912 Leader’s Picks for November 2012

Disclaimer: These election selections are the personal choices of the South Florida 912 leadership team, not an endorsement by the organization. Our panel of 11 was unanimous on these picks except where noted. Many members have asked for such a guide, as an aid to their own research. As such, we are asking you to look at our picks, read our rationale, then choose for yourself.

For an in-depth look at all the candidates and the districts, use our Online Voters Guide

Note: In some of our rationale, legislator ratings from the American Conservative Union (ACU) are used. The ACU is the organizer of CPAC, and compiles ratings based on voting records.

Federal Government
Race Our Choice Rationale
President / Vice-President
Mitt Romney

Paul Ryan

Many of us, maybe most of us, supported other candidates in the Republican primary. As the others rose and fell, Mitt Romney was the one with staying power, outlasting and outplaying them all. The experience honed his message in such a way that today he deserves to wear the mantle of conservative champion. From repealing Obamacare, restoring our strength and image abroad, dealing with entitlements and the federal debt, reducing the size of the federal government and getting their boot off the throat of the job creators in this country, Mitt Romney will correct the leftward lurch of the last four years. Paul Ryan, called by Romney the intellectual leader of the Republican party, will be an excellent partner in this journey, and is perhaps better suited than any current leader to restore us to a position of fiscal sustainability.

But the election is and has always been about Barack Obama, whose extreme left policies, implemented by a cadre of progressive commissars with no appreciation for what made and kept this country great, has animated the grass roots conservative movement like no other. Presiding over an economic policy that favors redistribution and crony capitalism, a foreign policy that has made us weak, emboldened our enemies and squandered our gains won at the cost of blood and treasure, and displaying a disregard for the constitutional restraints on executive power not seen before in this country, Barack Obama MUST BE DEFEATED, or we will not recognize America at the end of another four years.

Mitt Romney deserves your contributions, deserves your volunteer time and deserves your vote. You know what to do.

