A repeat of one year ago, the Republican Club of NPB brought together three speakers to share their wisdom on the current political environment.
Unfortunately, County Commissioner Hal Valeche was unable to reprise his previous appearance, but Frenchman’s HOA board member and Palm Beach Gardens Council candidate Michael Paolercio was able to fill the slot.
Just as Donald Trump has called for “draining the swamp” in Washington, the Gardens term limits referendum that passed last year has had the effect of churning up the local waters. With three long term incumbents reaching the end of their allowed tenure, the three open seats have drawn a rich assortment of 9 candidates. In a little over a month, a new council will be seated where the longest serving member has been there for one year.
Michael contrasted himself with his opponent, and cited his entrepreneurial experience in building a highly successful company, and his local work in overseeing the building projects of Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens, as examples of the kind of skills that the city needs. A grasp of the big picture, he said, is as important as the details.
Next up was County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett who was recently elected as Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, a position that will keep him traveling around the state.
Michael spoke of how amazing it is to be the County Party of the President, with the Winter White House right here in our neighborhood. The Lincoln Day Dinner is sold out already, in spite of the fact that no speakers have been announced. Just holding it at Mar-a-Lago evidently is enough. The county really delivered for the President, giving him over 52% in the primary and 25,000 votes more than Mitt Romney got in the 2012 general. We had an amazing 91% of absentee ballots returned.
Looking forward, the “Drive for Five” focus of 2018 – to retain the governorship and cabinet and win Bill Nelson’s seat for the GOP, is going to take a lot of work and we need to be getting ready. The county gave Rick Scott only 38% of the vote in 2014, and though a Republican will probably win the state, we need to work as hard as if we are 10 points down.
Finally, former Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein gave us his views of “What is Going On”. We have been in a war with Progressives since Woodrow Wilson took the White House in 1912, instituted an income tax and launched the federal reserve. Unfortunately, we have not always realized (that we are at war), and surprisingly, the election of Donald Trump means we are winning.
With their long-range plan of turning us into Mexico – a socialist, one-party country, we came very close to losing it all. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, it would have guaranteed 10 million new immigrant and progressive voters. So it was really “28-3 in the third quarter” and the Democrats thought they had won – after 103 years of conflict. This unexpected loss is why they can’t return to being “normal people”.
Abe Lincoln was the first President to actually “take back ground” from the Progressive agenda. Donald Trump is the second. Even Ronald Reagan failed to do this as he accepted (and gave amnesty to) 3 million illegals, “as long as we don’t take any more”. Trump, by moving to actually reduce the number of illegals and rejecting amnesty, doing energy reform, health care reform, school choice, etc. will actually set the Progressive agenda back.
Politically, Republicans have principles and an ideology that binds us together while Democrats are a coalition of sometimes competing interests. Trump has introduced large cracks in that coalition – with unions and black voters, and is about to tackle the Democrats ace in the hole – voter fraud.
In summary, Trump has been a “GOAT” – the “Greatest of All Time” President Elect and sure to have more accomplishments in a short time than many Presidents get in a term.
Michael Barnett and Sid Dinerstein
Angela West, Michael Paolercio, Marilyn Parmet
Congressman-elect Brian Mast joined us for a Victory celebration at Frenchman’s Reserve on December 4. As the new Republican representing the 18th district, he will join a unified Republican Caucus in the 115th Congress ready, willing and able to implement the Trump agenda starting on day 1. After 4 years of representation by the very liberal Patrick Murphy (rated 4 out of 100 by the American Conservative Union), we look forward to having a Congressman who shares our values.
Brian recounted his experience in the weeks following the election, particularly the “Freshman Orientation” in the capital where he participated in closed door caucus sessions that attempted to discern just what the voters mean by “Drain the Swamp”. He was encouraged by the apparently very real concern by Representatives old and new that the voters clearly reject business as usual in the Congress, and they seem to really want to deliver on the Trump message of ending corruption and moving on the right priorities, not just those that will fill the pockets of the participants. While he can’t guarantee that his colleagues will follow through on this theme, he certainly plans to do so.
Brian plans to reside in his capital office while in Washington (as do 80 other House Members), and travel back to the district frequently on weekends. His wife plans to home-school their children starting after the end of this school year, so they will be more easily able to travel with him as needed.
We look forward to seeing Brian frequently in the future and wish him well on what could be a long and productive political career.
Next month, join us as the club will host Sid Dinerstein for a look at the past election and what it portends.
