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Amendment 4’

Counties, cities launch anti-Amend 4 campaign

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida cities and counties have launched a “Tax Breaks 4 Snowbirds” campaign in opposition to Amendment 4, a proposed constitutional amendment with a smorgasbord of property tax breaks pushed by Realtors.

The Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties are fighting back against the Realtors, who’ve dumped more than $3.5 million into a campaign pushing the amendment that includes a cheeky “Tax Your Assets Off” marketing blitz.

“Amendment 4 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge, president of the FAC, said in a press release announcing the new campaign.

State economists predict the measure will cost more than $1.7 billion over four years. The loss in tax revenue will be shifted to local governments and long-time property owners, who already benefit from the state’s Save Our Homes cap but won’t gain from the new proposal, the counties and cities say.

But Realtors and other supporters of the amendment put on the ballot by the legislature say it will boost Florida’s real estate market. They say the state economists didn’t take into consideration the potential positive impact real estate sales the measure could bring.

Realtors move another $1.5 million into Amendment 4 pro-property tax campaign committee

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by Dara Kam

State and national Realtors associations pumped another $1.5 million into a campaign pushing a constitutional amendment limiting property taxes mainly for nonhomestead property owners, bringing to $3.5 million the groups have raised so far, according to campaign finance records.

The Florida Association of Realtors added another $1 million on Aug. 31 and the National Association of Realtors gave $500,000 on Sept. 5 to the “Taxpayers First” political committee, the records show. The Florida group had already dumped more than $2 million into the campaign, which includes a slick “Tax Your Assets Off” marketing blitz, urging a “yes” vote on Amendment 4.

Amendment 4 would save money for first-time home buyers, rental property owners and snowbirds, and it could cut taxes for homestead owners who lose value on their homes.

Local governments oppose the amendment, one of 11 put on the November ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature, which state economists say could cost schools, counties and cities about $1.7 billion over four years.

The Florida Association of Counties recently set up the “Citizens for Local Decision Making” political committee but haven’t reported any contributions yet, the campaign finance records show.

Hometown Democracy leader says she’s sorry for ‘step & fetch it’ e-mail

Monday, June 7th, 2010 by George Bennett

Hometown Democracy Chairwoman Lesley Blackner says she didn’t know the phrase “step & fetch it” carried negative racial connotations when she used it in an e-mail to a Volusia County official last month.

Hometown Democracy is behind Amendment 4, a statewide ballot question that would require local governments to get voter approval before making any amendment to a comprehensive land use plan. In a May 13 e-mail to the director of the Volusia Council of Governments, Blackner wrote “I’m only too aware of your step & fetch it for the Chamber of Commerce crowd opposing Amendment 4.”

Both Blackner and the person to whom she addressed the e-mail are white.

The phrase is generally associated with black actor Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, a Key West native who used the stage name Stepin Fetchit in portraying shuffling, mumbling, servile movie characters in the 1930s and ’40s.

Former South Bay Mayor Clarence Anthony, an Amendment 4 opponent who is black, issued a statement today blasting Blackner for using “a term that is historically synonymous with degrading, racist stereotypes.”

Blackner, 50, said “I’ve used the phrase for years and had no idea anybody thought it had any racial overtones. If Mr. Anthony is offended, I’m sorry….I tell you what, I won’t use that term any more.”

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