US Senate
Connie Mack
As with the race for President, many of us dallied with other champions during the primary, and Connie Mack’s late entry and seeming attitude of inevitability turned off many. That said, an objective look at his record as a Congressman reveals a solid conservative with a 93% lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union. (Bill Nelson earned a 15%). He has supported tea party values since before they were called that, and is one of the few Congressman who actually voted against the debt ceiling / sequestration deal. His “Mack Penny Plan”, although not as sexy as Herman Cain’s 9-9-9, is a simple yet straightforward path to fiscal prudence. Incumbent Bill Nelson on the other hand, gave us Obamacare and has been lockstep with the President throughout his progressive agenda. Winning back the Senate will be necessary to overturn Obamacare and defeating Nelson is a necessary step.
US House – only one will be on your ballot:
Congressional District 18
Allen West
Allen West has been a favored candidate of the South Florida 912 since its origin in 2009, and many of us worked on his initial 2008 campaign. Washington is broken and Congressman West represents a new breed of leader who approaches the problem in a strategic way, solidly grounded in the principles on which our country was founded. While the redistricting turned his old district into hostile territory, his move to CD18 offers the opportunity to continue the fight. He is rated 88% by the American Conservative Union for his votes on 25 bills in 2011. His opponent Patrick Murphy, a CPA with no previous experience in elected office, comes to the race flush with cash from the national Democrats as the designated giant killer who will dispatch one of their most hated (and feared) Congressmen. If Allen West can be defeated, Murphy and his backers believe it will represent a major blow against tea party influence in national politics. For conservatives, returning Allen West to Washington is as important as the Presidential race.
Congressional District 20 Alcee Hastings is running for his 11th term against token opposition from anti-abortion activist and NPA candidate Randall Terry (who doesn’t even live in Florida), and a write-in candidate in this D+51 district. Rated a 5/100 by the ACU for his votes in 2011, Congressman Hastings has enthusiastically supported the Obama agenda. Even though his election is a sure thing, we cannot pick Congressman Hastings.
Congressional District 21
Cesar Henao
Cesar Henao, entered this race against entrenched Congressman Ted Deutch as an independent after Republican Anna Trujillo dropped out. In this D+22 district, somewhat altered from the old CD19 in which both Ed Lynch and Joe Budd failed to defeat Deutch, Cesar is an insurgent candidate drawing on the Hispanic community as well as the conservative grassroots to shake things up. As NPA, he has been denied access to some venues such as the League of Women Voters forum, but is gathering attention through hard work and a growing volunteer network. With the advantage of name ID, party identification, money and the power of the incumbency, the liberal Deutch (0% rating from ACU) is favored, but Cesar will rattle the cage. Cesar is an attractive candidate and if he does not prevail, we expect to see more of him in future contests.
Congressional District 22
Adam Hasner
Much of this district contains the old CD22 which Allen West won in 2010, and is a pick-up target of the national Democrats – easier now that the district has become D+9. Adam Hasner, was a reliable conservative during his tenure in the Florida House and as majority leader. Originally running for the Senate in a crowded primary field (and winning the CPAC straw poll), he reached out to South Florida 912 and other grassroots early with his small government message. He would repeal and replace Obamacare, work to remove the excessive regulatory environment that is crushing small business, and reform the tax code. His opponent, former WPB Mayor Lois Frankel, strongly supports the Obama agenda and believes the way to improve the economy is more government spending on “infrastructure” and green technology. As with Allen West, helping elect Adam Hasner should be a key goal for county Conservatives.
State Senate – only one will be on your ballot:
Senate District 25
Melanie Peterson
Melanie Peterson, a Realtor specializing in equestrian properties and a board member of the western PBC Farm Bureau, previously held elected office as a Supervisor of the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District and is well suited to the agricultural focus of this western jurisdiction. She favors smaller government, and lower taxes. Her opponent Joe Abruzzo, currently a state House member, has garnered some support among the local business community, but was given a 6/100 score by the ACU on his votes in 2011. Although he holds an advantage in this D+12 district, Ms. Peterson is a well organized insurgent and successfully defeated a primary opponent supported by the party and most of the GOP insiders. A fresh conservative face without the baggage that comes from insider support is just what we need for this new sprawling district.
Senate District 27 This race was decided in the August primary when Jeff Clemens defeated Mack Bernard by a handfull of votes. As there is a write-in candidate for the position, the race will appear on the November ballot but for all practical purposes Jeff Clemens will hold this seat until the next election in 2016. As Mr. Clemens voting record as a legislator has been a bit more progressive than we like, we cannot “pick” him for this race. He has pledged to represent all the citizens in his district though, so we will follow his future votes with an open mind.
Senate District 32
Joe Negron
With a 100% rating from the ACU, Joe Negron has been a conservative leader in the Florida Legislature since his election to the House in 2000. He sponsored the “vouchers for all” plan for education savings accounts, and was the only member of the PBC delegation to oppose Adam Putnam’s tax credits for green energy companies described by Americans for Prosperity as the “crony energy bill”. His opponent, Ray D’Amiano is a token Democrat in the race who has not raised any money nor mounted any kind of campaign that we can detect.
Senate District 34
Ellyn Bogdanoff
Ellyn Bogdanoff was elected to the Senate in 2010 after 8 years in the House. An attorney and insurance expert, in the 2012 session she supported the budget, school vouchers, student led prayer and private prisons. The ACU gave her a 100% rating for her votes in 2011, compared to a 0% for her opponent Maria Sachs. In the 2011 session, Ellyn Bogdanoff was a key leader in passing the “Smart Cap” bill that put Amendment 3 on the ballot. If passed by the voters, it will limit future growth in the state budget to a measure tied to inflation and population growth. Ms. Sachs is also a sitting Senator elected in 2010 after 4 years in the house, and although occasionally at odds with her caucus, votes reliably Democrat. In the last session she opposed the redistricting plan, school vouchers, state employee drug testing, and private correctional facilities. Although some of our members supported Ms. Bogdanoff’s primary opponent, we all agree that she is the only conservative and the best choice in the current race.
State House – only one will be on your ballot:
House District 81
James O’Hara
