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Dem boss shrugs at Aaronson’s call for jailing Republicans, says Obama foes unlike anti-Bush crowd

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel says County Commissioner Burt Aaronson‘s recent call for Republicans to be thrown in jail for opposing President Obama‘s agenda was harmless rhetoric.

“People are allowed flights of political metaphor,” Siegel said Wednesday outside the Kravis Center, where about 80 Democratic and union activists protested Texas Gov. Rick Perry‘s appearance for a fundraiser.

PostOnPolitics asked Siegel if he would have had the same reaction a few years ago if a Republican elected official had suggested that opponents of George W. Bush be sent to the hoosegow.

Siegel rejected any parallel.


Aaronson: Republicans ‘all should be put in jail’ for trying to ‘destroy’ country, Obama

Sunday, September 18th, 2011 by George Bennett

So much for the “Dissent Is Patriotic” talk that was popular with Dems during the George W. Bush era.

Trying to fire up the crowd at Saturday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Party fundraising dinner, County Commissioner Burt Aaronson suggested a new way of dealing with President Obama‘s foes:

Click here to hear the audio.

“You know, if a ballplayer threw a game and they get caught, they go to jail. Well, what are we going to do to the Republicans who are throwing the country?

“They’re throwing our country, and they all should be put in jail for what they’re doing, because they’re destroying our country, because they said at the beginning our one mission is to get rid of President Obama. That was their mission. They don’t care how much they destroy other people. They don’t care whether you go to work. They don’t care about anything.

“All they want to do is destroy the president. And in destroying the president of the United States, you destroy our country. They should be put in jail, each and every one of them, for throwing the country.”

Defying history, Palm Beach County Democrats ponder incumbent protection

Monday, September 5th, 2011 by George Bennett

As Palm Beach County’s Democratic Party considers a measure to protect incumbents from “unnecessary” primary challenges, it’s worth noting that some of the biggest local Democratic names of the last two decades were once outsiders who challenged incumbents in Democratic primaries.

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler first gained office by ousting Democratic incumbent Don Childers in a 1990 state Senate primary. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein‘s electoral debut was unseating Steve Press in a 1992 Democratic state House primary. County Commissioner Burt Aaronson won his seat by toppling Carole Phillips in a 1992 Democratic primary.

After giving up her state House seat in 1992 to pursue a failed congressional bid, Lois Frankel made a comeback in 1994 by challenging the one-term incumbent who had replaced her, former Frankel aide Mimi McAndrews, and defeating her in a memorably bitter Democratic primary.

Facing state House term limits in 2000, Addie Greene set her sights on the county commission and pushed aside veteran incumbent Maude Ford Lee in a Democratic primary.

State Rep. Irving Slosberg first gained office in 2000 by beating incumbent Curt Levine in a Democratic state House primary.

Tax Collector Anne Gannon made a failed try to defeat incumbent Suzanne Jacobs in a 1994 Democratic state House primary. Before winning his seat in 2010, state Rep. Steve Perman tried and failed to oust Richard Machek in a 2006 Democratic state House primary.

Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher won her nonpartisan office in 2008 by defeating incumbent and fellow Democrat Arthur Anderson.

Marcus says she’s not trying to anoint successor — at least not yet

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 by George Bennett


Term-limited Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson is unabashedly throwing his weight behind top aide Mary Lou Berger in the 2012 race for Aaronson’s south-county District 5 seat. But Commissioner Karen Marcus says she hasn’t decided whether she’ll support anyone for the north-county District 1 seat she’s represented since 1984.

“I’ll talk to some of my residents and see what they want my role to be,” Marcus said today.

Marcus denied a rumor she’s trying to persuade Riviera Beach Councilwoman Dawn Pardo to run.

“I haven’t even talked to Dawn,” said Marcus. Referring to Boca Raton conservative activist Jack Furnari‘s recent blog post that mentioned the Marcus-Pardo rumor, Marcus said, “That’s people in the south county that think they know what’s going on up here. But they really don’t know.”

Pardo hasn’t returned calls to comment on whether she’s interested in running.

