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Monday, February 24, 2014

Breaking: Angry Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer proposes charter amendment increasing number of districts, abolishing tax collector's office

Posted on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 11:41 AM

(Original illustration by Plinio Marcos Pinto)

Woah, somebody spent his whole weekend binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix for municipal strategy. Either that, or stodgy old Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer, whom everyone hates, just woke up in a bad mood and decided it was time to compose the following missive – with attached proposed ordinance and charter amendment (see below) – and blast it out to his coworkers. Brummer, it appears, would like to overhaul the entirety of county governance, mandating term limits, making all positions nonpartisan (there's currently an initiative by Democrats to do the opposite), making public initiatives (like the sick-time fight that brought us textgate) seemingly more difficult by (among other things) cutting the time for petitioning in half, and, of course, getting rid of Tax Collector Scott Randolph's office entirely by sweeping it up into regular county appointments. He's trying rewrite the whole shebang. Some highlights: On more districts:
"Why We Need It: Orange County has doubled in population since 1986 when the charter was first created (from 600k to 1.2m) and yet we have the same number of county commissioners representing double the number of citizens. This huge increase in citizens per commission district has had the effect of keeping our Board of County Commissioners from reflecting the diversity of our community. The addition of two new county commission districts will reduce the number of citizens each commissioner represents, allowing greater access for citizens to their elected officials. The addition of two new county commission districts, along with an attendant redistricting process that takes into account the diversity of our community, will create greater access for candidates of every background. In particular, the voice of the county’s substantial Hispanic community has been heard through the recent VRA lawsuit. Trial dates for that case are set for this summer. Amending the charter now to create two new districts will be a tremendous show of good faith heading into the trial, and may obviate the need for the trial."
On petition drives:
"Why We Need It:
The county initiative petition process has been steadily politicized, with a rise in initiative petitions funded by narrow, out-of-town special interests and groups with extremist proposals holding hostage essential functions of county government and curtailing the rights of county citizens. The Florida Constitution preempts county governments’ ability to raise the voting standard to 60% for changes to our founding document, as has been done for state constitution initiative petitions, so some rational standards must be implemented to ensure that our founding document is not tampered with for narrow, extreme, or purely political reasons, and to ensure that our community is not subjected to an avalanche of divisive, destructive, and manipulative issues undermining civility and community spirit."
You can read the rest of the Machiavellian drivel in the document below. We reached out for comment from political target Tax Collector Scott Randolph, and he referenced a certain other ridiculous and controversial politician.
"I'm confident that the majority of the county commission is going to reject this Chris Christie style retaliation politics," Randolph says.  "I think the Commission is going to focus on creating good jobs in Orange County and not looking for bridges to close as punishment to those that they have disagreements with."
UPDATED: Organize Now! director Stephanie Porta, who largely led the petition campaign for earned sick time in Orange County, offered the following statement:
"This proposal is so blatantly anti-citizen, I'm shocked that anyone would consider ever putting it in writing. Leave it to a Republican County Commissioner who is on his way out with no future in politics to sabotage local voting rights and democracy for all of Orange County.The message this memo sends to Orange County citizens is that you have no right to petition your local government and if you do, they will either break the law or change the rules to block you from having a voice. In 2012, for the first time in Orange County's history, citizens successfully petitioned their Orange County government. Unfortunately, Orange County Commissioners like Fred Brummer colluded with special interests to keep Earned Sick Time illegally off the ballot. Is this what we should expect from a Commission that violated its own constitution to illegally silence the voices of 50,000 of its own voters?
I must have missed the fine print of Orange county government that stated freedom and opportunity for all--except those who disagree with us."

The Representative Districts and County Reform Amendment

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