District 81 is large and sprawling, occupying much of the land area of the western county and the cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay. It is also very Democrat, whose registered voters exceed Republicans by a 2 to 1 margin. James O’Hara, a conservative small business owner, who believes in lower taxes, decreased regulation and limited government, would be a positive addition to our county delegation. He has reached out to SF912 and the tea party since early in the campaign and has gathered supporters. His opponent Kevin Rader, after jumping between two Senate races and finally challenging and defeating incumbent Steve Perman, is attempting to return to an area he represented in 2008. He doesn’t appear to be campaigning based on issues as the Rader website is content-free, yet he has amassed a $140K war chest. Although obviously a long-shot, James O’Hara best represents our principles and values.
House District 82
Mary Lynn Magar
Mary Lynn Magar, VP and General Manager of Heart Care Imaging and the Martin County State Committeewoman, won the Republican primary with 42% of the vote in a five way race. Opposed by a token write-in candidate that had the effect of closing the primary, she appears on the November ballot but effectively won the seat in August.
House District 85
Pat Rooney
Pat Rooney, brother of Congressman Tom Rooney, won election to the House in 2010, representing the northeastern part of the county, including the coastal area from Palm Beach to the county line. The new district stretches farther inland and is less Republican. President of the PB Kennel Club and several restaurants bearing his name, he understands small business and the challenges it faces in this economic and regulatory climate. Receiving a 100% rating from the ACU, Pat has been an occasional visitor to 912 and tea party events and he and his staff have been very responsive to questions about pending bills and other matters. In the last session, he voted for redistricting, the budget, school vouchers, student-led prayer in the schools, the prohibition on court decsions based on foreign laws. His opponent, David Lutrin, is a big government Democrat who believes the Governor has harmed Florida by rejecting Federal stimulus funds, and that Republicans are trying to restrict voting rights. Mr. Lutrin has been endorsed by SEIU, the Teamsters, Florida AFL-CIO, CTA, FEA and Prgressive Democrats of America. There couldn’t be a clearer choice.
House District 86
Tami Donnally
Tami Donnally, a longtime 912 member, has been consistent in her conservative message, seeking job creation through lower taxes and fewer regulations, and a balanced budget with public safety and education a priority. She came close to defeating Joe Abruzzo in district 85 in 2010 and this time is facing a much more liberal Mark Pafford in a newly drawn district where both of them are competing for voters who don’t know them. Both candidates have made an effort to interact with the grassroots, and Mark Pafford, a legislator since 2008, even walked into the lion’s den and addressed the Tax Day Tea Party Rally in Wellington this year. Nevertheless, his progressive policies, which have won him the endorsement of most of the unions, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club and Progressive Democrats of America, give us pause. In the last session he voted against school vouchers, the budget, drug testing and the prohibition on courts using foreign laws. As in district 85, this is a clear choice.
House District 89
Bill Hagar
Bill Hager, first elected in 2010, is President of Insurance Metrics Corporation, and an entrepreneur who co-founded the Boca technology incubator Cenetec, Inc. This business background is valuable in the legislature as governments at all levels try to right the economic ship. With a 100% rating from ACU on the 25 votes they track, in the last session he voted for the budget, school vouchers, prohibition on foreign laws, and random drug testing. His opponent, Tom Gustafson, joined the race late when the Democrats needed to replace Pamela Goodman who dropped out. Mr. Gustafson is a past Speaker of the Florida House and served in the Legislature from 1976 to 1990. More recently he has been a Director in several academic institutions. As his website speaks of his priorities in only general terms, it is hard to say whether he would march in lockstep with his caucus. Returning Bill Hagar to Tallahassee seems to us a better bet.
House District 90
Sean Kasper
District 90 was put together from the fragments of 4 previous districts, and although incumbent Lori Berman has represented about a quarter of it, many of the voters probably consider it an open seat. Sean Kasper is a newcomer to politics, and at age 24, getting an early start. He is conservative in viewpoint, encourages fiscal restraint and free market solutions. His opponent was first elected in 2010, and has voted a reliable no to every bill introduced by Republicans, including the budget, redistricting, school vouchers, drug testing, student led prayer, and would not prohibit the application of foreign laws in our court system or third trimester abortion. Sean Kasper is enthusiastic but untried, and is learning about state government and its issues as he goes along. Although a very long shot given the demographics, we applaud Sean for deciding to run. There are too many seats in Democrat districts that go unchallenged, and the GOP does little to encourage those who are not likely winners.
State Attorney
Dina Keever
Republican Dina Keever decided to seek this office after it appeared that Democrat Dave Aronberg, who was implicated in questionable tactics to force the incumbent out and prevent interested candidates from stepping up to challenge him, would be unchallenged. She has excellent credentials and experience as a prosecutor, and has indicated a desire to advance the fight against corruption that her predecessor (and supporter) Michael McAuliffe started with the ethics Grand Jury and the indictment of Jeff Koons. Many of us who worked on the ordinances that led to the Inspector General and Ethics Commission are concerned that years of progress could be turned back if Mr. Aronberg wins the office, given the allegations made against him as documented in the Palm Beach Post. While it may be proven that no laws were broken, a State Attorney with less than an impeccable reputation for fairness, integrity and impartiality would be unacceptable. Either Dina Keever or Independent candidate Robert Gershman, also an accomplished litigator, would pass this test. Additionally, Mr. Aronberg has little courtroom experience. In spite of the demographics which favor Democrats in county-wide elections, Ms. Keever has been gathering endorsements and momentum, and we feel she has a better chance than Mr. Gershman to prevail.
Tax Collector
Anne Gannon
Serving as Tax Collector since her election in 2006, Anne Gannon won 87% of the vote in the Democrat primary, which was closed by the presence of a write-in candidate. Although appearing on the November ballot for this reason, she effectively won her re-election in August. Although a partisan Democrat, the office is not political and Ms. Gannon has done a good job with the difficult acquisition of the drivers license function and maintains her independence from the county wherever it can improve efficiency and save the taxpayer money.
Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservaton group 2
Stephen Jara
The Soil and Water Conservation District’s mission is to educate local land users, residents and businesses on ways to protect our natural resources, promote best management practices and conserve, improve and sustain the environment. Supervisors are elected county-wide. The group 2 incumbent Drew Martin is a Democrat, climate change activist with the Sierra Club and the Everglades Coalition. He was also a member of the Progessive Democrats of America steering committee. Stephen Jara is a Realtor, rancher and tree farmer, and is a manager of Golf Courses. He has expertise in equine and tree nursery operations and active in the community, serving on various boards. A businessman, he does not appear to have an ideological agenda and thus we think he would be a better pick for this position.