Does term limits ruling mean end of the line for commission veterans Marcus, Aaronson?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 by George Bennett

In a case Palm Beach County has been watching closely, the Fourth District Court of Appeals today reversed a Broward County judge’s ruling and upheld that county’s voter-approved term limits law for county commissioners.

Palm Beach County’s term limits law has not been challenged. But the 4th DCA has jurisdiction over Palm Beach County, so a ruling overturning Broward term limits would have also overturned Palm Beach County’s limits.

It’s likely today’s ruling will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court by foes of term limits.

Palm Beach County Commissioners Karen Marcus (elected in 1984) and Burt Aaronson (elected in 1992) both face term limits in 2012. Marcus has said she’d consider running for an eighth term and Aaronson said he’d definitely run for a sixth term if term limits were overturned.

King Burt? As Aaronson ponders sixth term, Dem activist blasts pols who think they’re ‘royalty’

Monday, May 16th, 2011 by George Bennett


Democratic activist Rick Neuhoff, on the possibility that he’ll be running against five-term Palm Beach County commissioner Burt Aaronson in 2012, says: “I think any time that any elected official has been in office for so long that they proclaim themselves royalty, that’s a problem.”

Read about it in this week’s Politics column, where you’ll also find:


* How long it took Aaronson, a critic of long wait times at Tax Collector offices, to get his driver license renewed last week.

* Which two local Dems were singled out for criticism amid all the Rick Scott and GOP bashing at last week’s “Awake the State” rally.

* What might lead former Lake Worth city commissioner Cara Jennings to run for mayor in next month’s special election.

Aaronson ‘definitely’ seeking reelection in 2012 if term limits law is abolished

Friday, May 13th, 2011 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson says he’ll seek a sixth term in 2012 if courts strike down the county’s voter-approved term limits law.

“Definitely I’ll run again…if it’s allowed,” Aaronson said this morning.

Aaronson, who turns 83 next week, has said in the past that he’d consider running for reelection if county term limits are abolished. He’s also flirted with a Democratic primary challenge of Tax Collector Anne Gannon.

More than 70 percent of Palm Beach County voters in 2002 approved a law limiting commissioners to two four-year terms. For Aaronson, who was first elected in 1992, the term limits clock started ticking in 2004, meaning he’s ineligible to run again in 2012. But a Broward County ruling that struck down term limits there could end up invalidating Palm Beach County’s law if an appeals court upholds the Broward decision. A final ruling could come later this year.

Democratic activist Rick Neuhoff is the only candidate who has opened a 2012 for Aaronson’s seat.

Aaronson to Dems: ‘Being a Democrat, I don’t think taxes are a dirty word’

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson told a county Democratic Executive Committee meeting tonight that people need to speak up about the county budget as commissioners decide what level of taxes to levy and services to provide.

“I know what I want to do, I want to give you the services,” Aaronson told the audience of about 100 Democratic activists west of Delray Beach.

“But if you tell me that you don’t want the services, you’re willing to cut back, and you don’t want to go to the library seven days a week — cut it down to two days — and if you don’t want the children to have the lights in the park, and you don’t want to have as many sheriff’s deputies on the road, you tell me, then I’ll know what to do.

“But I think, being a Democrat, I don’t think taxes are a dirty word. Taxes are what makes the world go ’round. And we are not Republicans, so we have to think a little differently. And if we have to take another buck out of our pocket, we want the people to have, we want the children to have,” the five-term incumbent said.

Shouts and storm-outs as county Democrats discuss censuring Aaronson, Sachs, Vana

Friday, December 3rd, 2010 by George Bennett

After more than an hour of heated discussion, the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee voted to send a “brisk” letter of disapproval to Democrats (from left) Aaronson, Sachs and Vana for endorsing Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race.

Carole Pollack was inducted as a Palm Beach County Democratic precinct captain Thursday night. Less than two hours later, after listening to party members shout each other down and seeing several walk out in protest, Pollack herself was storming out of a Democratic Executive Committee meeting in West Delray saying she might never return.

Pollack witnessed an intramural Democratic bloodbath over whether the party should take action against Democratic County Commissioners Burt Aaronson and Shelley Vana and state Sen. Maria Sachs for bucking the party and endorsing Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist in the Nov. 2 U.S. Senate race.

