From earlier blog posts:
Florida once had several wise Governors who championed tax reform, enacting a state corporation tax. Rich and powerful corporations howled. Then louche lawmakers caved and carved an exemption big enough for bulldozers and dump trucks to get through by the tens of thousands -- the Limited Liability Company.
- Florida's tax laws are now written to benefit billionaires, who pay no taxes on purchases of more than $5000.
- Their shadowy development companies hide their true ownership and control politicians.
- Their LLCs have been exempted from Florida corporation taxes because they're not corporations, ending the reform that voters and Governor Reuben Askew wrought in a 1971 constitutional amendment.
- They resist paying fair levels of impact fees and property taxes.
- They constantly demand subsidies, even tax holidays, for speculative companies whose owners are unidentified.
- They want more.
- On the November 8, 2022 ballot, St. Johns County's plutocrats are asking you to vote a 15% sales tax increase.
- They want you to tax yourself to pay the bills they've refused to pay.
- Their proposal would exempt luxury purchases from their "PENNY PLAN"
No effort is suggested to reform state tax law -- the Establishment just wants you to pay half a billion dollars over ten years, a penny at a time, hence the developer bailout called the "PENNY PLAN."
They want you to pay for their damm "mistakes" -- admittedly failing to make developers pay,
Was it developer bullies, bumptious billionaires and their ilk who helped persuade Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT and his henchmen to abolish the Florida Department of Community Affairs? Are our governments run by sociopaths, worshipping money? Did abolition of DCA increase the risk of loss of human life in catasstrophic hurricanes like Hurricane Ian, as some 119 drowned dead bodies in Lee County attest? You tell me.
Like the election of former federal lawmen Ben Rich, Sr. in 2004, the election of Krista-Keating-Joseph in 2022 is a sign of the eroding power of corrupt billionaires. It was BoCC Chairman Rich who said that our County's motley invasion of foreign-funded developers required tougher regulations, and that developers were "worse than any carpetbagger."
Time to tell the controlling Establishment and their bossy billionaires to "take two running jumps and go to Hell," in the immortal words of Congressman John Steven McGroarty, quoted by JFK in Profiles in Courage?
The corpulent corporate oligarchs here have a wickedly stupid website, entitled the "PENNY PLAN," arrogantly asking you to raise your taxes by a "penny" to subsidize their extravagant louche lifestyles, and to defraud, mulct and euchre you into paying the bill for HUTSON COMPANIES and its show runner, our unethical State Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON. TRAVIS HUTSON our State Senator, is the estimable chair of the Florida Senate Committee on Regulated Industries, spends his days plumping and pimping for corrupt legislation (two bills vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis), and for a bill (signed into law by DeSantis earlier this year) punishing environmentalists by banning all but farmers from serving on Soil and Water Conservation District Boards. (As Saint Augustine said, "an unjust law is no law at all.")
Presumably patterned after Jacksonville's failed "Better Jacksonville Plan," which broke its promises, St. Johns County Establishment's "PENNY PLAN"is a pompous penurious and pitiful approach to public policy by porcine politicians, either misguided or in hock to DAVID HUTSON, a half-a-billionaire whose half-baked ideas find their way into law in this corrupt County and State,
HUTSON's satellites' misguided "PENNY PLAN" is only half-baked, but is good for a laugh.
It is laughable, promising to nickel and dime you with higher taxes with campaign promises to spend it on infrastructure the developers have stiffed us on,
I've got a plan: Developers need to pay their damn taxes and impact fees. No more malarkey. Commissioners need to sit up straight, do their doggone jobs, or find another hobby,.
Commissioners only just raised the millage rate for property taxes a total of some 12.57% above the rollback rate on September 20, 2022. Enough already! Commissioner Paul Waldron dissented.
With Commissioner Paul Waldron also the sole dissenting vote on the 15% sales tax increase proposal, Establishment Republican St. Johns. County Commissioners I. Henry Dean, Christian Whitehurst, Sarah Arnold and Jeremiah Ray Blocker rubber-stamped this turkey on March 15, 2022, an act of fawning obeisance and ass-kissery to their political patrons, led by devious developer DAVID HUTSON and his son, State Senator TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON, the developers of SilverLeaf. Voters have already sent Blocker to the exit -- rubber-stamping has gone out of style Blocker might as well have a rubber-stamp on his forehead, marked "RETURN TO SENDER."
St. Johns County voters will likely reject the plutocrats' "penny plan," just like We, The People have rejected a host of hare-brained sales tax increases in St. Johns County, and just like voters have rejected around our Nation in recent years.
At least six (six) times before, St. Johns County voters rejected "penny" sales tax increases, in 2008, 2004, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1988 -- the list goes on.
We won't be fooled again.
We won't be fooled by pseudo-slick, deceptive and unfair advertising campaigns, not even those plotted or floor-planned by tedious termagant termite Tallahassee lawyers who write threatening letters to candidates, or by Gainesville bagmen and bundlers under criminal investigation.
Be afraid, be very afraid, dear voters, of what devious developers and ad agencies are spending to pick your pockets of half a billion dollars.
Vote like our future is depending on it.
This is our town and our time. We will make St. Johns County safe for democracy.
Philip M. Stern's classic investigative tome, The Rape of The Taxpayer, engaged me when I was twelve years old. It documented federal tax law, and how it came to be so unfair.
The cool thing about this pompous "penny plan" is that we get to ask County Commissioners why they've not lifted a finger to reform our government, ignoring the 25 proposals of March 15, 2022, the date four out of five Commissioners voted to put this turkey on the ballot. (One of the supporters of the proposed sales tax was defeated in the closed Republican Primary on August 23, 2022 by reformer Krista Keating-Joseph, who takes the oath of office on November 15, 2022. )
Commissioners have done nothing about restoring our rights to speak in non-agenda public comment at the beginning of meetings. They've not established a Charter Review Committee. They've not passed lobbying disclosure. They've not passed ethics reforms. They're too busy rubber-stamping lame development plans for developer hogs and their undisclosed foreign owners. (How many are Russian, Chinese or organized crime?) Enough secrecy.
Dodgy speculators calling themselves "developers" have gotten away with murder, destroying our democracy and our environment with corruption, regulatory capture of our governments, and resulting damage, destruction of our history and environmental heritage, deforestation, clearcutting of our forests, filling in our wetlands, killing of our wildlife, and attempting to convert our beloved St. Johns County into an unreasonable facsimile of Richardson, Texas or Broward County, Florida. They've done it beneath a smug patina of respectability, evidently sharing the view of corrupt former Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994 -- S/HOAR told me at an LWV forum that the developer who fund his political machines' campaigns are "very nice people."
The late Memphis State University Law School Professor W.H. "Toby Sides said, "The pigs get fat but the hogs get slaughtered.
Are the plutocrats and politicians run by SILVERLEAF developer TRAVIS JAMES HUTSON and other petty Tinpot Napoleons behind the "penny plan" about to get their comeuppance?
Are billionaires about to be taught a lesson by the people of St. Johns County.?
You tell me.
Next year, will our Commissioners and other leaders need to go to Tallahassee and work for comprehensive tax and development law reform, to make polluters and developers pay for their overdevelopment and environmental "crimes against nature?"
Or is their idea of legislation and being legislators involve taking orders, like short order cooks in TRAVIS HUTSON's hash house, "making all their nowhere plans for nobody," approving legislation at the drop of a hat for noisome greedheads like HUTSON, who are making a hash of our beautiful county, a/k/a "God's Country?"
As JFK said, "here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own."