County Commission – one or none will be on your ballot:
County Commission District 1
Hal Valeche
Republican Hal Valeche is a former Navy fighter pilot, financial consultant, former Palm Beach Gardens Councilman, and congressional candidate. He advocates lower taxes and responsible spending, and was one of the original members of the TAB coalition. While he opposes privatization of Palm Tran, he supports the Singer Island Groin proposal and implementing a “smart cap” (TABOR) at the county level. His opponent, Palm Beach Gardens Mayor and Democrat David Levy, sees himself as a budget hawk also and has overseen responsible budgets in the city. He would oppose the Groin proposal for its technical problems, “smart cap” as tying the hands of government, but has an open mind about privatization. The Gardens recently finished a protracted fight with the Police and Fire unions, ending with some pension takeaways. Some of these same unions are now supporting his opponent. On balance, either candidate would bring some good attributes to the job, but we give the nod to Hal Valeche for his history of opposition to out of control spending at the county level during the bubble years.
County Commission District 3
Shelley Vana
Incumbent Commissioner, Democrat Shelley Vana was elected to the County Commission in 2008, after serving six years in the Florida House. She defeated Bob Kanjian who had been appointed by Charlie Crist when the previous occupant of the seat, Warren Newell was given a 5 year prison term. A teacher in the Palm Beach School system for 24 years, she also served as President of the Classroom Teacher’s Association. Her opponent Cliff Montross, at age 85, has been an unsuccessful candidate for County Sheriff in 2004, County Commissioner in 2008, and Mayor of Boynton in 2010. He has not mounted much of a campaign, lacks a web presence, does not use email, and has not raised any money. With Shelley Vana, what you see is what you get. Although we don’t always agree with her, particularly on the budget, she is usually willing to listen to opposing points of view and seek common ground.
County Commission District 5
Paul Tocker
County Commission District 5 has been the personal fiefdom of 20 year veteran Burt Aaronson, who is loved by his loyal district where there are 2.2 Democrats for every Republican and in recent years he never won with less than 75% of the vote. Now with term limits ending this reign, the leading contender is his senior assistant, Mary Lou Berger. While over time she will define her own role and she is probably a very nice person, it will be hard not seeing the ghost of Burt hovering over the dais. With 5 weeks to go until the election, the “Issues” page on her website still says “Coming Soon”. Since the Commissioner was never a fan of cutting spending or lowering tax rates, there has never been a meeting of the minds between him and South Florida 912. Consequently, we cannot support his hand-picked successor for the job. Which brings us to Republican Paul Tocker.. Paul is a newcomer to PBC politics and faces significant obstacles, including the mentioned lack of Republicans in the district, being outspent 100 to 1, and climbing the steep learning curve of county issues and history in which his opponent is the knowledgeable insider. With odds like these it takes courage and determination to mount a challenge, and we applaud him for it. No race in Palm Beach County should be conceded without a fight, and conservative, responsible, pro-growth Paul Tocker is carrying our flag.
School Board – district 1 only
School Board District 1
Christine Jax
The School Board is the policy making body for a sprawling district with over 20,000 employees and a budget of $2.3B. As with anything that size, there are multiple interest groups with their own agendas, such as the Superintendent and his staff, the teachers, the custodial and office employees, the vendors, the federal and state government, and of course the taxpayers. A good policy maker should walk among these groups with the big picture in mind. Christine Jax, has this skill. She is an educational policy expert with serious experience as the Minnesota Commissioner of Education, and a published thought leader, yet independent of local influence. Her opponent, former principal Michael Murgio, has excellent credentials, but his support comes primarily from within the system, including the Classroom Teachers Association and former superintendents and principals. Christine Jax, in our view, could bring a new perspective to a system that needs fresh thinking and an independent hand. With school quality cited by many experts as an impediment to economic growth in Palm Beach County, we need an outsider like Christine Jax to shake things up.
Judicial Retention – vote yes to retain in office:
Appointed by Democrat Governor Lawten Chiles, these three activist judges, Fred R. Lewis, Barbara J. Pariente, and Peggy A. Quince were instrumental in striking down school choice, preventing a public vote on Obamacare, and expanding government’s power to seize private property, among other things extensively documented at restorejustice2012.com.
We found little that concerns us about the two appellate judges and therefore support their retention without condition.
Supreme Court Justice
Fred R. Lewis
Supreme Court Justice
Barbara J. Pariente
Supreme Court Justice
Peggy A. Quince
4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge
Burton C. Conner
4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge
Carole Y. Taylor
Special Districts – on ballot only within the districts:
Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District Seat 5
Tom Thayer
The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District was created by a special act of the Florida Legislature in 1974 for the purpose of providing outstanding public beaches and parks for local residents. REC member Tom Thayer and DEC member Stephen Engel are competing for this open seat. Long active in the community, Thayer owns a real estate brokerage and is former chairman of the Boca Code Enforcement Board and vice chairman of the Marine Advisory and Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla commander. Engel, an advertising executive is a newcomer to Boca Raton and doesn’t have Thayer’s history with the issues facing the district.
Indian Trail Improvement District seat 2 The responsibilities of Indian Trail Improvement District include reclaiming the lands within its boundaries for water control and water supply purposes and protecting the land from the effects of water by means of the construction and maintenance of canals and other drainage works and improvements. Incumbent Republican Carlos Enriquez, a pilot for FPL, has done extensive community work through the Acreage Landowners Association, and Indian Trail’s 2006 Planning Committee. He sees the recent flooding from Isaac as a learning experience that will help them plan for future storms. He is being challenged by Democrat Gary Dunkley who has been critical of the ITID repsonse to the recent flooding and would pay better attention to maintenance and staff training.. Our leadership team was split on this seat and so we offer no pick.
Indian Trail Improvement District seat 4 The responsibilities of Indian Trail Improvement District include reclaiming the lands within its boundaries for water control and water supply purposes and protecting the land from the effects of water by means of the construction and maintenance of canals and other drainage works and improvements. Incumbent Democrat Michelle Damone is the public face of the District. Very knowledgeable, she wrote a Bizpac review article on SR7 extension critical of Jeri Muoio. She is being challenged by Democrat Kenneth Hendrick who has been critical about the Isaac response, claiming that a pre-storm draw-down should have been done. Our leadership team was split on this seat and so we offer no pick.
Northern Improvement District Seat 4 The NPBCID provides a range of services, including storm water control, landscaping and maintenance of canals, waterways and lakes within its jurisdiction. Democrat John Cohen is an attorney, ex-judge and very involved with community organizations including the Salvation Army, Club 100 and the League of Women Voters. NPA Peter Stein is a banker, HOA officer and Red Cross Volunteer. Neither would seem to have much experience that directly bears on water management or environment issues. Our leadership team has little knowledge of either of these candidates so we offer no pick.
Port of Palm Beach Group 1
Wayne Richards
Incumbent Democrat Wayne Richards, in office since 2003, is an attorney and mechanical engineer, and is involved in the community, serving on many boards.
Republican George Black, with a much less impressive resume, has not defined his plans in any great detail. Consequently, we do not see the value proposition for defeating the incumbent.
Port of Palm Beach Group 3
Jean Enright
Incumbent Democrat Jean Enright appears on the ballot with a write-in challenge only, and will likely be the group 3 Port Commissioner for four more years.
Ballot Amendments
Amendment Our Choice Rationale
1 – Health Care Services YES

