The Libertarian Voters Guide Okaloosa County Sheriff 2010

This guide contains questions for candidates for Sheriff of Okaloosa County, Florida. The candidates for Sheriff as of 15 October 2010 are Larry Ashley, C.P. Morales, Brian C. Sparling, and Robert L. Thacker Jr.,

The questions proposed in this guide were created by the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County. The answers are exactly as they were presented to the LPOC. They are presented as a public service to the voters.

Candidates were asked to limit their answers to 650 characters including spaces. If they submitted an answer greater than 650 characters, only the first 650 were published (indicated by *). LPOC comments on any one question are also limited to 650 characters.

In pursuit of individual rights, free markets, and limited government,

The Executive Committee of the LPOC

Pete Blome, Chairman
Steve Copus, Vice Chairman
Mike Maier, Treasurer
Lee Jackson, Former Chair

Help us in our fight for a better Okaloosa. Send donations to:

Pd. Pol. Adv. By The Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County, P.O. Box 483, Shalimar, Florida 32579-0483, www.libertarianpoc.org,

1) How do you view the role of Sheriff in the County?

Larry Ashley

The primary role of the Sheriff is to enable & empower the men & women of the Sheriff’s Office to effectively ensure the safety of our citizens thru fair, unbiased & impartial enforcement of Florida State Statutes & Okaloosa County Ordinances. This can be achieved by insisting & insuring that all members of the department continually demonstrate the highest level of professionalism & ethical behaviour in all we do. At the same time the Sheriff must demonstrate good fiscal stewardship & insist that tax dollars are spent judiciously & only for their appropriated purpose. The Sheriff must also develop & administer contingency plans in times of crisis.

C.P. Morales

I view it as a role model for all the citizens, specially the small persons (children’s). The sheriff, since is the highest ranking person in the county, should represent sincerity, trustworthy, honesty, integrity, truthfulness and straightforwardness

Brian C. Sparling

The role of the Sheriff is that of the Senior Law Enforcement Officer. It is his responsibility to ensure that progressive law enforcement services are provided to the community of Okaloosa County. The Sheriff should be accessible to all of the community, as well as being a part of the community. This can be accomplished by participating in community events as well as all functions of the sheriff’s office. The Sheriff would be responsible for providing the highest level of services within the budget and utilizing every dollar in the proper manner to do so.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

I view the Sheriff as a Chief Executive Officer for the most powerful elected position in our county. The Sheriff must be a frugal protector of tax-payer dollars to provide outstanding Law Enforcement services while representing the citizens in a positive manner. I view the Sheriff as the singular individual that represents the ideas, pulse and diligence of the community. Every community in America is usually judged by their elected representatives. The representative commonly referred to in obtaining the status of that community is the Sheriff. It is vitally important that the Sheriff be a moral, lawful and respected member of our community.

LPOC Opinion

The Sheriff is the most prominent public example of the rule of law and the first line of defense of individual rights in the county. The Sheriff must be the prime example of law abiding conduct and above reproach. The Sheriff, as an elected official and by being on the cutting edge of events as they happen, is also the first person to ensure that citizens control their government rather than government abusing its citizens.

2) What is your first priority upon taking office as Sheriff?

Larry Ashley

My first priority is to ensure that your sheriff’s office is fully prepared and capable of responding to the public safety needs of our citizens. This will include the elimination of waste and inefficiencies while re-defining standards of professional performance & the methods by which they are measured. I will develop and ensure a culture of achievement rather than one of entitlement. Performance based goals, physical fitness and a commitment to professional training will be among the top priorities. Our citizens deserve the highest levels of service we can provide and I will provide superior service for every tax dollar we expend.

C.P. Morales

My first priority will be to pay tribute to all the citizens of the county for electing me as the new sheriff. After that, I will start to eliminate some jobs that are not necessary in the sheriff department.

Brian C. Sparling

To restore trust in the administrative operations of the Sheriff’s Office. Streamline operations, reduce and eliminate excessive bureaucracy, and make the office more responsive to all citizens is my goal. The current organizational structure is burdened with layers of highly paid people performing minimal work with little justification.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

My first priority is to reassure the Sheriff Office employees that they are doing a great job and I’m here to support them. It is very important to let the employees know that they have a solid and stern supporter of their efforts. After this has been accomplished, I will ask all the employees to fill out a job application with the Sheriff’s Office. The purpose is to review their written communication abilities while reviewing their accomplishments and achievements. I will personally review applications keeping the ones that pass my standards and rejecting the ones that do not.