Dan Bongino, has been a Secret Service agent in both the Bush and Obama White Houses, a US Senate and later a House candidate in Maryland, a radio and podcast host and the author of “Life Inside the Bubble” and “The Fight”, about the alternate reality in which our political leaders make monumental policy decisions.
On Sunday, he gave us his view of the problems we currently face as a country.
One is that “We are no longer moored to the Constitution”. As examples he cites the recent move by a group of Democrat State Attorney Generals to prosecute “climate deniers” – or those who hold differing views from them and their cronies, in direct conflict with the First Amendment. The Obama Executive Amnesty is another example, which cites “prosecutorial discretion” to exempt large classes of people from the laws enacted by Congress.
Another problem is that the left has redefined the message of the economy. No longer do we discuss the reasons for our historical economic power, but instead talk of “how much of our earnings are we allowed to keep”, “evil rich people”, and the “distribution of income”. Where is that “distribution center” anyway?
On health care, Dan pointed to Bernie Sanders call for “Medicare for All”. In reality, the Medicare progam as it is has funding challenges and expanding it is just unaffordable.
Lastly, Dan spoke about Education. We are an “ideas economy”, but our schools are falling way behind the rest of the developed world and today’s students will lack the tools they need to compete. The most reasonable way out is to provide school choice.
Even with all these problems, Dan is optimistic. We are coming to the end of the reign of “the worst President in History”, and the USA is still a special place. Where else do you find that the biggest problem of our poor is “obesity”.
Present at the meeting were candidates Rick Sessa who is running for Sheriff against incumbent Rick Bradshaw, and Roth Farms owner Rick Roth, a candidate for CD18.
Many of the so-called “establishment” are seriously plotting ways to thwart the results of the primaries at the Republican convention. They apparently feel that “their” party has been taken over by the barbarians from flyover country. They think that a convention draft of someone who has entered no primaries, taken part in no debates, spent no time campaigning, would be preferable to either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Even a Hillary Clinton presidency (the likely outcome of such a draft) would be preferable to submitting to the rabble.
My first reaction was that they had seriously lost touch with the rank and file of the Republican party, but that is an oversimplification.
The party is defined by its voters – not those that consider themselves the “leaders”. Who are they leading? People like Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham have much more in common with Hillary Clinton than they do with the “real” Republicans who provide the heart and soul of the GOP. Maintaining the status quo in Washington, with a heavily Progressive bureaucracy controlling more and more of our daily lives and a Congress that sees being the majority as simply a means to a bigger office and more access to lobbyist dollars, is the goal of both parties. The so-called “GOP leadership”, including our new Speaker who has given the Obama juggernaut everything it wants in their spending bills, have betrayed those that gave them the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.
I have been a Republican for my entire voting life and have worked for candidates at all levels since the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. I held my nose and supported McCain, and supported (although with minimal enthusiasm) Romney as he threw away what should have been an easy win by running one of the worst campaigns in modern history. I will no longer support those who have such contempt for the voters as to tell us we are morons.
The McConnells and Boehners and Ryans tell us they can’t govern from the Congress – even though they told us if we elected them in 2010 and 2014 they would change the dynamic. Now they claim they need the Presidency.
In my view, we need an insurgent – a real change agent, to alter the relationship between our government and its citizens. Currently what we have is condescension and scorn, with a dose of fraud and deceit for good measure. We are at an inflection point in our history – the country is circling the drain and everyone out there in flyover country knows it but people of the “GOP leadership” just can’t (or won’t) acknowledge it.
Without drastic change, starting immediately, the country is lost. Donald Trump may not be a movement conservative, but he is a change agent. Stopping illegal immigration, negotiating better trade deals, changing our tax and regulatory structure to bring whole industries back to the US, repudiating the “America Last” policies of Obama and Clinton – that is his agenda. Ted Cruz would proceed with a similar set of goals, but I think that Trump has a better chance of actually becoming President. He has already put a dent into the Clinton’s machine by reminding us all that Bill is an un-indicted sex offender, and that she has committed felonies – whether the Justice department prosecutes them or not. He has already altered the party registration picture, generated unprecedented turnout and voter loyalty, and has a good chance to bring some blue states to the Republican fold.
It is not that Trump will “change the Republican Party” or if it can “survive”. The party has already changed – Trump is just the best candidate suited to lead what it has become. Any attempt to ignore the will of the voters with shenanigans at the convention will not just disrupt this year’s race – it will end the GOP.