This amendment would safeguard the rights of individuals and employers to make their own health care choices, including direct payment for services , and prohibit the mandate to purchase health insurance.

A YES vote on this amendment indicates opposition to the individual mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) and would conflict with Federal Law as upheld by the Supreme Court. Whether it would have practical effect under the 10th Amendment is open to question, but at the very least it would reflect public opinion on the issue. We vote YES.

2 – Veterans Disabled Due to Combat Injury; Homestead Property Tax Discount YES

This amendment broadens the class of veterans who are eligible for discounts on property taxes under a statute already in effect. The current statute provides a discount to combat-disabled veterans over 65 years of age who own homestead property in an amount equal to their percentage of disability.

A YES vote removes the somewhat arbitrary condition in the existing statute that the subject combat-disabled veteran must have been a Florida resident when they originally ENTERED the military.

In general we are against complicating the tax rules to favor any group. In this case though, the exemption is already on the books and this amendment fixes an arbitrary limitation. We vote YES.

3 – State Government Revenue Limitation YES

Also known as “Smart Cap”, this amendment would impose a limit on the collection of state revenue based on inflation and population growth, rather than the current limitation based on personal income. This is similar to the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” (TABOR) implemented in some other states, but avoids the drawbacks of the Colorado system that worsened the effect of economic downturns. It does this by adjusting the limit based on last years cap rather than last year’s revenue, and allows the Legislature to override the limit by a supermajority vote.

A YES vote would implement the limitations, phased in over a period of years starting in 2014. Limiting revenue based on objective measures of economic activity would prevent growth in the size of government relative to the economy. Because of this, it is opposed by public employee unions and liberal interest groups such as the AARP and League of Women Voters.

If passed, this amendment will be very effective in limiting the growth in government, a key conservative principle. We vote an emphatic YES.

4 – Property Tax Limitations; Property Value Decline; Reduction for Non Homestead Assesment Increases; Delay of Scheduled Repeal NO

This amendment would modify the law defining the “save our homes” provision that defines the allowable increase in property valuation in a single year as follows: 1) If the value of the property goes down, the assesment cannot increase (possible under current law to “catch up” with previous increases), 2) limits the increase on non-homestead property to 5% (currently 10%), 3) institutes an additional exemption of up to 50% of the property value for certain newly qualifying exemptions for up to 5 years, and 4) delays until 2023 the planned repeal of the non-homestead exemption now scheduled for 2019.

A YES vote would institute all of the provisions. Equalizing the allowable increase in valuation between homestead and non-homestead property, deviates from a key aspect of the “Save our Homes” provision which provided advantages to individuals with primary residence in the state. This amendment shifts the advantage to businesses, owners of multiple properties, and new homebuyers and will certainly raise the property taxes for most Floridians. Because of the new home provision which could aid the struggling housing market, the Realtors Associations are in support of this Amendment.

We do not think further tinkering with the homestead exemption rules is wise, particularly if it is used to advantage one group over another. Let’s stop picking winners and losers. It would be better to set the rules for all property equally – this makes it worse. We vote NO.

