Absolute power corrupts absolutely," Lord Acton said. Do Florida's laws preserve and protect one-party rule, thus corrupting our governments "absolutely?"
Monday, October 02, 2023
One-party rule is wrong. (By Ed Slavin)
It happened in America, in 2023. Orange County Commissioners (all Democrats), voted 4-2 to raise their own pay by 25%, effective September 17th. That is outrageously self-serving. The states ratified our 27th Amendment in 1992, only 202 years after James Madison proposed it: Congressional pay raises don't take effect until the next Congress. Will Orange County now likewise amend its County charter?
Are County governments in Florida largely a case of one-party rule, whether Democratic or Republican? Is one-party rule unAmerican, dangerous, stultifying, and contrary to the genius of a free people?
Local one party rule results from closed party primaries, despite a 1998 constitutional amendment.
Voters thought we were adopting universal primaries: If all candidates running are of one party, with no opposition, the party primary is opened to all. But lawyers for both parties persuaded our courts to hold that "opposition" includes token "phantom write-in" candidates, who have by design disenfranchised millions of voters, according to Tampa Bay Times. "Phantom write-in" candidates here in St. Johns County have no platform and no campaign, but file to keep a Democrat from being elected.
All St. Johns County officeholders were Democrats until circa 1990, when Sheriff Neil Perry, political boss, and all constitutional officers changed their registration to Republican, most standing in line together at the Supervisor of Elections Office.
In 1998, St. Johns County Commissioners gerrymandered. Until then, there were seven Commissioners, two elected countywide, and five by voters in single member districts. Without a new census, or a consultant or any need, they ended single member districts, and went from seven to five Commissioners, each elected by all voters county-wide from their supposed district. This requires massive amounts of campaign cash, favoring the wealthy and developer-contributors. Exhibit A: In 2008, St. Johns County Commission's then-Chair was sent to federal prison for bribery.
One-party rules causes coverups and wasteful spending, with little governmental oversight. Our maladroit County government allegedly intimidates employees and citizens, and perpetrates discrimination and retaliation against ethical employees for being too honest (firing the Inspector General for refusing to reveal the name of a confidential informant).
One-party rule is the gift that keeps on giving Trojan horses: deforestation, wetland filling, wildlife killing, clogged roads, poor drainage, hundredds of portable classrooms, bad planning, and $786,785 in Sheriff's office embezzlement for five (5) years (by the wife of an FDLE supervisor who received the first embezzled check). One-party rule enabled the former Sherif''s and Republican prosecutors' coverup of the September 2, 2010 homicide of a Sheriff's deputy's girlfriend with his service weapon, never taken to the grand jury, as reported by The New York Times and PBS/frontline.
Our one-party County government rubber-stamped a $1.65 billion FY 2024 budget while refusing to answer any of my 104 written questions, violating our TRIM law rights.
Arrested here with 1000 other citizens whose criminal cases were ultimately tossed out of federal court, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called St. Johns County "the most lawless" place in America. This is where Ronald Dion DeSantis got his start as Congressman, doing little or nothing for local citizens, stiffing elected officials, while appearing on Fox News some 40 times, 2013-2018.
St. Johns County has no charter, with two ham-handed attempts in 2008 excluding LGTQ+ people from its non-discrimination clause. One-party Commissioners won't discuss or adopt LGBTQ+ Pride Proclamations. The County has no local lobbying disclosure or ethics ordinance, lacks transparency, and brandishes a hostile working environment that chills, coerces free speech rights. Enough.
Local one-party rule ruler-burghers wanted us to vote to raise our sales taxes by 15% in 2022. Voters rejected them, as voters did five times since 1988. I suggested 25 government reforms March 15, 2022. Our all-Republican St. Johns County Commissioners responded to none of them. Wonder why? (Fun fact: when I ran for a local non-partisan mosquito board in 2020, there were PAC TV ads with my face on a bug's body, with a-buzzing in the background, damning me as the "biggest liberal in St. Johns County," asking viewers to "tell Ed Slavin to buzz off!" )
What do you reckon?
You tell me,