LPOC Opinion

The first priority must be to restore trust in the integrity of the local law enforcement community. This begins by setting a standard of no tolerance for corruption. Hand-in-hand with this concept, the Sheriff must make it known that the Office of Sheriff is not there to merely enforce every law presented to it, but to be a co-participant in defending individual rights.

3) Would you support the execution of a National Security Letter, if presented to you, which allows searches without the review or consent of a judge, or the knowledge of the person being searched?

Larry Ashley

Yes, I will support the execution of National Security Letters in Okaloosa County. My careful review of Title 18, Chapter 121 of the United States Code leaves me convinced that sufficient restrictions and oversight exist governing the circumstances under which a National Security Letter can be lawfully executed. The unprecedented threat imposed by radical terrorist elements was clearly demonstrated on 11 September 2001. US intelligence and law enforcement agencies must be able to respond with speedy and deliberate actions to counter those threats. National Security Letters enable that quick and deliberate response. I will support their judicious use!

C.P. Morales

No. it will violate The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Brian C. Sparling

Often ideas change with time or political ideology. This issue demands from the law enforcement profession an application of fairness. The laws governing the National Security Letter are current and have merit before a court of law. To change any law requires citizens partnered with their legislators to amend or change the law. I’m supportive of our statutes as written but realize the people have the authority to change them. As the Sheriff, I am expected to uphold the law.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

I would not execute this letter unless I thoroughly review its legal authorization in accordance with Doe vs Ashcroft, now as Doe vs Mukasey. As you are aware, the 2nd US Circuit Court Judge agreed with the lower courts in determining that parts of an individuals First and Fourth Amendment Rights were violated. Therefore, the execution of the National Security Letter still requires standard court ordered approval for certain information requested and has to be provided with the Letter. As I’ve stated, I would not support the execution of the National Security Letter if presented to me.

LPOC Opinion

No. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said, the National Security Letter is no different than the Writs of Assistance British soldiers wrote for themselves to search American homes without evidence leading to the revolution. A republic cannot survive if searches are legally conducted in secret. A republic cannot survive if a person cannot even say he is being searched without going to jail. It is breeding ground for illicit government behavior, a potent source of corruption, and unconstitutional.

4) Would you be in favor of roadside checkpoints to randomly check persons for driving while intoxicated (DUI), scan all vehicles for contraband using x-ray technology, or search all vehicles for illegal immigrants?

Larry Ashley

Sobriety checkpoints are often used as part of a comprehensive enforcement strategy aimed at deterring alcohol-impaired driving & they have been proven to be effective towards that end. I support these initiatives providing they are fairly administered & the criteria used to conduct checks is truly random & impartial i.e., every 5th car, versus every red sports car. I do not however support or advocate the use of technologies that circumvent the expectations of privacy guaranteed by our constitution. We typically enjoy an expectation of privacy in our vehicles and that expectation should only be usurped based on probable cause or exigent circumstances.

C.P. Morales

Yes, for driving while intoxicated (DUI). Everything else will be a violation of the constitution.

Brian C. Sparling

I support and plan to initiate as many Safety and Sobriety checkpoints as possible. The checkpoints must follow very specific rules and are highly publicized to ensure limited interruption to the public. These checkpoints allow law enforcement to locate and arrest offenders of multiple law violations. These violations range from drivers’ license violations, impaired drivers, narcotics violations, illegal immigrants, as well as ensuring vehicles meet the minimum safety laws to be on the road. X-ray technology is a valuable tool that is better utilized in the airport, shipping and border areas.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

I’m in favor of conducting random DUI checkpoints for the purpose of locating, identifying, and removing impaired drivers from our roadways. I’m not in favor of using XRAY technology for routine or random checkpoints as it’s not logistically or economically sound procedures. The cost of moving and operating this specialized equipment is not conducive to limited budget Agencies. I’m not in favor of setting up checkpoints for the sole purpose of locating illegal immigrants. This could be considered profiling if all you’re looking for during a roadblock is a specific race. There are other venues available to deal with illegal immigrants.