The RCNPB February Meeting at Frenchman’s Reserve delivered an assortment of political tidbits along with an amazing Sunday brunch.
After the Pledge and a prayer delivered by Angela West, the first “amigo”, County Commissioner Hal Valeche went through his top 3 list of accomplishments for the year just past:
Baseball will remain in the county, thanks to a deal to place the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals at a new location on 45th street after the Palm Beach Gardens venue was soundly rejected by the neighborhood. Using a $50M grant from the state and county money in the form of the bed tax, the taxpayers will be building a fine stadium for the teams. Hal explained how this will bring in tourist dollars and keep the teams at Roger Dean from bolting to greener pastures.
Uber, the disruptive technology company that is giving the established taxi companies heartburn, is allowed to operate in the county under a deal that Hal helped arrange. The state is now moving to regulate the new businesses (including Uber and Lyft) and will supersede local ordinances, but county action was necessary in the meantime to allow them to operate without the regulatory overhead required of the taxi companies.
Verdenia Baker, who was deputy to former County Administrator Bob Weisman, was hired to replace Bob after a nationwide search involving 80 candidates that ultimately came down to Verdenia or Assistant County Administrator Shannon LaRocque.
Hal also spent some time explaining the upcoming proposal to increase the county sales tax (possibly up to 8% from the current 6%) if the county, the school district, and Fire / Rescue are all successful placing them on the ballot and getting them passed. To compensate for several years of underspending on county infrastructure, each 1/2 cent of the sales tax would generate over $1.1B in its ten year life to pay for building refurbishment, drainage projects and road striping. Many believe the county has yet to make their case that this is necessary. Hal and the other commissioners will be discussing the options on Tuesday 2/9.
The next “amigo” was county GOP Chairman Michael Barnett who spoke of the readiness for upcoming elections. With a new office on the first floor of the building they have been in on Palm Beach Lakes, there is lots of room for candidates to bring in their volunteers to meet and make calls. He also brought us up to date on minority outreach, an example of which was the party’s participation in the MLK day parades in Riviera Beach and Lake Worth, and the kudos from the black community about the good work in the community.
Fundraising in going well with a sold out Lincoln Day event with Donald Trump, and vice Chair Tami Donnelly is hard at work training a grassroots army. With special interest in the municipal elections on March 15, Michael offered help to Republican candidates and reached out to Gardens Council candidate Carl Woods and Jupiter’s Wayne Posner who were present at the meeting.
Third “amigo” was former county Chair Sid Dinerstein who spoke of the “shifting of tectonic plates”.
Describing Donald Trump as an “American Firster” rather than a conservative, Sid explained how Mr. Trump is running for the job as “top cheerleader for America” – something very different from most of the candidates in the race in either party, and why he has a strong appeal among those who blame the political classes for the decline of our country.
With insights not heard often from our party, Sid explained that black voters know that the Democrats have reserved all the low wage jobs for the illegals, and would be open to Republican candidates who used that fact to gain support.
Perhaps Sid’s most interesting observation however was that “conservatives never take back ground”. In other words, most conservatives when elected, work to keep the problems from getting worse, but NEVER try to roll back the damage that the Democrats have done. In this election cycle, perhaps the success of Donald Trump may suggest that this is changing.
Also at the meeting were CD18 candidates Rebecca Negron, Carl Domino and Rick Roth.
Sunday afternoon brunch at Frenchman’s Reserve was an excellent opportunity for the club to introduce Florida Senate Candidate Ron DeSantis. The brunch was something new for the club, and the expansive array of delicious food was a grazer’s delight.
First elected to Congress in 2012, Ron represents Florida district 6, a coastal district stretching from south of Jacksonville to New Symrna Beach. An outspoken member of the House Freedom Caucus, which was instrumental in booting John Boehner from the Speaker’s chair, he gets a well-earned 89% on the Heritage Action Scorecard, highest in the House.
Marilyn Parmet, Casey DeSantis,
Linda Stoch and Ron DeSantis
As a 2016 Senate Candidate, he will face Representative David Jolly (Heritage Action 41%), Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantero, and former CIA and Army Special Forces Veteran Todd Wilcox in the August Primary. The winner of that contest will go on to face either our own Patrick Murphy (Heritage 16%) or Allan Grayson (also 16%).
Describing the country’s mood as “malaise”, and a feeling that neither party has a clue, Ron suggested that if Obama had been President during World War II, we would have lost.
