Monday, February 17, 2014

Grimsley and the petty arrrogance of power

Following the lead attack by Rep. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), Sen. Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring) has launched the second salvo against Florida's voter-initiated and -approved 8-year term limits law.

Last week, Grimsley introduced a slightly different Senate version of Perry's bill to weaken the legislative term limits from eight to 12 years. Surely she recalls the bill passing in 1992 with 77 percent of the vote. Surely she has done sufficient homework to find recent polling showing that Floridians' love of term limits is undimmed. Surely, she has seen the negative reaction Rep. Perry has received from the public.

But there is a hubris that comes from holding office too long that blinds politicians. Legislators feel that they are irreplacable and hence are disdainful of the democratic tradition of rotation. Sen. Grimsley served eight years in the House and now wants an additional 12 years in the Senate. Oh, and she'd like a longer term so she doesn't have to face the voters as often.

It is pretty clear why. Voters are disgusted with this kind of self-serving behavior and she doesn't want to hear it. She hears the higher call of her career and of the special interests that further it.

Sen. Grimsely has figured out the professional politicians' path to career success.  Once in power, keeping it is a simple process. It requires little more than taking out one's Rolodex, reassuring the special interests that you're still on board and accepting their checks. Nearly all PAC money goes to the incumbents. The powers of the incumbency and its daunting purse chases away meaningful competition. She doesn't want to be bothered with the rubes of her district and their shabby interests.

In 2005-06, when self-interested politicians last made a serious attempt to ditch our 8-year term limits, there was such an outcry the anti-term limits amendment bill was repealed shortly after it passed.  Sen. Grimsley, Rep. Keith Perry and the rest of the legislature need to hear from us right now.

Check out Sunday's op-ed by Nick Tomboulides in Highland Today -- Sen. Grimsely's hometown paper -- where he takes her to task for her arrogance. For regular updates, be sure also to LIKE the Save Florida Term Limits Facebook page.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Perry attack on term limits stirs controversy in hometown

In Sunday's Gainesville Sun, I make the case in an op-ed that Rep. Keith Perry's (R-Gainesville) bill to weaken Florida term limits from eight to 12 years is an effort to benefit legislators at the expense of citizens.

"The results during Florida's term limits era have been good. Legislatures are like marriages, in that they are all dysfunctional in their own special way. But some are definitely better than others — and Florida's is pretty good. In a 2013 ranking of states by their fiscal condition — an outcome highly influenced by government policy — the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked Florida as sixth in the nation. Incidentally, five of the top 10 states in this ranking have eight-year term limits on their legislatures. So, it must be asked again, why is Rep. Perry launching this attack on eight-year term limits?"
The answer isn't flattering to Rep. Perry. Perry is a successful businessman who got the opportunity to run because Speaker Larry Cretul reached his 8-year limit in the House. Now, it appears Rep. Perry wants to cut the ladder off beneath him.
Perry rationalizes this in a straight piece in today's Gainesville Sun.  He claims eight years isn't sufficient to master the complexities of being a Florida legislator. Eight-year limits are, however, the most common in the United States from the president, to governors, to state legislatures, to county commissions and mayors. He does not explain what makes being a Florida legislator so particularly daunting.
Hint: It isn't.
Fortunately, I was provided a chance to respond. "Blumel said that when politicians say eight years is too short, people should keep in mind that the Florida Senate is made up of many former members of the state House of Representatives who possess considerable legislative experience, while the lower chamber has more political newcomers who provide better representation of the citizenry."
Instead of focusing on the centerpiece of the legislation, the weakening of term limits, Perry instead focuses on the fact the bill also lengthens the terms themselves from two to four in the House and four to six in the Senate. But these are just window dressing. Legislators have tried to loosen their limits numerous times and continue to test new angles to slip this idea by voters.
Perhaps the best quote in the article isn't by Rep. Perry or me. It is by Alachua County Democratic Party Chairman Robert Prather.
"We're disappointed that Rep. Perry seems more interested in protecting jobs in Tallahassee... than ... Gainesville, Alachua County and Dixie," Prather said.
For the complete articles, see Blumel op-ed and Perry news article.