LPOC Opinion

No, criminality should be determined by actions, not by potential actions. Any search that is blanket in nature, such as DUI, x-ray or illegal alien checkpoints, leads to government excess, and should be opposed. Checkpoints on roads, not backed by the presentation of evidence beforehand or by probable cause, will spread the use of random searches in general at the expense of liberty. Because if law enforcement may legally search you simply for using the public roads, what is to stop them from legally doing so when you are at the store, or at home? Eventually, being secure in one’s own person will become a meaningless phrase, and it will forever alter what it means to be free in America.

5) Do you think illegal immigrants should have the rights of the constitution?

Larry Ashley

Illegal aliens should and do enjoy the due process protections afforded to all people under our Constitution. They do not however have the right to vote, possess firearms, and other provisions guaranteed our citizens by the constitution. I have talked with numerous legal immigrants who share this same belief. Legal immigrants have abided by the law and followed the immigration rules of our country to gain their status. Granting illegal immigrants all the same rights enjoyed by our citizens and legal immigrants severely diminishes the value of our rights and serves to dissuade others from following the law and seeking citizenship or immigration lawfully. Our rights and freedoms were paid for with the bloo*

C.P. Morales

America was build with immigrants, and the Constitution of the US States, states,” We the People of the United States, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity (descendants)…

Amendment 14 also states….. .” All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,…. No State shall make or enforce,..; …nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Brian C. Sparling

I believe the United States has a great opportunity for people to immigrate here. I believe the policies and procedures which the potential immigrants must complete are here to protect the citizens of the United States from potential unwanted individuals obtaining citizenship. Those which try to circumvent the laws and policies of obtaining the proper paperwork to remain in the United States, either temporary or permanent, should not receive the same as those who are here legally.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

Our country was founded, built and ran by immigrants long before you or I were born. I do believe immigrants should have basic rights. But I also believe they should follow the law for admittance and naturalization. The problem is that some foreigners want the “good” life now without following the rules. Hence the necessity for allowing basic rights, but at the same time they need to be arrested and deported with their identification being log and banned for upwards of 10-years. The basic rights are to protect them from “prejudicial” acts by citizens and provide them with minimum medical care necessary to get them on transportation out of the country

LPOC Opinion

Yes. The Constitution is based on the inherent rights of men, not the privileges of nationalities. In the USA we are increasingly using special laws to give due process to “specially selected” categories of people, such as “terrorists” [enemy combatants], “minorities” [hate crimes], and “foreigners” [illegal immigrants]. This is a bad thing for all of us because whenever the law is applied by a standard other than the criminal behavior of the accused, it means the law is being applied for reasons other than determining justice.

6) Are you in favor of police powers to track a person or vehicle without their knowledge and without showing evidence or probable cause to a judge? (This power is currently being used in nine western states, using GPS technology, and judged legal by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Oregon case of Pineda-Moreno 2007)).

Larry Ashley

I do not believe, absent reasonable suspicion or judicial authority, police should be able to employ technologies which monitor the movements of citizens who have not been convicted of a crime and are not under judicial sanctions such as sexual predators. However, in reviewing your referenced case I noted that in this instance law enforcement authorities had observed behaviors that constitute reasonable suspicion that crimes were being committed. That information, when coupled with the fact that attaching a tracking device is not overly invasive, leads me to believe the police actions cited in the Pineda-Moreno case were constitutional and reasonable.

C.P. Morales

No. This violated the Constitution of the US, and the State of Florida

Brian C. Sparling

I am in favor of the power to track a person or vehicle without their knowledge. However, I believe all of these types of tracks should be approved by a judge. The use of GPS tracking is a great asset to the law enforcement community in locating missing persons, wanted persons, or stolen property. In cases of danger to life, a track without a court order could be used.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

I am in favor of using police powers to track a person or vehicle without their knowledge as long as it doesn’t violate Title 7 of United States Codes (Right to Privacy). If I’m trying to follow up on leads concerning a potential criminal act, I would employ those tactics that would enable me to develop probable cause or evidence in proving my case. This type of activity has shown repeatedly to be very successful at stopping criminal activity. If we use technology to thwart the criminal element verses using human resources, then the community can realize cost saving measures while legally preventing criminal acts.