5 – State Courts NO

If passed would amend Article V of the State Constitution relating to the judiciary. First, under current law, the Legislature can repeal a court rule established by the Supreme Court with a 2/3 majority of both Houses. Under this amendment, only a simple majority would be required. Second, under current law the Governor appoints Supreme Court Justices from a list provided by a Judicial Nominating Committee, but under this amendment, the appointment would additionally require confirmation by the Senate before the appointee can take office. Third, the amendment would give access to the confidential files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission to the Speaker of the House for determining whether to proceed with impeachments of a justice or judge.

A YES vote would implement the changes and shift the balance of power between two branches of state government in favor of the Legislature. While confirmation of Justices would be similar to the US Constitution and would likely enhance the checks and balances, letting the Legislature overrule the courts with a simple majority would seem to drastically affect the operation of the state court system.

Dont’ tinker with our system of checks and balances – we vote NO.

6 – Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions; Construction of Abortion Rights YES

This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother. It furthermore prohibits an interpretation of the State Constitution that would grant additional rights to abortion than covered under the US Constitution.

A YES vote would prevent all state funding for abortion, including health insurance plans that provide coverage, unless it would conflict with federal law.

Abortion is an issues that almost equally divides us. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for something they consider immoral, within limits. We vote YES.

8 – Religious Freedom YES

If passed, this amendment would prevent denial of governmental benefits or funding on the basis of religious identity or belief, except as required by the First Amendment. This would remove an existing prohibition (the 1875 “Blaine Amendment”) against use of public funds to aid churches or other religious institutions, and would likely allow funding for private religious schools./

A YES vote would remove impediments to providing public education funding to private schools based on whether they are religious or secular.

Since this amendment would pave the way for voucher systems usable in religious schools, the education establishment (Florida Education Association, members of the Florida School Board Association and Florida Association of School Administrators) brought suit to remove it from the ballot and won, but existing law allows the Attorney General to rewrite the language within 10 days and she did. These groups can be expected to oppose it in November.

Eliminating Blaine removes a tool that can be used against school choice. We vote YES.

9 – Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouse of Military Veteran or First Responder NO

This amendment would authorize the Legislature to grant full or partial ad valorem property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran or first responder who is killed in the line of duty.

A YES vote would allow the Legislature to implement these additional exemptions to Ad Valorem taxes for another “special class” of citizen. Since the surviving spouses of military and first responders killed in action are already compensated in various ways, through insurance and pension payments, adding complexity to the rules for tax exemption in this way would seem unusual.

We oppose complicating the tax rules to advantage one group over another and vote NO.

10 – Tangible Personal Property Exemption YES

If passed, this amendment would 1) extend the tangible personal property tax (paid by businesses) exemption to $50,000, and 2) authorize counties or municipalities to grant additional tangible tax exemptions by ordinance.

A YES vote will increase the exemption.

Reducing the burden on small business promotes economic growth. We vote YES.

11 – Additional Homestead Exemption; Low-Income Seniors who Maintain Long-Term Residency on Property NO

This would authorize the Legislature to allow counties and municipalities to grant ad-valorem tax exemptions up to the assessed value of a homestead property worth less than $250,000 if the owner has owned it for more than 25 years, is 65 years of age or older, and has a “low income” as defined by general law.

A YES vote allows counties and municipalities to perform additional social engineering on their tax base.

We have nothing against poor seniors, but oppose complicating the tax rules to advance social goals and vote NO.

12 – Appointment of Student Body President to Board of Governors of the State University System NO PICK

This amendment would require the Board of Governors of the State University System to create a council of student body presidents, whose chairman would then become the student member of the Board of Governors. Under current law, that seat is held by the president of the Florida Student Association.

A YES vote would implement the changes.

We have no pick on this amendment, with insufficient information about the pros and cons.

PBC 1 – Allow Slot Machines to be Placed at Licensed Pari-Mutuel Facilities NO PICK

If passed, this would allow slot machines at licensed pari-mutuel facilities in the county (currently only the Palm Beach Kennel Club), subject to approval by the state and expiration of the exclusive agreement between the state and the Seminole tribe which expires in July 2015. Currently, AG Pam Bondi has issued an opinion that slots can only be approved in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Economic benefit to the county is estimated at $1.8M.

A YES vote would register approval by the voters in the county, enabling the county delegation to pursue legislative approval to proceed. There would be not slots in the county before 2015 at the earliest.

We have no consensus on this amendment, with some opposed to gaming expansion of any kind, others seeing the disadvantage that a local business has in competing with the Broward and Dade facilities without it. If you are not opposed to gaming, you should consider a yes vote. We report, you decide.

PBC 2 – Continue to Provide Tax Exemptions for New or Expanding Businesses in the County YES

If passed, this would extend the current authority of the county to provide property tax exemptions to new or expanding businesses beyond the August 2014 expiration.

A YES vote will extend the current county authority beyond 2014.

