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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009 10 years ago

Our View: Still time to kill health bills


Americans don’t want the $1 trillion Obama-Pelosi-Reid health-care bill.

Not because they don’t want health-care reform. But because they don’t want unaffordable, debt-ridden, government-controlled, health-care reform.

U.S. taxpayers cannot carry any more national debt. Next year, our gross public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product will reach 100%. And that’s not even counting the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare. In one year, our annual federal deficit rose from an extraordinary $400 billion to an astronomical $1.6 trillion. And that’s even before Congress approved any new health-care spending.

Stop Congress from adopting this national disaster.

Asked what still can be done to stop Congress from bankrupting us under the guise of health-care reform, says Richard Scott, founder of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights and owner of a Florida-based chain of urgent-care centers:

“The key is to continue to educate Americans about the bills and then get them to call their senators and congressmen and women. Americans are opposed to these bills.”

Speak out, Longboaters. Don’t let Congress ruin our and our children and grandchildren’s economic futures any more than it already has.

For a simple explanation of why this legislation must be killed, read the text of a recent political cartoon by Michael Ramirez of Ramirez drew eight panels with President Obama saying:

“Government can fix health care. Just look at Medicare and Medicaid.
“OK, they’re broke, but look at Social Security.
“OK, it’s broke, but look at the U.S. Post Office.
“OK, it’s broke, but look at Amtrak.
“OK, it’s broke, but look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“OK, they’re broke, but look at my budget.
“OK, it’s $1.6 trillion in the red, but … ”

Call your congressman.

+ Modernize Town Hall
Longboat Key Commissioner Gene Jaleski is right. The town’s building department could and should be a lot more technologically efficient and user-friendly.

In a memo to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis, Jaleski credits the building department as being professional and friendly, but he goes on to write:

“We have a medieval business process involving too many paper forms, inefficient communications and a lack of a clearly defined processes in many areas of our permitting and code-compliance requirements.

“I have included a link to one company of many that specializes in online, clear, efficient management of the various aspects of municipal permitting and code enforcement ( …

“I believe we need to attempt to enter the 21st century … to make things easier for our business community as well as for all the future homeowners who will be spending tens of millions of dollars to rebuild Longboat Key in the next decade.”

Jaleski recommends three goals:

1) Reduce the number of trips contractors and citizens make to Town Hall to complete building-permit forms and applications. He says these should be online, along with credit-card payments.

2) List online all required forms and create a Web site that allows those forms to be completed and submitted online.

3) Create online notifications between town staff and applicants and establish an online help desk to help reduce and eliminate unneeded trips to Town Hall and improve turnaround times on application approvals.
A few years ago, Longboat Key’s building and IT departments won accolades in government circles for their innovative communications system that notifies contractors of the status of their permits. Jaleski’s recommendations would be a logical extension of this.

There’s no debate required. St. Denis should get this done ASAP.

+ Crist twists the truth
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is now trying to paint his opponent, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, as someone who favored increasing taxes. Said Crist Monday: “Let’s make sure the words meet the facts. I don’t believe in raising taxes. I’m running against someone who wanted to.”

Crist apparently is referring to Rubio’s support of Amendment 5 in 2008 — often referred to then as the Tax Swap Amendment.

Like most shifty, sound-bite politicians, Crist is not telling the whole story. In fact, Rubio strongly supported the Tax Swap Amendment because it would have eliminated Florida’s worst tax — the state-imposed, local school-property tax. This is Florida’s stealth tax, the one state lawmakers raise every year without taxpayers noticing. Local school boards get blamed. From 2001 to 2007, this tax grew three times faster than the combined growth rates of inflation and student enrollment.

In exchange for eliminating the state’s school-property tax, the Tax Swap Amendment would have required state lawmakers to adopt legislation to replace the lost school revenue. One of the choices at the time was to increase the state sales tax 1%.

What Crist will never explain to voters about this amendment — which he opposed — is that it would have re-ignited Florida’s economy with a vengeance.

Eliminating the school tax would have cut $8 billion to $9 billion in school property taxes statewide — putting that money back in consumers’ and businesses’ hands and simultaneously increasing the value and net worth of Florida’s property owners by $80 billion! An instant increase in wealth.

When Florida economist Hank Fishkind analyzed swapping the school tax with, say, an increased sales tax of 8 cents, the results, Fishkind said, “will be very stimulative to investment and employment.”

Don’t let Gov. Crist’s words fool you. For Pete’s sake, he’s a career politician!


How to contact your senators and congressman to stop the proposed health-care reform:

• U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Fax: 202-228-2183

• U.S. Sen. George Lemieux
356 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Fax: 202-228-5171

• Rep. Vern Buchanan
218 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C., 20515
Phone: 202-225-5015
Fax: 202-226-0828

Longboat Key Commissioner George Spoll presented the following information on commissioners’ terms at the Dec. 7 Town Commission meeting. Spoll and Commissioner Jim Brown voted against a new
interpretation of the town’s term-limits charter amendment, which now allows Mayor Lee Rothenberg to run for re-election, extending his years of incumbency to a potential seven years and five months. The town’s term-limit law allows three consecutive terms.


Jim Brown                     3/09-3/11                    2                             4                                      6-yr. potential
Gene Jaleski                 3/09-3/11                    2                             4                                      6-yr. potential
Hal Lenobel                   3/08-3/10                   2                             4                                      6-yr. potential
Peter O’Connor             1/06-3/10                   4 yrs., 2 mo.            2                                 6-yr., 2-mo. potential
Lee Rothenberg            10/04-3/10                 5 yrs., 5 mo.            0                                      5-yr., 5-mo. total
Bob Siekmann               3/06-3/10                   4                             2                                      6-yr. potential
George Spoll                 12/05-3/11                 6 yrs., 3 mo.            0                                      6-yr., 3 mo. total

Commissioners Brown, Jaleski, Lenobel and Siekmann, if re-elected, will serve six years, or 100% of the requisite six-year limitation, as well as three consecutive terms allowed by the Town Charter.
Commissioner O’Connor, if re-elected, will serve six years, two months, or just less than 103% of the requisite six-year limitation, as well as three consecutive terms allowed by the Town Charter.
Commissioner Rothenberg will serve five years, five months, or just more than 90% of the requisite six-year limitation as well as the three consecutive terms allowed by the Town Charter.
Commissioner Spoll will serve six years, three months, or just more than 104% of the requisite six-year limitation, as well as the three consecutive terms allowed by the Town Charter.

After changing the interpretation of the charter:

If Mayor Rothenberg is re-elected, he would be eligible to serve seven years and five months, or nearly 125% of the requisite six-year limitation and four consecutive terms instead of three consecutive terms per the Town Charter.
A future commissioner, if appointed to a seat vacated early after an election, could serve not only four consecutive terms, but nearly eight years, 133% of the requisite six-year limitation allowed by the Town Charter.

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