LPOC Opinion

No. The ability of a law enforcement officer, on his own volition and without review for evidence or probable cause, to track someone is not a small matter. Although it may reveal criminal activity, it is also just as likely to reveal opinions, actions, and desires which are not criminal, but considered undesirable by government. Will the information never be used against him? Who can assure this? Can that person, or any person, ever feel assured he is allowed to think, travel, and develop his personality as he sees fit? It is more likely he will be forced, over time, to conform much as a prisoner conforms to his prison. A watched society can never be a free society.

7) Are you in favor of the county policy to allow Sheriff’s Deputies to moonlight as security guards in the county uniform, responsible to enforce the law as if they were on regular duty, but in the employ of a private company?

Larry Ashley

Absolutely! I support off duty details which provide added security and protections to area businesses and enable deputies to supplement their income. Based on our current pay scale, the average deputy, with a family of four, falls below the poverty line on the income scale. Florida State Statute 30.2905 also establishes provisions for private businesses to contract for employment of off-duty deputies for security services. I have no reason to oppose any such arrangement providing our deputies presence and conduct is in keeping with our professional and ethical standards

C.P. Morales

No. Deputies are employees of the states. If deputies want to moonlight as security guards, that’s their rights, but not with states uniforms, or equipment. A security guard has not law enforcement power in a private company.

Brian C. Sparling

Yes, I am in favor of the county policy allowing for off duty employment by Deputy Sheriffs.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

I am not in favor of this type activity. The company must contract with the Sheriff’s Office to allow Deputies to aid the company in maintaining good order and discipline at their establishment. The Sheriff can not afford the liability of allowing an employee who is a representation of the Sheriff to conduct law enforcement duties without the permission of the Sheriff. The laws state that if a law enforcement officer, who is known as an employee of a law enforcement agency, enforces laws that could result in a civil lawsuit then the employee’s agency is liable for damages.

LPOC Opinion

No – Deputies are servants of all the public. If in their free time they decide to be a security guard, and employ their law enforcement training to maintain the good order of crowds and traffic, then they should be permitted, but without the support, trappings and law enforcement duties of the County. To do otherwise sets in motion a dynamic where law enforcement is sold to the highest bidder. It is a mild form of favoritism by government to private firms. It corrupts both the government and the free market, and leads to a slow rot in public trust.

8) Do you believe it is better to let 10 guilty men go free than for one innocent man to be in prison?

Larry Ashley

Yes, I believe this without reservation! During my 20+ years as a law enforcement officer this has been one of the guiding principles which have governed my actions. I have never arrested an individual whom I did not believe to be guilty of a crime & whose guilt was not supported by the evidence. I have made hundreds of arrests in my career and I take very seriously the enormous responsibility associated with depriving someone of their personal freedoms through arrest. As Sheriff I will ensure that law enforcement arrest powers are not haphazardly invoked.

C.P. Morales

Yes. An innocent person will lose his good name, his family, and his career, and will suffer a life sentence of humiliation, of rape and execution of AIDS, because the justice system made a mistake. A guilty person chose to defiant the law; he chose to be that way.

Brian C. Sparling

It is never the right thing to allow someone guilty of a crime to be free. It is also never right to imprison an innocent person. I will hire only the best trained individuals and give them the training they need to ensure every step is taken so neither of these incidents has to occur.

Robert L. Thacker Jr.

This age old adage has been argued from all directions. My thought; it is not better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be in prison. Our system is not perfect, but it’s the best system known to the world. We give all the benefits of innocence to every violator charged. Our system provides the preamble, Innocent until proven guilty, in all cases. Every benefit is afforded to the charged individual to prove his/her innocence before being judged. Once in a while we do make a mistake and one innocent person is imprisoned. This event happens so infrequently that it’s acceptable under our current system.

