Vote Third Party

I am writing to those disappointed with their
political party or who have decided not to vote in future elections because of
politicians’ sense of entitlement.
Politicians live in political cocoons suckling on
the teat of power — those tax dollars taken from us by force — but unlike a
newborn baby who becomes sleepy from nursing after a time, politicians merely
grow bolder and create more ingenious ways to extract dollars from our pockets
to increase their power.
Our
paper has been filled with examples this past month. Politicians assume the
following: a false dichotomy of liberal conservative thinking; that 40 to 50
percent of eligible people will not vote; and the “independent” voter determines
who wins.
How do we change this and get their attention?
Salespeople know that decisions are based on a fear of loss. A politician’s only
fear is the loss of power: reduced “political turf,” smaller budgets, or —
horrors — not being re-elected.
The
only power we citizens have to create and amplify this fear is our single vote.
At least David had three smooth stones to fight Goliath!
You
party-line voters need only be tolerated. Those of you who don’t vote can be
ignored! That leaves just 10 to 15 percent of the voters, those precious
“independents,” who must be seduced with the “fear of the day” issue. Imagine
the possibilities — the power of independents and today’s nonvoters when they
start voting for third-party candidates!   We
don’t have to put up with it any longer! Change the political dynamic. Vote third
party.
— LEE JACKSON
Shalimar

Congressman Jeff Miller and CISPA

Once again, Jeff Miller voted to limit your rights. This April 18th, he voted for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in the US House.

This Act encourages private companies (such as email providers) to share their information with government agencies. The bill neither mentions due process, nor talks about government obtaining a warrant, but it does induce cyber communication companies to willingly and secretly provide private information about you to the government via immunity. As said in HR624, page 8, line 24, “…no criminal cause of action shall be maintained in Federal or State Court… [for cyber entities providing information.]” If these firms turn your life upside down by disclosing what may be totally innocent information, you have no legal recourse.

It is curious that a former sheriff’s deputy, like Mr. Miller, doesn’t understand the terms secure in papers and effects or due process. Giving legal immunity to private business to reveal information without cause, sometimes against private contracts, so government can then massively pick through private lives is against the Fourth Amendment and opens the doors to corruption. Do you honestly think nameless, faceless bureaucrats protected by anonymity and the law won’t steal from you if they have a chance? They do in the TSA. Worse still, it gives the government power to blackmail those it doesn’t like.

The “conservative” Jeff Miller certainly is no libertarian. If he was he’d see just how dangerous this kind of shallow legislating is, and quit saying how he is protecting us.

Pete Blome

Chair, Northwest Florida Libertarian Party (NFLP)

Secret Tax Votes By Our Commissioners

The famous publisher Joseph Pulitzer once wrote that there is not a crime, not a dodge, not a trick, not a swindle, not a vice that does not live by secrecy.

Well the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners took advantage of the laws of Florida (FS196) and gave a company a ten year ad valorem tax break and the company name must remain secret.  This means there can be two identical businesses in Okaloosa County, with the same amount of income, and one can go under while the other prospers because it got a secret tax break courtesy of our County Commissioners.  Does the BCC know or care about the free market or open government?

There was only one voice, the Chair of the local Libertarian Party, who spoke out against this blatant injustice enabled by bad law from Tallahassee.  Not only do the County Commissioners get to decide who wins and who loses in the economy  (as if they have a special ability to do so), it was also done away from the prying eyes and embarrassing questions of the companies who lose in this deal. They will never know they were discriminated against while they pay taxes.

First the Florida Auditor General’s report, now secret tax deals?

Kudos to Nathan Boyles for being the only Commissioner to vote against this nonsense.

Lee Jackson

The Mid Bay Bridge – Who Loses?

 The Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners (BCC) will soon perform the annual chore of unanimously approving the Mid Bay Bridge Authority (MBBA) Budget for 2013. It is a pity that this important county government function has become nothing more than going through the motions.

It is routine for MBBA budgets to get rubberstamped every year without critical questions of any kind. Even though the Mid Bay Bridge and bypass is by far the largest public works project in the County, none of the past Commissioners, and maybe some of the current ones, think there is anything for them to question. To them, the Mid Bay Bridge and bypass are an absolute good. Even the scope of the budget review has been limited by how the County Attorney has interpreted controlling legislation. The MBBA budget is currently around $15 million, but only about $700,000 of that (the administrative budget) gets presented to the Commissioners to approve. The rest remains under the exclusive control of the MBBA. The matter is put out of sight, out of mind, and out of public scrutiny quickly and efficiently.

Ask yourself who benefits from our County Government being run like this?

The companies involved in building the bypass benefit. A large chunk of the $280 million dollars of MBBA debt (on its way to $350 million) is for construction.

Real estate companies along the new bypass benefit. They get access to a publicly paid highway that allows the development of relatively inaccessible land in the Northern part of Niceville. Local homeowners benefit from higher land value.

The Mid Bay Bridge Authority certainly benefits. Their salaries are good (Jim Vest, the Executive Director, makes $200,000+ per year) and their job security is second to none because there is little to no competition for them to face of any kind. They get autonomy that would make royalty jealous, since even royalty had to contend with a peasant revolt every now and then.

The Board of County Commissioners benefit. They look like they are managing a successful project. This is very much in the BCC’s self- interest because, as we have recently seen with the Florida Auditor General’s report, they have problems keeping County government accountable. For them, the fewer areas of public contention the better. Nor do debt or high tolls for their neighbors worry them. Paraphrasing Commissioner Wayne Harris, if people think tolls are too high, they don’t have to use them.

Are there any losers?

You bet there are. The public is the big loser. The BCC and the MBBA forgot that Government management is always about providing the most services at the least cost to the public. There are 20,000 people who need the bridge and bypass daily. They will soon pay $9 round-trip, or about $2000 a year. Had bridge authorities paid attention to paying off debt, instead of expanding, we might have had a bridge with a 50 cent toll. That would have been a real boost to economic development, and real assistance to Okaloosans when times are tough.

Poor strategic planning caused this. The MBBA built its future on the idea of unlimited growth; that expansion was justified because more and more cars would use the bridge and bypass every year. Since 2005 there have been fewer and fewer cars paying tolls. In short, the MBBA is spending more and taking in less. The BCC, unquestioningly, went along with this.

Objective observers see the problem. Fitch’s bond rating agency rated MBBA bonds one step above junk. The State legislature is making rumblings about taking away the MBBA autonomy. Unfortunately, this is all too late as the money has been spent, and the debts will be unsustainable. Eventually, these massive costs will be spread out to all Florida taxpayers. They will then be hoisted on the Federal Government who will print money to pay for them. Meanwhile, the travelers and workers in the county will keep on paying high tolls forever.

The BCC can’t make up for 20 years of neglect, but it would be nice for once if they’d stop just going through the budget motions, and come to understand what they’ve done to the citizens they serve.

Pete Blome is a retired military officer and Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party