Militant Islam, he said, is not limited to a few terrorist groups like ISIS, but a wider problem – witness the reaction at the Turkish Soccer match when calls for a moment of silence for Paris were met with chants of “Allahu akbar”. And ISIS is not the only Muslim Caliphate – there is a Shia version spreading from Africa to Asia led by Iran. Obama’s weakness has demonstrated to them that we can be attacked with impunity.
Ron then ran down his thoughts on a number of issues of the day, including:
- He sponsored a bill with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton to eliminate aid to any country that accepts Guantanamo prisoners and then lets them return to the battlefield.
- With Ted Cruz he pushed a bill to put a pause on the import of Syrian refuges.
- He would arrange it so any home-grown Jihadi who leaves the country to fight for ISIS could not return.
- He opposes Ethanol subsidies as crony capitalism.
- He supports articles of impeachement for IRS Chief Koskinen.
- He opposes Common Core and voted against the NCLB re-authorization.
- He thinks Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted for her email server and its attempts to avoid Congressional oversight and FOIA request.
- He sees Obamacare failing before our eyes – much quicker than predicted, and thinks we should move to replace it with patient-centered healthcare.
Learn more about Ron DeSantis at his website: www.desantis2016.com
In other Club business, the slate of officers was elected for 2016:
Marilyn Parmet, President
Linda Stoch, Vice President
Bill Nelson, Treasurer
Jane Pike, Secretary
The Sunshine Summit, last weekend’s gathering of the Republican grassroots in Orlando, brought together 14 of the 15 candidates currently competing for presidential primary votes, along with most of the Senate candidates.
Unlike the events of the last two cycles in 2007 and 2011, which featured both televised debates and straw polls, this was mostly a candidate showcase – each was given 20 minutes to make their case. The extreme number of candidates this time, and the fact that Florida does not vote until March 15 – after 26 states will have already assigned their delegates, probably reduced attendance at the event. Still, there were upwards of 1000 in the hall, and the media presence was considerable. CSPAN covered the event live, and lots of recognizable on-air personalities could be seen roaming the halls.
External events played a role in what transpired, as reaction to the Paris attacks on Friday were integrated into the Saturday speeches, or in the case of Chris Christie, dominated their remarks. And the Democrat debate on Saturday night offered a unique opportunity to compare all of our contenders to Hillary Clinton and her two pesky sparring partners.
All the candidates remarks can be seen streaming on CSPAN.
After watching all the debates and attending the Heritage Action Event in South Carolina (with 10 of the candidates), I thought I had a good idea of the dynamics of the race and who was on my short list. That said, I left Orlando with a few new insights.
1. The outsiders have captured the imagination of large portions of the Republican base, even at an event comprised mostly of “insiders”.
As an event sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida, with a large number of blue-badged party officials in attendance, I expected a great deal of support and enthusiasm for the “favorite sons” Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and less for the outsiders Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and (some would say) Ted Cruz. This was clearly not the case.
While Jeb and Marco have strong support, it was the outsiders who were the rock stars.
Ted Cruz laid out the red meat with a flourish and hit all the hot buttons from Obamacare to the border, the Iran deal, a flat tax, and support for Israel, to thunderous applause.
Donald Trump, avoiding any criticism of his rivals this time, took on illegal immigration (need a Dream Act for Americans), winning again, incompetent leaders, and suggested that college students should be taught about the first amendment. The response was widespread and overwhelming.
Ben Carson, after a quiet start discussing his upbringing, lit into an extensive litany of all the things he would do if he wanted to “destroy America” – all of which Obama has put into motion. His was the most complete and devastating attack on the incumbent President of all the candidates and the crowd responded with enthusiasm.
Carly Fiorina, the last speaker of the event, focused on the Paris attacks, the feckless and dangerous foreign policy of Obama/Clinton, and what she would be doing about ISIS. It seemed like Margaret Thatcher channeling Winston Churchill and left no doubt that she would be a serious and effective commander-in-chief. The response was loud and enthusiastic.
2. Almost all of the Republican contenders are displaying the vision, determination, skill and experience that could believably repair the damage that 7 years of Obama have wrought. Clinton is clearly not in the same league with these people, in spite of her over 25 years on the national stage, and tenure as Senator and Secretary of State.