LPOC Opinion

Yes. This saying speaks about the power of government. Government does not grant us our rights or our freedom. That is a birthright. Government is to protect our individual rights, and an exacting attention to that will lead to circumstances where the guilty are sometimes let free for the ultimate protection of all the innocent. The thought that there should be acceptable losses (an innocent man suffering the life shattering consequences of false imprisonment) in the justice system is unacceptable on its face. It cannot be otherwise if we are to have a country where you are innocent until proven guilty, and where government rules with the consent of the governed.

Seriously Wrong Out There

Election time is nearly upon us, and at a time like this I reflect on where Okaloosa has been and where it is going.

Despite the hard economic times, the general public still believes in its government and its leaders. There is faith that what worked in the past will probably work this time too, and soon we can all get back to our jobs, our families and the simple things in life. Choose a side, republican or democrat, make your check in the box, and move on.

But you and I both know that something is going seriously wrong out there.

I am not talking about individual corruption, or incompetence in government. That happens all the time in every age. “Scandaloosa” already knows about that.

It seems to me government has a life of its own, and doesn’t seem to know or care about being thrifty or staying out of the way. Examples are everywhere.

Recently, here in republican dominated Okaloosa, we had a school board that wanted to raise taxes on everyone $135 million dollars because they couldn’t think of anything else to do. How about opening up the state monopoly to greater real competition in education?

We have a Board of County Commissioners that kept the tax millage rate steady while increasing spending. The only way to pay for everything is an accounting trick using money from previous years.

In Fort Walton Beach, despite the best efforts of Henry Kelley and the Tea Partiers, the city council basically said, “We don’t care what you want, we are gonna raise taxes!”

North Bay Fire District is raising its tax rate. I bet others are too.

And the Mid Bay Bridge Authority created a bypass and bridge fiscal monster, rubberstamped by our Board of County Commissioners, that will never be paid off. Those commuting to work will be paying an incredible $1430 a year in tolls. Any bets that’s not going to go up in the future too?

Higher up the food chain, at the state level we will be voting on two amendments to our State Constitution where it doesn’t matter if you vote yes or no, you will be voting for intrusive government (number 4 and number 8). What a choice.

We have fraud banks selling fraud mortgages backed by fraud buyers to everyone to the tune of trillions of dollars, all supposedly regulated by our fraud state and federal governments. Honest, hardworking, people are beginning to think maybe it is a good idea to walk away from their underwater mortgages.

On Wall Street big stock traders blatantly use illegal methods, such as Goldman Sachs front-running computer programs, to stay ahead of their competition (and the individual trader) with our own government’s blessing. It’s an openly rigged market.

Our Congress bailed out banks that should have gone under, and you and I are paying for it to the tune of $45,000 for every man, woman, and child in the county.

And the Federal Reserve, entrusted by law to keep prices stable, has openly come out with inflation targets. Inflation is called the cruelest tax because pensioners, the elderly, the savers and producers (you know, you and me) will be the ones actually paying for it.

It can also melt the country down.

By the way, nobody big goes to jail. That is reserved exclusively for the little guy.

Where are we going? It’s becoming clear that we are going to a place where playing by the rules is a sucker’s game.

It is what happens when libertarian principles are ignored, such as thrift, competition, the rule of law, and government staying out of the way. It is what happens when government is used as a source of favors instead of a protector of individual rights.

It is a dangerous path. It creates two classes of people, one composed of those who have government influence, and the vast majority of those who don’t. Thank 150 years of the republicans and democrats for this development.

So, this year, don’t just check the box and move on. The only way back is by supporting liberty, and the only party that truly supports liberty are the Libertarians.

The Libertarian Voters Guide 2 Nov 10 Ballot Amendments

The Libertarian Voters Guide

2 November 2010 General Election Ballot Florida Constitutional Amendments and Other Initiatives

30 September 2010

This guide contains a brief synopsis of the constitutional amendments and other initiatives to be on the General Ballot in the 2 November General election. Following each synopsis is the opinion of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County regarding each ballot initiative.

There are six total proposed constitutional amendments and one Federal Budget Advisory Question to be on the 2 November ballot. The proposed amendments are not numbered sequentially, so the ballot will show amendments numbered up to number eight when there are only six of them.

