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‘Nullifers’ revolt creates tea party divide

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A group of tea party organizations is apologizing for what they called “disrespectful and inappropriate behavior by some conservative activists at a Senate committee meeting earlier this week.

Leaders of more than a dozen Florida-based tea party groups – including Palm Beach County Tea Party’s Pam Wohlschlegel – signed off on a letter sent the apology to senators today while asking lawmakers not to create a state-based health insurance exchange. That was the issue that drove dozens of tea partiers led by lawyer KrisAnne Hall, who later got into it with Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. Hall and others were demanding the state “nullify” the federal health care act, upheld this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Our compatriots were responding from an over-abundance of passion for freedom. They were spontaneously trying to participate in a process that has been frustrating and opaque for years and their response was not pre-meditated and not intended to interfere in your process,” the leaders wrote today. “However, speaking over a sitting Senator who is using his allotted time to represent his constituents is unacceptable. We cannot allow basic rules of civil conduct to be violated and we will endeavor to ask our fellow patriots to respect the process in ways we ask to be respected as well. We stand ready to assist you in your efforts to protect the natural rights of Floridians protected by the Florida and U.S. constitution to life, liberty and property.”

Some of the tea partiers at the Senate committee’s Monday meeting interrupted and booed Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. Smith pointed out that the U.S. Constitution is an “imperfect document” that had to be amended to do away with slavery.

Gaetz further angered Hall with a history lesson about Andrew Jackson that included a reference about shooting and hanging Civil War-era “nullifiers” that launched an Internet firestorm.

Scott, a tea party favorite

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott drew cheers from a tea party rally on the steps of the Old Capitol when he pledged, “the right things are happening,” and urged the 300 activists to keep the heat on Tallahassee.

“We’ve got the next 60 days,” Scott said on the Legislature’s opening day, as a similar crowd opposing his budget proposal rallied across the street. “We’ve got to make sure we finish strong. Show up every day, and let everyone know what you believe in. Don’t be hesitant, don’t be shy.”

Scott hinted he needed help from the crowd of conservative activists to get his pension-cutting, government-shrinking budget approved by fellow Republicans in the Legislature. The crowd roared.

“Thanks for working for us,” shouted Jack Pritchard, 70 a retired mechanical contractor from Marion County.

Scott kept talking, “The right things are happening because of you,” the governor said.

Worst budget year and ideology drives GOP cuts

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Facing the worst budget year in memory, new Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-packed Florida Legislature begin the 2011 session this week, pledging to slash spending and make good on campaign pledges that powered them last fall.

With the approach of the opening day Tuesday, unions, teachers and scores of groups in the cross hairs of budget cuts have been rallying against Scott and fellow Republican leaders who, in turn, are pulling support from tea party loyalists eager to shrink government.

Though it hasn’t commanded the national attention of Wisconsin and other partisan battlegrounds, purple state Florida is in for a bruising spring, with lawmakers looking to close a $3.6 billion budget hole and revive an economy flat-lined by an almost 12 percent jobless rate.

“Priority number one is the budget,” said House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park. “Everything else is number two.”

But it’s not a simple numbers game.

Political ideology is shading most of the exchanges between Republicans in power and Democrats pushed to Florida’s fringe by the November elections.

Read full story here:   http://bit.ly/fY27Vb

 

 

Rallies from left to right mark session opening

Friday, March 4th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Organizers across the political spectrum Friday began taking aim at the state Capitol for next week’s opening of the two-month legislative session.

The Facebook-drive Awake The State protest has about 30 rallies planned Tuesday from Key West to Pensacola — with critics of Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature’s budget-cutting the focus.

 Teachers, government employees, cops and firefighters form the core of those pushing back against proposed pension overhauls, but expected reductions in schools and health-care programs are drawing more opponents, said Damien Filer of Progress Florida.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people who say, `this is going to be my first rally of any kind,’” Filer said. “I’ll be interested to see what kind of momentum remains among people after next week.”

A West Palm Beach rally is planned from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, in the 100 block of Clematis Street.

Tea Party activists expect to counter-punch, with several thousand Scott supporters expected in Tallahassee. (more…)

Bondi’s move on rights continues to draw pushback

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Sen. Arthenia Joyner of  Tampa and Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston on Friday renewed Democratic call for Attorney General Pam Bondi to drop her push to tighten Florida’s standards for restoring civil rights to felons after they completed their sentences.

 ”With a staggering unemployment rate of 12 percent, I’d think the attorney general would want to support any effort to help Floridians who have fully paid their debts to society, to find work,”  Rich said.

