More sketchy campaign ads and other news

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More misleading ads?

On Thursday, I wrote about a dishonest ad being run by the Republican Party of Florida on behalf of incumbent Bill Hager in the Florida House 89 race. Just in time for Election Day, here’s a look behind another controversial ad in a local legislative race.

It’s the rematch between Democrat Maria Sachs and Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff in Florida Senate 34, a district that includes southeastern Palm Beach County and northeastern Broward County. Sachs won in 2012, but because of redistricting half of the 20 Senate seats were for just two years. The winner this time gets a four-year term.

The race is close, and could determine whether Republicans would have a veto-proof majority in the Senate if Charlie Crist became governor. The candidates have issued the usual accusations about who cut education spending and the usual claims about who would be the better advocate for the middle class, but a recent mailer went after Sachs on a very emotional issue.

This year, the Senate passed legislation that allows the use of “non-euphoric”—no high—marijuana to treat certain medical conditions, notably epileptic seizures, especially in children. One of the children cited by supporters to make their case was 11-year-old RayAnn Moseley, whom supporters credit for changing minds on the issue. The mailer says Sachs “failed to vote to help RayAnn and thousands of Florida children like her. . .Apparently, RayAnn’s story wasn’t enough for Maria Sachs.”

A look at the record for Senate Bill 1030, the legislation in question, shows that Sachs did vote for the bill on final passage. She did so, though, after the roll call. That can happen on the last day of the session—when this vote took place—as senators move around the chamber and bills are taken up at a furious pace. The record also shows that Sachs voted for the bill on third reading—the second-to-last step—on April 28.

I asked the Bogdanoff campaign for a response. I got one from the candidate:

“She voted after roll call. That doesn’t count in the passage or failure of a bill, which is why it says (on the printed record of the vote) ‘Not Voting – 1.’ What (Sachs) did was indicate her preference.

“With respect to the bill on third reading she did vote for, it came back to the Senate in returning messages and was different than the bill she voted for. The key vote that mattered, the final amended version of the bill, was the one she missed because she was not on the floor.

“We stand by our statement that when the bill came up for a vote Sen. Sachs was not there.”

The mailer never mentions Bogdanoff. It can’t, because it doesn’t come from the Bogdanoff campaign or the Republican Party of Florida. It only can bash Sachs. It comes from something called Floridians For Integrity in Government, a political action committee that doesn’t have to reveal who is behind it and supposedly can’t coordinate its work with the Bogdanoff campaign.

Except that Floridians For Integrity in Government gets its money from another committee called the Florida Leadership Committee. It has collected about $2.6 million in donations, mostly from special interests that want something from the Legislature. Sen. Jack Latvala controls the Florida Leadership Committee. Latvala is the Clearwater Republican who wants to be Senate president in 2017-18. Bogdanoff would be a vote for Latvala against Sen. Joe Negron. The mailer is one example of the help Latvala is giving Bogdanoff.

Yet Latvala was one of seven Republicans to vote against the medical marijuana bill that the Latvala-sponsored mailer falsely criticizes Sachs for opposing. Here is Bogdanoff’s response to the idea that the ad is hypocritical:

“Sen. Latvala and I have been friends for nearly 20 years. We don’t agree on a lot of issues, but as friends we respect each other’s differences. Finding loyalty in this process is a rare find, and maintaining friendships is a blessing. As one of my old political friends used to say, If you agree with someone 100 percent of the time, don’t vote for them. Marry them.”

Ah, politics.

High times

One of the big votes today will determine whether Florida legalizes the marijuana that gives you a high for treatment on a wide scale. Even ifAmendment 2 gets the required 60 percent, however, don’t expect to see marijuana dispensaries show up anytime soon.

Last week, Boca Raton joined Boynton Beach in approving one-year moratoriums on marijuana shops. As in the other cities, the vote was not controversial. Only one speaker commented, and he favored the moratorium. The only question was whether the moratorium would apply to businesses that offer consulting to potential marijuana entrepreneurs. It wouldn’t.

As I noted previously, the moratorium makes sense. Amendment 2 is broadly written, and some cities could get many applications for licenses. Delray Beach will hold its first vote tonight on a moratorium, and it will pass. For all the promises that medical marijuana will bring new money to government and relief to those who are suffering, beware of big changes that promise nothing but benefits.

New development regulations

In Delray Beach, a city commission meeting fell on Election Day. So the commission correctly postponed a major item that had been scheduled for discussion tonight.

That would be the first public hearing on proposed new regulations for development in the Central Business District. Crafting the proposal, which is contained in three ordinances, has taken nearly a year, and given what’s at stake there’s no reason to rush. The hearing has been moved to Nov. 18.

Another big issue that originally had been on tonight’s agenda is Atlantic Crossing. The commission is considering a development agreement and an indemnification agreement related to the project. At the Oct. 21 meeting, however, commissioners raised a number of issues, and the city’s legal staff needs time to rework the proposals. City Attorney Noel Pfeffer told me Monday that he doesn’t expect Atlantic Crossing to come back before the commission until at least January.

Delray pension news

I now have seen Delray Beach’s pension and wage offers to the police union. For now, you should know that the major change is that Delray wants to withdraw from the program that gives the city money for its police pension from assessments on insurance policies.

Decades ago, the Legislature created this program and another for fire departments to encourage full-service cities to create their own public safety pensions, rather than have police officers and firefighters adding to the state retirement system.

With the money, however, come rules set by the Legislature to operate the pension funds. Those rules cover who will administer the funds. Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein believes that the city’s police-fire pension is so shaky—the Leroy Collins Institute at Florida State University rated the fund ‘F’ for 2011 and 2012—in large part because the city has too little influence over the fund’s investments. Leaving the state program would enable Delray Beach to recast the pension board.

Boca Raton is at an impasse with its unions over police and fire wage/pension issues. Delray Beach is not there yet, but I’m told that the gap on pensions is wide and that the union has made a counteroffer. I will have much more about this next week.

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You can email Randy Schultz at randy@bocamag.com

For more City Watch blogs, click here.About the Author

Randy Schultz was born in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1974. He has lived in South Florida since then, and in Boca Raton since 1985. Schultz spent nearly 40 years in daily journalism at the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post, most recently as editorial page editor at the Post. His wife, Shelley, is director of The Learning Network at Pine Crest School. His son, an attorney, and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren also live in Boca Raton. His daughter is a veterinarian who lives in Baltimore.

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Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.