This tool is already available to the county and is a preferable economic development incentive to direct grants, so we vote YES.

Fired up and ready to go!

Shannon Armstrong, founder, South Florida 912, kicked off the meeting outlining the very full agenda and modifications. We were waiting for an honor guard from PBC Fire/Rescue to arrive so we held off on our prayer, pledge and Star-Spangled Banner until later in the program. Meanwhile, leader Jason Shields played taps on his trumpet.

First up was member Dominique Feldman who is our resident Social Media expert. She led a brief interactive discussion on FB and said she’d be offering another class on how to use FB and Twitter for “social media banking”. So watch the website for her next class which should be in the next couple of weeks.

Next up was Joe Madej, of Palm Beach County Tea Party. Joe has been leading the Tea Party’s effort to sign up poll-watchers and he encouraged folks to sign-up at the meeting.

Jim Hunter, leader, sang a beautiful rendition of a song from “Act of Valor”.

Fred Scheibl, leader, spoke to two topics. First – he covered his analysis of the upcoming electorate and the reach we’ve had with our South Florida 912 Leaders’ picks in 2010 and in the August 2012 primary elections. We can use this to good effect in the vital November 2012 elections. Next, Fred provided an overview of the FL State and PBC Amendments that will appear on the ballot. They are fairly complex, as are the implications of a Yes vote. He encouraged our members to get educated. Leaders’ picks on the amendments will come later.

We had two speakers to address the PBC Slot Machine amendment. Mat Forrest of the Coalition for More Jobs, Better Schools, A Stronger Economy spoke on behalf of the amendment, and Virginia Brooks, Chairperson of the PBC Faith and Freedom Coalition spoke against. Both made compelling cases and it will be difficult for many to make up their minds on this amendment.

By now it was clear that our PBC Fire/Rescue team was busy doing their jobs – so Doug Armstrong, co-founder, led us in an Invocation, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Barry Carson, member, led us in the Star Spangled Banner. And we commenced with our 9/11 Memorial.

Dennis Lipp, leader, produced a heart-wrenching 9/11 memorial video. As many wiped away their tears, Shannon Armstrong, co-founder, segued into why the group is called 912 – stressing the unity the country felt on the day after 9/11. She went through our Mission and Principles and Values and listed all of the ways in which we have to get involved.

Tami Donnally, candidate for FL House District 86, continued, personalizing the ways people could help her campaign or any of the other local campaigns. She stressed that one needn’t live in her district to help. Palm Beach County needs conservative legislators and district boundaries aren’t the important thing – it’s getting these folks to Tallahassee. Melanie Peterson, candidate for FL Senate District 25 echoed a lot of Tami’s sentiments and discussed the vital role agricultural has in Palm Beach County’s economy and how she brings experience not addressed by current leadership.

By now we were running quite late but had time for James O’Hara, candidate for FL House district 81 and Cesar Henao, candidate for Congress District 21 – running against Ted Deutch. Both reiterated the importance of helping the candidates with time and money and spreading the word about their candidacies.

Jim Hunter regaled us with another song and Jason Shields held the 50:50. Janeen Capizola won and donated her winnings to the candidates. Thank you Janeen.

And thanks to all of the South Florida 912 members who helped set up and break down the room.

Now – go out there and make a difference!

Some pictures:

Victory HQ Grand Opening

Join the PBRC for the Grand Opening of the Victory Headquarters for Romney with special guests Congressman Allen West and candidate Adam Hasner.

Allen West is looking for volunteers in north PBC

For those of you looking to work on a campaign – this is to help with Allen West campaign mailings in Jupiter – not a 912 sponsored activity.  It will be ongoing until November 1.

Help Allen West with Mailings

Vote and tell your friends and Action committee meeting Monday Aug 20th


Dear Patriots

Please get out and vote there are a number of primaries going on in our area that are Important.
If you need some help please check out the leaders pics on the main website at

get out there early and call a friend to keep them accountable to vote as well!

Coming next Monday night we are meeting to have an action and leadership committee sign up and commit to bring us forward to the election in Novemeber.

If you want to be a part of this please email me and I can send you the meeting info. It will be next Monday night at 7pm.
Any one willing to get active and committed to working hard thru this Novemeber election cycle please email me ASAP Shannon @Southflorida912.org

Vote and tell others on Facebook and Twitter!

God Bless

Shannon and Doug Armstrong

Early voting for the August 14th Primary begins tomorrow, Saturday August 4th!

Early voting for the August 14th Primary begins tomorrow, Saturday August 4th.  Hopefully – you’ve had a chance to meet the candidates and review them in our Voters’ Guide.  There still remain a few opportunities to interact with candidates early next week at two joint efforts between South Florida 912 and  the Jupiter/PBG Chapter of the Palm Beach County Tea Party – Fl District 82 Forum and Senate Candidate Dave Weldon on Monday, and at the Boca Raton Chapter Candidate Round Up on Tuesday.

Early voting times are from Saturday, August 4th through Saturday, August 11th from 10am to 6pm Daily.

