Friday, September 03, 2010

A Labor Day Message: get out the vote for Amendment 4 ... by gimleteye

When Florida Hometown Democracy's Amendment 4 gains 60 percent of the popular vote in November, Floridians will have seized the single opportunity to change the politics and lobbying practices that turned Florida into a landscape blighted by degraded wetlands, crappy subdivisions, and massive municipal and county budget deficits. If you are concerned about higher taxes as a result of the poor planning and overdevelopment that lead to infrastructure deficits, you will not listen to the political committee trying to defeat the ballot referendum. It is called, with no hint of irony, Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy. Inspired, right? Those "citizens" are principally production homebuilders and real estate interests who drove the economy off the cliff. So what kind of business "successes" support their investment in your vote: look at the record.

Hovanian Enterprises contributed $96,000 in the last quarter to defeat Amendment 4. Yesterday, that company declared quarterly losses of $72.9 million. In the previous year period, Hovanian only lost $168.9 million. KB Homes in the last quarter contributed $255,000 to defeat Amendment 4. In its last quarter report, KB Homes only lost $30.7 million. Lennar contributed $367,000. Its 2009 losses were only $417 million, thanks to federal bailouts of the homebuilders called "net operating loss carryback"; a program that will cost US taxpayers up to $53 billion according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

These are just a few of the interests who want a "stronger economy" by pulling the wool over voters' eyes. Toll Brothers-- that contributed $43,000 to defeat Amendment 4 -- reported a "gain" of $13.3 million pre-tax income thanks to "tax asset valuation allowances" (ie. bailout) of $439.4 million. WCI Communities, whose former chairman Al Hoffman, was Jeb Bush's top gun-- chairing the Council of 100 and GOP campaigns nationally-- lost nearly $2 billion through bankruptcy. In its new chicken suit, WCI contributed a cluck-cluck $5000 to defeat Amendment 4.

Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy are counting on voters not knowing the identity of its funders or that the industries they represent first pushed the US economy into a ditch and would be insolvent but for federal tax policy from a Democratic Congress and President, who they did not support.

Amendment 4 gained traction long before the housing bubble burst, among citizens who understood how the Ponzi scheme of development in Florida starts with local elected officials welded at the hip to local developers and lobbyists tied to big, publicly traded production homebuilders. Since the bubble burst, Instead of restraining economic activities that advanced so much carnage, the public seems unaware how federal bailouts have allowed them to continue spending shareholder money to preserve the status quo in zoning and land use in states like Florida. Trading and swapping lots surrounded by ghost subdivisions, the homebuilders are waiting for the miracle to come. Reasonable people would conclude that any industry that caused billions in losses, and untold personal suffering, should not be given the key to the car again.

Instead of conspiring to defeat Amendment 4, the principals behind Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy should be spending their days attending to their own 12 Step Program. Something has to change in the formulaic growth that has caused so much harm to Florida. That would be, Amendment 4.

Unlike its companion citizen referendum-- the effort to rationalize redistricting in Florida-- there has been a virtual media blackout on Amendment 4 and its supporters. Cobbled together from grass roots groups across the state-- Florida Hometown Democracy has succeeded in getting this far with grit and determination. Meanwhile, production homebuilders like those noted are pitching in hundreds of thousands and millions to defeat the lone measure that can offer a chance to save Florida from its worst impulses on how the landscape serves the economy: speculate, scarify, pave, and sprawl. Vote for Amendment 4. Enjoy your Labor Day.


Anonymous said...

keep up the good work gimleteye. It may pass,

Anonymous said...

Rock mining will start soon in Kendall. They got approval on digging the lake. Jeff Wander was seen walking outside and talking with Castillo. I am sure they were talking about the weather. He had no questions form the dais. He was probably still thinking about the weather.

One opponent of the application was called "doom and gloom" by Lawrence Percival. The people in Continental Park (who were in an community meeting that same night) might actually agree with that statement. They have been drinking pesticide-tainted well water for some time now. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of extra county money lying around to connect them to county water. Wow, sucks for them.

Anonymous said...

It’s tough to penalize FP&L for coughing up a $200,000 contribution to Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, Inc. however; a consumer boycott may send a strong message to other contributors such as CVS Pharmacy ($100,000) or CHICO’s FAS ($50,000). See anyone else we could send a message to?

Anonymous said...

It should be illegal to announce yourself as publicly supporting something like, Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, while you really have a detrimental effect behind your movement. It sends the wrong message and deceives the public. Keep up the good work Gimleteye. I think your have more support out there than you realize.

Anonymous said...

Are there any new polls out there for HTD? The last ones I saw were 61% in March by Mason Dixon, and 51% by Nielson. This isn't good. Most amendments need to start well above (+10%) the passing percentage in order to avoid the inevitable drop off in support. Add in some negative campaigning and a skeptical electorate, and this amendment dies a painful death.

Anonymous said...

Amendment 4 passing is crucial to the State of Florida.

Anonymous said...

Get out the vote, get out the word.