Orange County Commission packs the Charter Review Committee with Textgate cronies

Orange County Commission packs the Charter Review Committee with Textgate cronies

Quote of the Week: "Putting Fred Brummer on the Charter Review Commission is like handing your car keys to an auto thief. He led the commissioners who broke the county charter to defeat earned sick time, and, according to the state attorney's Textgate investigation, he then broke the open records law to try and cover it up. It's also discouraging that Mayor Jacobs has appointed a pair of her own Textgate conspirators to this board." -- Organize Now director Stephanie Porta

Just like in every low-budget horror movie involving lobbyists walking into the summer-camp woods, it wasn't exactly unexpected that last week's announcement of the 2016 Orange County Charter Review Commission would be full of screams and eye-rolls. The Orange County Board of County Commissioners, a very sweet gaggle of (mostly) conservative and/or inept bureaucrats, had already been chiseling away at the law of the land (or the Orange County Charter) for the better part of last year, at least when it wasn't busy writing checks to the state attorney's office for fraudulent handling of public records in the name of Textgate. Really, who wants a book of laws when those laws don't support your back-room ambitions? Also, transparency is for dummies.

$500: Amount of fine levied against each Orange County Commissioner and Mayor Teresa Jacobs for the deletion of public records on private text and email accounts

While some of the picks listed in the Jan. 22 announcement don't really cock a quizzical brow, especially the one or two that have already been seated on the commission or the ones that come from newly elected District 6 Commissioner Victoria Siplin, many of the rest come off like a recruitment exercise for the kind of secret government we've grown accustomed to in the County of Orange, which suspiciously has fewer oranges these days than it does sprawling strip malls and gaping controversies. Let's highlight a few of our favorites from the roll call, shall we?

Mayor Teresa Jacobs went whole hog on her choices, naming actual Textgate marionette artists as her three picks. There was Stina D'Uva, a lobbyist and Jacobs supporter who was among those who texted her at the Sept. 11, 2012, board meeting that spawned Textgate. According to, "Jacobs also exchanged messages on Sept. 11 with Stina D'Uva, president of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce and a political supporter, telling D'Uva in one text: 'I don't say it often enough but I am very grateful for your friendship.'" Seems perfectly aboveboard. Then there's Jose Fernandez, the president and founding partner of Florida Compass Group and a man who, according to his company's website, "is recognized as one of Florida's leading government regulatory experts." That should be helpful! Except he's also served on the boards of a lot of stuffy organizations that don't support the middle class, including the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. He's "one of the most influential persons in Central Florida," the website brags.

15: Number of people appointed to the 2016 Orange County Charter Review Commission; three by the mayor, two by each commissioner

But worst, at least on Jacobs' cheerleading team, is the appointment of Kevin Shaughnessy, the Disney attorney who was texting information to Jacobs and Co. during the Sept. 11, 2012, board meeting, because the actual board had no idea how to handle the earned sick time question. He's the one to whom Jacobs texted the infamous "This is so bizarre. Pls help me with a written explanation of my position. This is most distressful to me" missive on that terrible day.

There are plenty of other rocks to throw, though. Key among them is the appointment of terrible, horrible, no-good Fred Brummer to the commission now that he's been termed out and replaced. Brummer, you'll recall, has no regard for the rule of the charter or county law, to the degree that he, in his laming of ducking, tried to rewrite the rules – or have some Republican operative rewrite them for him – to act out personal grudges, and actually succeeded on some levels.

Also making the list were the formerly appointed clerk of courts Eddie Fernandez, who lost to outgoing Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell last year after a hilarious stink in which Fernandez supporter and local online noisemaker Randy Ross went public saying that Moore Russell spent all of her time "making babies" and not leading. (Ross was handed six felony insurance fraud charges on Jan. 23, by the way. Carry on.)

A personal favorite is Mikaela Nix, who, if the Internet is to be believed (it is) runs a "fathers' rights" law firm because she was a "daddy's girl." Oh, God. It's called It really is. Cheryl Moore is in, and why wouldn't she be? Moore just helped organize a Jan. 16 appearance by lovable government-hater Grover Norquist in Orlando. Red Grover, Red Grover, send Cheryl on over. Oh, and GrayRobinson attorney Matthew Klein, who, in addition to hosting Iran/Nazi memes on his Fox News-y Facebook page, reportedly (via local activist Nicole Varma) did something fishy at the University of Florida in 2007 involving petitioners, a newspaper ad and slamming Palestine. But who cares, right? It's only your shadow government at work.

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