In summary, the LPOC recommends that an individual vote as follows:

Amendment One: Vote yes Amendment Two: Vote no

Amendment Four: Vote yes Amendment Five: Vote no

Amendment Six: Vote no Amendment Eight: Vote yes

Federal Budget Advisory Question: Vote no

The Executive Committee of the LPOC, in pursuit of individual rights, free markets, and limited government,

Pete Blome, Chairman
Steve Copus, Vice Chairman
Mike Maier, Treasurer
Lee Jackson, Former Chair

Help us in our fight for a better Okaloosa. Send donations to:

Pd. Pol. Adv. By The Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County, P.O. Box 483, Shalimar, Florida 32579-0483, www.libertarianpoc.org,

Number One: Article VI, section 7

REPEAL OF PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCE REQUIREMENT

Ballot summary: Proposing the repeal of the provision in the State Constitution that requires public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office.

LPOC Opinion: The malignant growth of government often comes from ideas that on the surface seem like good ones. Government should rule for the benefit of all, but when it coerces some of the population, through tax laws, to support the campaigns of political candidates they do not agree with, it coerces the public into supporting a message they would not support. Instead of the power of public opinion determining issues and candidates’ chances, the financial role of government has suddenly made that government take on a very direct role in determining the issues and candidates are that the public sees. Public support also means public accountability. Although this also appears to be on the surface a good idea, it tends to limit a candidate to only those actions that are already approved by the government. It becomes one more step in the march of political mediocrity that we suffer from right now. In sum, public campaign financing favors an existing government administration, and reduces the public discussion of issues.

Vote yes to repeal this amendment

Number two: Article VII, section 3 and Article XII, section 31

HOMESTEAD AD VALOREM TAX CREDIT FOR DEPLOYED MILITARY PERSONNEL

Ballot summary: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require the legislature to provide an additional homestead property tax exemption by law for members of the United States military or military reserves, the United States Coast Guard or its reserves, or the Florida National Guard who receive a homestead exemption and were deployed in the previous year on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska or Hawaii, in support of military operations designated by the legislature. The exempt amount will be based on the number of days in the previous calendar year that the person was deployed on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the legislature. The amendment is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011.

LPOC Opinion – The real purpose of this amendment is to support a flagging real estate market. It reinforces the false belief that government exists to provide special favors for politicians to dole out.to select groups. A second homestead exemption discriminates against renters, and props up housing prices by increasing housing demand. From an economic point of view, it would be better to eliminate taxes on all households, thereby freeing up spendable income, than it would be to grant a special exemption for a few. At its core this amendment is about granting exemptions – every taxpayer does not get the same deal and most will bear more costs for taxation and in higher costs for housing. Vote no

Number four: Article II, section 7

REFERENDA REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLANS

Ballot summary: Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions. Financial Impact statement: This amendment’s impact on local government expenditures cannot be estimated precisely. Local governments will incur additional costs due to the requirement to conduct referenda in order to adopt comprehensive plans or amendments thereto. The amount of such costs depends upon the frequency, timing and method of the referenda, and includes the cost of ballot preparation, election administration, and associated expenses. The impact on state government expenditures will be insignificant.

LPOC Opinion: The voters of Florida would be better off if this amendment were not on the ballot, as voting either yes or no supports an intrusive government. The idea of local land use plans requiring a referendum whenever a change is proposed seems to support a common conception of democracy, i.e., that all will vote and decide an issue. This is in contrast to the current method where a few representatives on a zoning board decide matters. Presumably, opening zoning decisions to public referendum reduces the centralized power of government.

But the real question a voter needs to ask himself is whether government should be in charge of deciding how you use your property. Zoning, permits and licenses are among the most pernicious limitations on an individual using his own property, and arriving at that decision by a vote of your neighbors or by a vote of remote zoning board is still a limitation on your use of your property. What you are being asked to vote for here is control by an organized, vocal minority or control by unelected or unaccountable bureaucrats. Neither is acceptable.

It is our opinion it is better to let this matter be decided by your neighbors than by a remote government. Eventually, it is our hope that the community in general will come to see that government intervention is harmful in the overwhelming majority of cases, whether that intervention be by bureaucrat or by popular vote, and gradually eliminate it.Vote yes

Number Five: Article III, section 21

STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING

Ballot summary: Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

Financial Impact statement: The fiscal impact cannot be determined precisely. State government and state courts may incur additional costs if litigation increases beyond the number or complexity of cases which would have occurred in the amendment’s absence.

