POINT OF VIEW: Rely on own understanding of amendments before voting


The May 6 Point of View op-ed written by Brecht Heuchan, chairman of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, is a disingenuous crock of spin. Heuchan states that “omitting facts that are contrary to the desired effect is disingenuous” as he omits salient facts. He then goes on to list ideas that he describes as “wildly popular.” The spin arises when he fails to mention that these ideas are bundled with other ideas that may be very unpopular.

The description of one of the proposed amendments is: “Establishes school board term limits, allows state to operate non-board established schools, and requires civic literacy in public education.” Are “school board term limits wildly popular?” How about “allows state to operate non-board established schools…?” How many voters will immediately recognize that “non-board established schools” is a euphemism for charter schools and that the intent is to remove any control of charter schools from local school boards and hand it to the state? Heuchan claims that “The ballot language of these proposals is clear and easily understood.” Really?

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post weekly Opinion newsletter: Pbpo.st/opinionsignup

Another proposal reads: “Prohibits counties from abolishing certain local offices, changes start date of legislative sessions, and adds an executive office and executive department to constitution.” In plain English, this is another example of abolishing local control of how some counties, such as Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, choose officers such as the sheriff, the tax collector, the property appraiser, the clerk of the circuit court, etc. “The actual language is “to remove authority for a county charter or a special law to provide for choosing specified county officers in a manner other than election and to prohibit a county charter from abolishing specified county officers, transferring duties of a county officer to another officer or office, changing the length of terms of county officers, or establishing any manner of selection of county officers other than by election.” The two most important words are “remove authority.” The public had been given no explanation of why we need another executive office and executive department.

The description of a popular amendment is “prohibits betting on dog races,” while the actual language is “prohibits the racing of or wagering on greyhound and other dogs.” Will voters understand that they are eliminating dog racing or think they are eliminating only gambling on dogs?

Finally, it’s interesting to note the popular proposals that the commission refused to place on the ballot. These include banning military-type weapons and eliminating a loophole that disenfranchises millions of Floridians during primary elections by allowing write-in candidates who have no intention of actually running to close primary elections. This proposal was strongly supported by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.

In order to intelligently cast a vote on the constitutional amendments that will appear on the November ballot, it is critical that voters carefully study the real meaning of each prior to making decisions. We have to rely on local newspapers throughout the state to provide the critical information.

MARIE GOTTFRIED, LAKE WORTH



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Should U.S.-Saudi alliance be saved?

Over the weekend Donald Trump warned of “severe punishment” if an investigation concludes that a Saudi hit team murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh then counter-threatened, reminding us that, as the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia “plays an impactful and active...
Opinion: Why Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care what they say about her

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — “Do whatever you have to do. Just win, baby.” Nancy Pelosi’s feisty, candid and pragmatic words to Harvard students on Tuesday reflected the House Democratic leader’s full adaptation to the role of designated dart board for House Republicans. She granted full absolution to party hopefuls who think they&rsquo...
Opinion: If a prince murders a journalist, that’s not a hiccup

The reports about Jamal Khashoggi, the missing Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor, whom I’ve known for more than 15 years, grow steadily more sickening. Turkey claims to have audiotape of Saudi interrogators torturing Jamal and killing him in the Saudi Consulate. None of this is confirmed, and we still don’t know exactly what...
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

CARTOON VIEW DREW SHENEMAN
Letters: Lots to appreciate in Palm Beach County besides the beaches
Letters: Lots to appreciate in Palm Beach County besides the beaches

Our paradise goes well beyond beaches I am glad to see that someone recognizes the beauty and recreational value of Palm Beach County for something besides the beaches. The natural beauty of unoccupied local, county, state and federal lands in and around Palm Beach County amounts to hundreds of thousands of acres. It is a real and free experience to...
More Stories