Committee members who stayed to the bitter end rejected a motion to censure the elected officials but voted to authorize a committee to send a “brisk” letter telling them of their disapproval.

Pollack didn’t stick around for the final vote.

“This is the first time I’ve been here. I’m not sure that it won’t be the last. I’m very upset by what I’m seeing here,” she told the party activists who met at Temple Emeth.


What happens when Democratic activists snub ‘Godfather’ Aaronson?

Monday, November 29th, 2010 by George Bennett


Palm Beach County Democratic “zone leaders” Nate and Harriet Smith oversee get-out-the-vote efforts in about 90 precincts. The Smiths were upset that County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, a.k.a. the Godfather of south county Democratic politics, bucked the party and endorsed Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist in the recent U.S. Senate race.

So the Smiths turned their chairs around in protest when Aaronson spoke at a recent nonpartisan Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations meeting.

Find out what happened next in this week’s Politics column.

Will court toss Palm Beach County term limits?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 by George Bennett

More than 70 percent of Palm Beach County voters approved term limits for county commissioners in 2002. No one has challenged the law in court. But a Broward County decision has called Palm Beach County’s law into question.

If Palm Beach County’s law gets tossed, seven-term incumbent Karen Marcus and five-termer Burt Aaronson could run for reelection in 2012. So far, neither one is ruling it out.

Read about it in this week’s Politics column.

Aaronson says Scott pleaded fifth more times than Capone, terrorist

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 by Andrew Abramson

Democratic County Commissioner Burt Aaronson is never one to mince words, and at a campaign event for Alex Sink on Thursday at Century Village, Aaronson railed against Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott.

Sink, addressing an audience of senior citizens, repeatedly referred to Scott pleading the fifth amendment 75 times at a deposition regarding fraud at Columbia/HCA. Scott was CEO of Columbia, the company that was fined a national-record $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.

While the company was charged with fraud, Scott was never personally charged.

After Sink’s speech, Aaronson joked to the audience that Scott pleaded the fifth so many times, “I think he took a fifth (of liquor) at times. He was drunk.”

Aaronson then said Scott pleaded the fifth more times than notorious 1920s gangster Al Capone and Pakistani terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Dem commissioner nears decision on whether to stick with Meek

Monday, October 4th, 2010 by George Bennett

Aaronson: watching polls

Aaronson: watching polls

When Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson expressed his support for Democratic Senate nominee Kendrick Meek in early September, he said he might reconsider around Oct. 1 and back independent Charlie Crist if Meek continued to be a distant third in the polls and appeared unable to defeat Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio.

Oct. 1 came last week with Meek continuing to trail Rubio and Crist. Aaronson made no announcement. This morning, Aaronson said he’ll decide next week — before the Oct. 18 beginning of early voting.

“I’ll make my decision between the 11th and the 15th. I’m looking at the polls very closely,” Aaronson said.

Aaronson and Crist are both expected at Wednesday’s Alliance of Delray Residential Associations meeting, but Aaronson said no one-on-one meeting with Crist is planned.

Aaronson says Meek must prove viability or Dems will consider Crist

Monday, September 6th, 2010 by George Bennett

Palm Beach County Commissioner and influential Democrat Burt Aaronson didn’t voice support for the party’s Senate nominee, Kendrick Meek, until an activist in the audience put him on the spot at a party “unity rally” last Thursday night in West Delray.

“I’m supporting Kendrick,” Aaronson replied.

But for how long?

Aaronson says Dems should consider indie Gov. Charlie Crist if Meek continues to be a distant third in the polls.

Read about it in this week’s Politics column.

Aaronson on latest colleague-turned-felon: ‘There was nothing to clean up’

Friday, August 13th, 2010 by George Bennett



Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson was on a cruise last week when Jeff Koons became the fourth commissioner in four years to plead guilty to a felony charge.

His reaction? Outrage.

“I leave this damn city for one week and all hell breaks loose,” Aaronson said at Thursday’s Tourist Development Council meeting. “In my opinion, there was nothing to clean up.”

Read more here.

