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ALEC resurfaces with local angle

New city and county focus by bill mill raises more questions about corporate influence in Orange County government

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How will ALEC stand its ground? It will, allegedly beginning in August, start going after the 500,000 or so elected municipal officials in the United States, parlaying the same kind of one-size-fits-all sausage casing that its name has grown synonymous with, while trying to drag corporate interests (cough, Walmart, cough) back into the fold because small government equals happy board members.

According to a report from the Guardian last week, the American City County Exchange – ALEC’s localized little sister – is all set to become “America’s only free-market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers.” Say what? Nope. Can’t say much more than that, according to the newspaper, because as they are wont to be, ALEC-types carry locked briefcases that look like mouths. All we know is that companies will be offered two tiers of “free-market” government purchase: $25,000 a year to be on the “founders committee” and $10,000 to be on the “council committee.” No word yet on how much your commissioners will have to pay to sit at the table and be told how to vote. As we’ve learned via textgate, it could just be girl-talk-free for them (minus a pesky court fine for breaking the law). Which begs the question: Is Orange County the model for ACCE or is Brummer just one of the fledgling group’s first tools?

“Whether they have any involvement in what is happening in Orange County is really impossible to say, and that is really the problem with ALEC – and with ACCE by extension – which is that they provide a process for corporations to cost-effectively and secretly promote their agenda,” Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center of Media and Democracy – the group that outed ALEC in the first place – says in an email. “We don’t yet know what issues ACCE is going to work on, and we have no idea which of the hundreds of thousands of local elected officials they have managed to sign up as members.”

What we do know is that Brummer’s charter amendment volley stinks of Republican talking points and empty bluster. On a recent CFNews13 online interview, Brummer took the stance that all of this controversy is for nothing, that we’ve been talking about all of the items on his agenda, like, forever – killing the elected Tax Collector office, limiting petition drives, making all county offices nonpartisan, creating new Hispanic districts to which Gov. Rick Scott will conveniently get to appoint commissioners without guarantee of full representation – so why not cram it all together in the spring on unspecified, currently unnoticed dates in a manner that reeks of desperation and pork. It’s your responsibility to vote! If you don’t like what you see – or even just parts of what you see – vote against it. Or, better yet, don’t vote at all.

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