Almost exactly two years after the Orange County Board of County commissioners gathered their litigious druthers and delivered the “kill shot” to the citizen-led earned sick time initiative, on Aug. 19 – as promised by a mysterious chain of events that involved a “memo” from Commissioner Scott Boyd and a lot of bluster-fucking from Commissioner Fred Brummer – the board readdressed the issue of constitutional officers and whether they should remain constitutional officers or be sucked into the county-run mire of nonpartisan “charter officers.” Why? Because all the Republicans on your “nonpartisan” board like to hold grudges and then act on them, basically.
But before we could even get to the clumsily planned, tucked-at-the-end attempt to let voters decide whether there should be constitutional/charter officers and whether they should be term-limited, we had to endure more than four hours of NIMBY discussion about a mosque in a rural neighborhood full of churches. Will the call to prayer be amplified throughout the community? Heavens, no, bigots. Also, there will be no mosque.
By the time the real issues of county governance came up, the crowd and the board had grown a little anxious and/or exhausted – you can read our full liveblog account at blogs.orlandoweekly.com/bloggytown – so the tone turned sour quickly. The constitutional officers in question – sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, clerk of courts and comptroller – were put on the hot seat, with most speaking out in objection to the move either personally or through a representative. Comptroller Martha Haynie was particularly pointed in her exchanges with the board and the mayor, basically saying that the public provides term limits when and if they vote you out. Also, this is an issue for the volunteer Charter Review Commission, and not really an appropriate landing point for your vendetta against certain members of the county administration. Even Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell got into a noticeable tiff with the mayor toward the end when she accused the board of overstepping its authority on something citizens weren’t even asking for. By 10:15 p.m., the board settled on a confusing bit of ballot language that would combine the nonpartisan election of the constitutional (not charter!) officers in question with four four-year terms (16 years) as their maximum occupancy.
But then something hilarious happened. Commissioner Brummer chimed in with a motion to eliminate the office of tax collector completely, thereby verifying that his own power grab was indeed an act of revenge against Democratic county tax collector Scott Randolph and/or the monsters screaming in his head.
“While I’m happy that Commissioner Brummer’s continued political vendetta was unsuccessful, I still fundamentally believe that voters should get to know who they are voting for, whether it’s tax collector, mayor or any other office,” Randolph says in a text message response to questions about the situation. “Why they are determined to ensure that only special interests and political parties get to tell voters whether someone is a Republican or Democrat is beyond me. The commission is proposing to move more elections away from the time when voter turnout is highest. Democracy works best when elections are decided by the highest number of voters.”