Beach County and what was done about it. Iris Scheibl announced a new coalition (in which SF 912 is a partner) called the PBC Ethics Defense Alliance, which will work to defend the ethics reforms that have been established.
County Inspector General Sheryl Steckler, outlined her Citizens’ Initiative, where activists who are willing to attend council meetings and monitor their city and town governments can be trained as watchdogs. The next class is Thursday April 11th from 5:30-7:30pm at her office location – Hilton Airport Center, 100 Australian Avenue, 4thfloor, WPB. You can sign up here.
Then we heard from Angela West about her new blog “The Republican Coffee Corner with Angela” (an eclectic mix of politics, music, art and prayer), some observations on problems and opportunities for the Republican party, impressions from the just concluded CPAC convention in Washington, and an update on the doings of her husband, former Congressman, Colonel Allen West.
Karen Jaroch, a co-founder of the Tampa 912 and newly appointed regional coordinator for Heritage Action, took us through her successful “No Tax for Tracks” campaign in Hillsborough County to defeat a ballot amendment which would have raised the sales tax to pay for a Tampa/Orlando light rail project.
This campaign used a toolbox of organizing techniques that was able to defeat an entrenched and well funded set of special interests, and many of these tools should be useful for some of our upcoming projects.
Finally, everyone’s talk radio favorite Joyce Kaufman gave us her perspective on the problems of the day, traveling with us to Washington on the bus (never again on a bus!!), her view of Marco Rubio and other conservative “stars”, and a reminder that we can never rest in our struggle to defend the values that define our country.
As with most 912 gatherings, we had a few candidates preparing for the 2014 races. Alan Schlesinger, running for Patrick Murphy’s seat in CD18, David Wagie gearing up for Lois Frankel’s CD22 seat, and Ilya Katz who is set to challenge Debbie Wasserman Schultz in CD23 are all in the early stages of creating their campaigns and we expect to see more of them as the clock ticks down to November 2014.
Many partook of the buffet catered by Boston Market prior to the meeting – and there were many new faces and old friends. Thanks to all who volunteered with setup and cleanup.
The next South Florida 912 meeting will be the second Tuesday of April (4/9) at the Original Pancake House in Palm Beach Gardens. Cancelled – please attend the Stand for America event which South Florida 912 is co-sponsoring.
Some Pictures from the event: