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Orange County takes another shot at charter amendments

Commissioner Fred Brummer's power grab is back, only now in separate pieces

Photo: Photo by Meredith Hill, myfloridahouse.gov, License: N/A

Photo by Meredith Hill, myfloridahouse.gov

What all of this means is that there will likely be a public hearing on May 6 that will put at least one (if not more) of Brummer’s bummers on the Aug. 26 ballot (the elimination of Tax Collector Scott Randolph’s position has been, for the moment, removed from the conversation) for voters to decide on for themselves.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles, who believes that if the petition process is going to be altered it should be done so holistically and not just in small pieces, points out that there could be a grand irony come August if things go a certain way: There’s currently a Democratic-led petition drive to make county commission seats partisan, and now there could also be a question on the same ballot that asks voters to make all county offices nonpartisan. We are, in effect, un-inventing the wheel in our banana republic.

But, as we’ve mentioned, the real issue at hand is the public’s ability to get issues on the ballot via citizens initiatives. If Brummer (and Big Tourism) has his way, it would become almost impossible. Brummer’s amendment would cut the amount of time to collect petitions to get a matter on the ballot in half, while the number of petitions required for an issue to be considered would be increased.

“Do you understand how hard it is to collect 784 petitions a day?” Organize Now director Stephanie Porta says, recalling summer of 2012 when she led the sick-time battle. “We had to collect 240 a day. It’s already an impossible feat.”

It’s almost like collecting $792.20, in a weird way. That’s what Organize Now is currently attempting to do with its “Sunshine Isn’t Always Free” fundraising drive to pay off invoices sent to the group last week after it requested public information on whom Brummer was talking to and when.

You think you can see the sun in Orange County. You can’t. That’s just a blind spot.

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