Democrat Aaronson urges party loyalty in governor’s race, not necessarily in Senate contest

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 by George Bennett

Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson wants Bud Chiles to drop his no-party bid for governor, telling the son of the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles in a letter that his candidacy could hurt Democrat Alex Sink and help elect Republican Bill McCollum or Rick Scott.

“Our job is to have a Democratic governor,” Aaronson said of the letter to Chiles that he co-signed with county Democratic Party Treasurer Bob Diffenderfer. “We love him (Bud Chiles) and his father was great, but this is not helping the Democrats elect a governor.”

Aaronson’s concern about a no-party candidate taking votes from a Democrat in a statewide race doesn’t necessarily extend to the U.S. Senate contest, where independent Gov. Charlie Crist so far is drawing considerable Democratic support at the expense of Dem Kendrick Meek or Jeff Greene.

“I look at that race slightly differently,” Aaronson said Tuesday. “I look at that race to make sure we don’t have (Republican Senate candidate) Marco Rubio.”

Aaronson said he won’t know the best way to block Rubio until after the Aug. 24 Democratic primary.

“We have three people in the primary (Meek, Greene and former Miami Mayor and health care “capitation” advocate Maurice Ferre). So I want to see what happens in the primary before we do anything.”

PBC Commish Chairman Aaronson pleads with Crist to let $175K in budget stand

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Burt Aaronson asked Gov. Charlie Crist to keep the lid on his veto pen regarding $175,000 in the state budget for the county’s juvenile assessment center.

Crist, who has until Friday to use his line-item veto on the $70 billion budget, is expected to axe tens of millions of dollars in local projects tucked into the state spending plan. His office is finishing up work on the budget today and is likely to release the final product tomorrow.

The $175,000 is part of a $25.3 million project to design and build a new complex that will house both the county juvenile assessment center and the juvenile detention center and was recommended by state Department of Juvenile Justice.

“We believe housing these two facilities together will enable the Department to provide wraparound services to at-risk families and will lead to increased efficiency in meeting the needs of these children,” Aaronson wrote in a letter to Crist sent yesterday.

The funding is a county priority, Aaronson wrote, to replace the current assessment center shared by the school district, DJJ, the county, the state attorney and others.

DJJ currently leases space from the airport and subleases it to the other agencies, but the lease is scheduled to expire soon.

Meek makes long-awaited Palm Beach County appearance tonight

Friday, May 14th, 2010 by George Bennett



Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek will be at the South County Civic Center in West Delray this evening for an event aimed at introducing him to grassroots Democrats — many of whom have complained they haven’t seen Meek in the vote-rich condo belt.

It’s a fund-raiser with a $20.10-a-head minimum intended to draw a big crowd.

Meek hasn’t spent much time campaigning in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County, fueling speculation that he’ll lose Democratic votes to Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist in the Senate race.



County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, who’s traditionally been regarded as an important Democratic gatekeeper, said Meek contacted him for the first time this week. Aaronson this week said he’s undecided in the Democratic primary between party establishment favorite Meek and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre (who has spoken with Aaronson twice) and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene (who entered the race April 30 and has already reached out to Aaronson).

Some key Dems uncommitted as Meek heads to Palm Beach County

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by George Bennett

With Democratic Senate frontrunner Kendrick Meek coming to West Delray on Friday to campaign and solidify support with the party’s base, Palm Beach County Commissioner and alpha-Democrat Burt Aaronson is advising party voters to “keep their powder dry” in the primary.

Delray Beach Democratic operative Andre Fladell, the volleyball-playing chiropractor who’s sort of an unofficial buckle on the Palm Beach County condo belt, goes even further, saying he and some other Dems are willing to talk to Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist about supporting his third-party bid for U.S. Senate.


Red-light camera bill heads to Crist

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

A bill that would end eight years of disputes over red-light cameras is on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist’s desk.

The Senate gave final approval to the measure (HB 325) with a 30-7 vote just before noon. The House passed it last week with a 77-33 vote.

The bill would allow cities and counties to use the cameras, set fines at $158 per ticket and possibly put an end to court cases challenging local governments’ issuance of tickets without a state rule backing them up.

The proposal is Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson’s number one priority because of an accident nearly a decade ago in which several Palm Beachers were killed in an intersection collision.


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