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My Word Column - Commission Action on "Paid Sick Leave" Initiative
Monday, September 17, 2012

My Word by Jacob V. Stuart
President, Central Florida Partnership
Thursday, September 13, 2012

In a startling editorial (see below), the Orlando Sentinel accused Orange County Commissioners of "dirty tricks" in a "surprise gambit to derail" the so-called "paid sick leave" petition. The Sentinel writes that the Commissioners who voted to take the time to correct the misleading, maybe even fraudulent, ballot language on the petition have "broken faith" with voters; nothing could be further from the truth.

The only "dirty trick" was the way the paid sick leave sponsors induced some 50,000 voters to sign the petition under false pretenses. Orange County Voters need and deserve honesty and integrity in every election; and the petition sponsors, by their own admission at this week's Public Hearing, agreed that the language was confusing.

A consortium of local, regional, and state business organizations recognized many weeks ago that the sponsors were luring voters to sign the petition to mandate "paid sick leave" with patently false and unfaithful promises. The petition said it would apply only to businesses; wrong, it will hit churches, charities, and civic groups while conveniently exempting local government. Last week in court, the paid sick leave sponsors argued that the admittedly misleading ballot question on the petition had to be fixed not by them, but by the Orange County Mayor and Commissioners.

Earlier this week, at the one and only Public Hearing about this matter; we all learned that the court agreed with the petition sponsors: the Orange County Commission has the legal duty to correct the fraudulent ballot language. There was no "dirty trick" by the Orange County Commission; in fact, the court said it was their obligation to undertake the legal analysis, to revise the ballot question; making sure it was honest and faithful with voters.

Orange County Voters should not be subjected to "bait-and-switch" false advertising; along these lines, I am confident many who signed the petition in good faith are now discovering that part-time teachers, part-time workers in cities and counties, part-time workers at state-supported colleges and universities, and part-time workers at all government agencies - none of them will quality for "paid sick leave."

We support the legal action taken by Judge John M. Kest, as do our six (6) Co-Plaintiffs and thirteen (13) Interveners representing the interests of small and large businesses, the hospitality and tourism industry, the residential and commercial construction industry, advanced manufacturing, chambers of commerce, and their employers who understand all too well that this measure is misleading and harmful to our economic recovery.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Orange County Commissioners "stepped up" and did what the law requires; and they deserve a hearty "thank you" for their service "above and beyond the call of duty."

Click here to read my comments to the Orange County Commission on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.

Orange leaders take harsh lumps for keeping sick-time off ballot

David Damron on September, 13 2012 4:24 PM

Orange County leaders Tuesday tried to snuff out a citizen-petition drive aimed at putting a sick leave measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

A 4-3 majority voted to delay it, which would basically push it well past ballot printing deadlines, and keep voters from weighing on it this fall. That majority included commissioners Scott Boyd, Fred Brummer, John Martinez and Jennifer Thompson. Here's more background on that.

That 4-3 majority said the month-long holdup would allow them time to find a less confusing ballot title and summary, an argument that business groups had also been making about the measure in court.

Stopping the measure was just what sick time opponents such as Walt Disney World and Darden Restaurants and various other business groups wanted.

"The peoples' voice was heard clearly," said Central Florida Partnership President Jacob Stuart after the board's vote.

But not everyone was happy about how it went down.

And some of the reactions to it have been strong, and not very kind.

The sick-time opponents at the Orlando Sentinel editorial board called the commissioners out for using its"bag of dirty tricks" to kill the proposal with an"underhanded maneuver."

"The commission's majority has broken faith with county voters. Is it any wonder that so many people are so cynical about their government?"

On The Philips Phile radio show on WTKS-104.1, Jim Philips said"it's essentially stepping on democracy." Philips said it looked like the commissioners and Mayor Teresa Jacobs were taking their cues from business interests.

"It is so apparent they are not paying any attention to the citizens," said Philips, a Jacobs supporter during her 2010 mayoral run. Philips talked about it with the Sentinel's Scott Maxwell Wednesday, and they both blasted the way it was handled.

Maxwell said it could wake the"sleeping giant" segment of the public that often doesn't pay attention to local politics.

On WMFE 90.7, the Orlando Weekly's Billy Manes was just as rough and blasted the"seven-hour circus" of a hearing on sick leave, saying it"set a new low for local government." Manes compared the Mayor Teresa Jacobs-run process to the type of"backroom" deal politics that make voters so cynical.

After seeing how Orange leaders treated the 50,000-petition signature drive to put a sick leave measure on the ballot, Manes said,"Now nobody believes in local government. Nor should they." Here's his full commentary.

A group supporting sick pay, Family Values @ Work, says in this piece that"this is what democracy does NOT look like."

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