See the Early Voting page for the early voting locations and driving directions. There are 12 locations so there’s no excuse – go to whichever one is convenient for you!  As you know – during early voting you can vote anywhere in the county.

You should have already received your voter registration card as well as sample ballots.  If you didn’t receive a new card – look up your precinct at the Precinct Finder  which will also bring up a link to your sample ballot.  Please recall that there are Open Primaries and Non-Partisan races in which No Party Affiliation registered voters can participate.  So check out the tool no matter your affiliation.

It is still possible to request or pick up an Absentee Ballot – see the Absentee Ballot information page of the Supervisor of Elections on how to do so.

There are a lot of important non partisan elections on the ballot that affect you and your family!  

Please Vote – even if you don’t usually participate in primaries!

Allen West at Lincoln Day Dinner

Great Stuff. Video by Michele Kirk at Bizpacreview.com

County GOP Picnic Draws Assortment of Candidates and Enthusiasts

Quite a few 912 and Tea Party members were sighted among the 120 or so attendees at the PBCGOP picnic today in John Prince Park, in spite of the competition from the Tea Party Convention in Daytona and the AFP Conference in DC. The food was good and the networking was worth the visit, but the program was somewhat chaotic.

In addition to the local luminaries – Congressmen Allen West and Tom Rooney, Florida House members Bill Hager and Pat Rooney, and former Senator and candidate George LeMieux, we were joined by Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and a surrogate for Texas Governor Rick Perry, his son Griffin.

Senator Santorum gave a rousing speech (in my opinion), focused on some of the issues that have been minimized in the campaign so far. These include the importance of the family in restoring America to greatness, and the importance of bringing back viable manufacturing to this country to restore the position of the middle class. Unfortunately, by the time the Senator spoke much of the crowd had drifted away and many of those who were left continued talking among themselves and hardly paid attention to the speech. This seemed rude to me, but when the Senator had finished it got worse. The speakers that followed him had to shout to be heard and were ignored by most of the crowd. If this is the way the Republican Party of Palm Beach treats its candidates then we are in for a rough 2012 indeed. Nothing was done by the organizers to restore decorum to the gathering.

This was a shame as two very interesting candidates for the seat being vacated by Bill Snyder (FH82) introduced themselves near the end. Calvin Turnquist and MaryLynn Magar are new on the scene and both seem to have a lot to offer. We also got to see Anna Trujillo who is running for Ted Deutch’s CD19 seat, and the candidates for County Commission district 1, Hal Valeche and Laura Hanley, and Senate 25 candidate Mike Lameyer. Others who were present, including Albert Key and Karen Harrington did not speak, probably because it got to the point that very few were even listening.

Besides the rudeness of the crowd, another troubling thing was the way Joe Budd was refused the opportunity to tell the crowd about the Herman Cain PBC Convention Center event in a little more than a week. “NO SURROGATES” said chairman Dinerstein. Interesting – what was Griffen Perry, chopped liver? I guess there must be a rule exception for relatives of candidates.

Herman Cain is in town on 11/16 for several events, including a $50 fundraiser at the Convention Center expected to bring out the grassroots volunteers before he goes over to the island for the big bucks. This might have been of interest to the attendees, and the appearance of any Presidential candidate in Palm Beach County should be noted. “NO EXCEPTIONS”, we have to stay neutral says the chairman. In the grassroots universe, educating people about candidates is what we do. The local Republican party has a different mission and different rules. This is one reason that grassroots groups like the Tea Party and 912 have arisen – the “establishment” is not always your friend.

Here’s a few pictures of the event.

Heritage Action for America Scores our Congressmen

Heritage Action for America, a sister organization to The Heritage Foundation, produces a congressional scorecard for all Senators and Representatives, based on the bills they sponsor as well as how they voted on those bills of particular interest to conservatives.

In the most recent scorecard, there were 19 Senate bills and 30 House bills tracked. Of our local delegation of 5 Congressmen and our US Senators, Marco Rubio garnered the highest score of 93 (of 100), followed by Allen West with 74 and Tom Rooney with 63. The Democrats were far behind with Bill Nelson and Alcee Hastings tied at 10, Ted Deutch at 7, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz bringing up the rear with a score of 4 out of 100.

All the scores for Florida can be found at Heritage Action for America. Click on the names of the Congressman to see how they voted on the relevant bills.

Marco Rubio’s votes aligned with Heritage on 18 of the 19 bills. The one where he differed was “S2-1011, Undermine Ability of Senators to Block Unanimous Consent: Change the rules of the Senate to undermine the ability of Senators to prevent legislation from passing by unanimous consent (i.e., eliminates so-called “secret holds”).” He voted yes.

Allen West aligned on 23 of the 30 House bills, differing on H103, H143, H384, H555, H633, H677, and H690. The last two were involved with the debt limit increase deal which the Congressman supported but Heritage did not.

Tom Rooney aligned on 20 of the 30, differing on H103, H143, H179, H275, H384, H424, H455, H491, H677 and H690.

Click on the bill numbers for the Heritage explanation of the votes.

Allen West—9 Step Action Plan

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