In a shocker for civil rights advocates and Democrats, Attorney General Pam Bondi is looking to undo Florida’s limited automatic restoration of rights for felons. Bondi said she was likely to have a proposal to put before Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet next month.

“I don’t believe any felon should have an automatic restoration of rights,” the Republican Cabinet member told reporters Thursday morning. “I believe you should have to ask, and there should be an appropriate waiting period” of three to five years.

Joyner, though, said she felt Bondi’s move was aimed at placating tough-on-crime tea party advocates.

“From fighting Floridians access to family doctors, to withholding civil rights, it seems the Republican politicians are more interestedin hurting Florida than helping her,” Joyner said Friday.

Armey urges Tea Party activists to press Nelson on health care

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 by George Bennett

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey with singer Lloyd Marcus at a Tea Party rally today. TAYLOR JONES/Staff Photographer

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey with singer Lloyd Marcus at a Tea Party rally today. TAYLOR JONES/Staff Photographer

PALM BEACH GARDENS — After drawing big crowds to Tax Day protests, town hall meetings and a march on Washington, the Tea Party movement can’t rest on its laurels, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey told a lunchtime gathering of activists here.

Armey, chairman of the Washington-based FreedomWorks group that has helped coordinate Tea Party protests, said conservative activists must continue to fight against an expanded government role in health care and then prepare for a fight on a cap-and-trade environmental bill.

“We’ve got the bad guys on the run,” Armey told a crowd of about 150 that crammed the patio of the Yard House restaurant.

“We have given the massive great big government takeover of health care a TKO for the time being. But they’re not going to go away empty handed,” Armey said.

(more…)

Health care crowds: “Community organizing” to some is “manufactured anger” to others

Sunday, August 16th, 2009 by George Bennett

Something’s going on when organizers of a health care forum on a summer weekday wonder if they’ll have enough room in the 500-seat South County Civic Center.

As members of Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation prepare to hear from constituents on health care reforms this week, click here to read how groups on the left and right are urging their activists to turn out and be heard on the issue.

Read details about the public forums.

Tea Party group encourages ‘hard questions’ for Klein, but event organizers say otherwise

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by George Bennett

Klein

Klein

Bring “hard questions” — and some non-perishable food.

That’s the advice from one group encouraging opponents of Democratic health care overhaul efforts to show up at a Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations meeting next week where U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, is scheduled to speak.

But those hoping to grill Klein may be disappointed. COBWRA President Ken Lassiter says visitors and their non-perishable food donations are indeed welcome at his group’s meeting, but questions from non-COBWRA members won’t be allowed.

In the heated debate over health care reform, groups on the left and right are alerting their members to public appearances by members of Congress during the August recess. Some of the events are town hall gatherings focused on health care. Others, including Klein’s COBWRA appearance, turn out to be something else.

(more…)

Supporters, opponents eye Aug. 20 health care forum with Wexler; other congressmen uncertain

Monday, August 10th, 2009 by George Bennett

Wexler

Wexler

Supporters and opponents of a Democratic health care overhaul bill and at least one member of Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation will converge next week for a public forum sponsored by a labor-backed retiree group.

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, plans to attend the Aug. 20 event at 1 p.m. at the South County Civic Center west of Delray Beach. The event is sponsored by the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and supports the Democratic bill.

Other local members of Congress were invited but it wasn’t immediately clear today whether any others would attend.

Opponents of the legislation plan to show up as well.

“We’ll be there with signs but, more importantly, we’ll be there with questions,” said Everett Wilkinson, the state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots group.

(more…)

“Tea Party” backers hope to answer Aaronson challenge

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 by George Bennett


“Don’t let Commissioner Aaronson get away with being dismissive,” organizers of the South Florida Tea Party group are urging members after Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson last month wondered why Tea Party supporters didn’t show up for a weekday commission meeting. The group is urging members to turn out for the June 16 commission meeting to send a message to Aaronson.

Aaronson

Aaronson

A huge crowd of Tea Party demonstrators descended on the county government headquarters on April 15 to protest massive federal spending and deficits. But Aaronson was unimpressed on May 19 when a lone member of the group spoke at a commission meeting on an issue.

“You said that many people have the same feeling as you do and they participated in the tea party, but they couldn’t get here today,” Aaronson told Suzanne Squire in a video clip the Tea Party group is circulating. “Well, they seem to have found a way to get to the tea party. Why couldn’t they get here today?”

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