Monday, November 12, 2007

Local Elected Officials - Please Stand Up

This past week has given us some important pieces of information about the voter mind set in Florida. I hope our local elected officials throughout the state will take a close look at the tea leaves and then do something very important. Stand up!

Municipal elections were held throughout Florida last week. In St. Petersburg, two incumbents were on the ballot. Both were reelected. One of them, Jamie Bennett, through a quirk of fate and St. Pete's wacky election code, was actually running against "New Election ". That's about as straight up a "throw the bum out" choice as you are going to get. Bennett won with 82% of the vote.

In Largo, only one incumbent was on the ballot. Largo is an interesting place because earlier this year, Largo used the super majority authority the legislature granted, and did not roll back its property taxes as much as it was otherwise required to do. The incumbent, Harriet Crozier, won with 72% of the vote.

The other interesting news came from a poll commissioned by various Florida media, including the St. Petersburg Times. This poll is not a pretty picture for the Republican run Florida Legislature. Only 53% of respondents said they would vote yes on their proposed property tax constitutional amendment. Typically this is perceived as the kiss of death.
That's because the initial polling for an amendment usually is the high water point for it's poll numbers. And remember, constitutional amendments now require a 60% super majority vote to pass.

But it gets worse for the legislators. 44% of respondents believe Florida is on the wrong track. Only 34% believe we are on the right track. A whopping 77% of respondents rated the legislature's performance on property tax relief as only fair or poor.

But here is the crux of the legislature's real problem. Fully 77% of respondents believe they will see little, if any, property insurance relief as a result of our legislature's reforms of earlier this year. In my opinion, this is something the legislators have known all along. And that is why they have been on this unending campaign to demonize local elected officials as "spending like drunken sailors." They needed to do something to take the heat off them for their failure on property insurance reform.

Now is the time for our local elected officials to stand up. Stand up and tell your constituents to let their legislators know what they really think of their cockamamie property tax reform efforts. The election results tell you that the voters like what you incumbents have been doing. The poll results tell you the legislature's credibility is in the toilet.

Stand up and push back. The voters are on your side.

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