LPOC Opinion : This is an example of an amendment that gives voters a false sense of confidence in the virtue of their elected representatives. The thought that partisan, professional politicians would knowingly commit political suicide by revising his/her district to permit a competitive opponent in her/his district illogical on its face.

This amendment tries to give political cover to Republican and Democrat legislators accused of redistricting partisanship, but it will not stop the practice. Cunning legislators of either major party can still arrange districts to favor one of the two dominant parties just by being active during the border drawing process. The amendment rules are also terribly vague. If the process of creating voting districts was meant to be foolproof, some sort of formula based on population or geography could have been created.

Instead of creating legislation to hide behind and blame if things go wrong, it would be better if the voters see the results of their legislators wheeling and dealing. Let lawmakers do what they will, and then hold them accountable when they make a district that is 99.99% republican, or split up a third party so they will not achieve more than 5% of the vote. This is preferable to a false sense of security that a just and equitable system is in place. Vote no.

Number Six: Article III, section 20

STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING

Ballot summary: Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries. Financial Impact statement: The fiscal impact cannot be determined precisely. State government and state courts may incur additional costs if litigation increases beyond the number or complexity of cases which would have occurred in the amendment’s absence.

LPOC Opinion : The LPOC opinion on this matter is identical to the one regarding STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING previously stated. Vote no.

Number Eight: Article IX, section 1 and Article XII, section 31

REVISION OF THE CLASS SIZE REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Ballot summary: The Florida Constitution currently limits the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms in the following grade groupings: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 18 students; for grades four through 8, 22 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 25 students. Under this amendment, the current limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher, by specified grade grouping, in each public school. This amendment also adopts new limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom as follows: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 21 students; for grades 4 through 8, 27 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 30 students. This amendment specifies that class size limits do not apply to virtual classes, requires the Legislature to provide sufficient funds to maintain the average number of students required by this amendment, and schedules these revisions to take effect upon approval by the electors of this state and to operate retroactively to the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.

LPOC Opinion: This is another example of an amendment that voters would be better off it were not on the ballot because both a yes or no vote works against the voters interest. The thought that something as managerial as class size is on a state constitution referendum is direct evidence of centralized state planning run amok.

Education has been a state monopoly for so long, and supported by so many discriminatory acts of legislation (such as double taxing the home schooled and those who send their children to private school, and the state determining school standards for everyone) that Americans are beginning to forget that there is any other way. Monopolies always end in excessive costs and poor performance because they are not responsive to the needs of their clients, the students. A state monopoly is even worse because it uses the power of taxation (a very deep pocket) to keep institutions operating that otherwise would close. The solution to the problems of education is to open it up to competition.

This amendment is really about state power – the power to tax, the power to decide for everyone, the power to make one size fit all, the power to eliminate competition, and the ridiculous power to make every Floridian vote on the class size, thereby legitimizing the monopoly.

Vote yes – Allowing larger class size will at least give some flexibility to the system presumably saving money.

Federal Budget Advisory Question

SHOULD CONGRESS ADD AN AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION REQUIRING A BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET?

LPOC Opinion: We detest the idea of a government that continually borrows beyond its means (and thereby threatens the stability of its currency and the freedom of its children who must pay the bill), but there are circumstances in a limited government where temporary borrowing, beyond tax receipts, is both necessary and warranted. The most obvious is war brought about by invasion or other attack, and another can be a catastrophic natural disaster requiring temporary state relief.

Another item to consider is the nature of money in our modern world. Although the LPOC does not agree with it, borrowing, especially by government, is a critical part of the current monetary system based on debt. All money is borrowed into existence, and without both public and private borrowing our economic system would crash immediately (as opposed to the slow motion crash it is experiencing now, caused by too much debt.)

Vote no – this advisory question tries to fix budget problems by set rules instead of the collective good wits of the members of Congress. Think about such methods applied in the past such as the Gramm-Rudman Act, which is still the law, but now, apparently, bypassed or ignored. Such methods always create more problems than they solve. Hold your representative accountable instead through the ballot box.