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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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Brummer’s talking points were suspiciously dumbed down for a community meeting aimed at Hispanics on March 6 at Colonial High School. Apparently, according to some in attendance, the disrespect evoked some hostility, even as some marginal Republican Hispanics tried to sell cheap explanations like so much snake oil.

“Often times, a good idea, by itself, doesn’t generate enough support to get passed,” read a handout distributed by former Republican House candidate Rene Plasencia. “It’s a common tool in legislation to add several attractive ideas together to add votes to get it passed. It’s just good old-fashioned coalition building.”

Democratic District 4 candidate Euri Cerrud was there, and the animus in the room prompted him to issue a press release on March 7 calling out the entire proposition. People will have less than a month to even register for a May 27 special mail-in election, it will cost $1.7 million and each of the suggested amendments is “more complicated than the last.” In short, foul ball.

Brook Hines, director of the Main Street Alliance, Florida – and no stranger to the textgate fight of recent history – was also at the meeting, and says things went from bad to worse as the details were unveiled. Moreover, she sees the potential out-of-nowhere connection between Republican operatives – or even the ACCE – with Orange County’s most recent electoral kerfuffle as a clear possibility.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if our [board of county commissioners] didn’t serve as a model for this sort of lobbyist interference in policy-making. In the [Guardian] article they mention giving corporate America a ‘direct conduit’ to the policy-making process,” she says in an email. “That’s exactly what we saw in textgate, where each commissioner and the Mayor had a different corporate lobbyist (or lawyer, or special friend) giving them marching orders during the public hearing on how to derail the ballot measure.”

“Now we see that these same corporate interests are using Fred Brummer as a ‘conduit’ for a huge power grab that would shut citizens out of the policy process altogether while delivering a partisan victory to Rick Scott, as he’ll be able to appoint new Hispanic commissioners if this passes,” she continues. “The power grab is partisan, it’s anti-voter and its goal is to make big business the only voice heard in our local government. This is what ALEC and their new local-level group would like to see everywhere.”

Coincidence is dead.

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