One thing that has become obvious to many people is that there are many kinds of relevant experience besides being an elected official. The office of President is a unique job, unlike any other, and it takes a generalist to oversee a diverse set of tasks, a communicator to inspire the country and lead it in a positive direction, and a visionary to see our potential as a people and set the wheels in motion to carry us forward. Governors, Senators, Business Leaders – all have skills that are relevant to the job, and all of the candidates now in the race have been successful in their lives and bring serious qualifications and abilities to the table.
Some would say that the terrible state that the country is in – anemic growth, unsustainable debt, corruption at all levels, an abdication of world leadership – is a result of professional politicians and insiders (lobbyists, big donors, etc) having screwed everything up. Hillary Clinton, who is unarguably the stereotype of all those things, would represent more of the same, as could be seen on the debate stage in Des Moines. It was apparent in Orlando that our candidates (to a greater or lesser extent), reject the status quo and will lead the country in a different direction.
3. The weeding out process is going to be long and arduous, as very few of these contenders can be counted out, despite their current standing in the polls.
Until the first delegates are selected in the Iowa caucuses on February 1, the polls will be unreliable, as most likely voters appear to be making tentative selections. Many people, until they have to commit, will lean to the candidate that meets their ideological goals, appears to speak “for them”, says the “right things”, or wins debating points. When the rubber meets the road though, issues of electability, consistency, honesty, ethics, contrast with the Democrat candidate, and other issues will rise in importance. As this year is unusual in the number of candidates and the widespread dissatisfaction with elected officials, predictions are hard.
Some weeding out has already begun, as few would expect Lindsey Graham or Jim Gilmore to become the nominee, and two candidates have already left the race. But all the rest have ardent supporters and judging by the enthusiastic response at the summit to most of the candidates, there are many “acceptable alternatives”. It is truly a deep bench.
RNC member and county committeeman Peter Feaman, speaking at the RCNPB March meeting, provided a sobering assessment of the challenges we face in the world.
“The winds of war are blowing” he said, – in the middle east, in Africa, Eastern Europe, Pakistan, South America, and Asia – beginning anew the struggle for freedom for people from those who would deny them. History repeats – the Crusaders were the first freedom fighters, seeking to liberate the holy lands from Muslim domination.
America is a special nation to face this challenge, he said, – our Declaration of Independence was the first assertion that our basic rights come from God – not from a monarch. He defined for us the “American Trinity”, three principles that define us: 1. “In God we Trust” – stated on our money and the touchstone for our government, 2. “e pluribus unum” – the assertion that regardless of ethnic or racial origin, we are all Americans, and 3. Liberty, not equality – we all start out with equal rights and opportunities and have the liberty to pursue them.
Sadly, all of these principles are now under attack from our own government.
In Peter’s view, the contemporary leader who is the best spokesman for liberty, the Churchill of our day if you will, is Bibi Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister has no problem is laying out that Iran and ISIS both plan world domination – they only differ on who should rule. As Israel is our only natural ally in the middle east, a country that shares our values, we should have a litmus test for our presidential candidates, asking what they will do for Israel.
We are fortunate to have someone with this world view representing us on the RNC.
At its first meeting of 2015, Commissioner Hal Valeche swore in this year’s officers and gave us an update on some topics of interest at the county level.
Elected to the commission in 2012, a Republican success in an otherwise dismal election cycle, Hal has enjoyed his time on the commission, the “best job” he’s had short of his days as a fighter pilot. Representing north county district one as one of only 2 Republicans on the seven member commission (Steve Abrams of district 4 in south county is the other), Hal does not always prevail. He was the only commissioner to oppose the 1 cent hike in the bed tax for example, which recently passed.
Addressing the county budget, he acknowledged that the half a billion Sheriff’s portion is not totally under the control of the commission, and is crowding out other necessary spending such as on roads and bridges. The Sheriff is an elected constitutional officer, and although the overall spending level must be set by the commission, they have no purvey over the line item detail, and the Sheriff’s popularity in his service area limits the commission’s ability to challenge him. (Only Commissioner Paulette Burdick challenged the Sheriff’s budget in the last cycle).
An upcoming duty that Hal is not looking forward to is the selection of the next County Administrator. With high praise for the current administrator Bob Weisman, who he said can never be ‘replaced’, he discussed the search committee that has been formed to choose among a couple of in-house choices and others drawn from nation-wide recruiting, and how difficult it will be to decide on the candidates in full public view. (Sunshine laws prohibit private interviews or non-public discussion).
Touching briefly on the upcoming decision concerning development in the Agricultural Reserve (West of the turnpike from Lantana south to Clint Moore), he explained the tradeoff between the rules established when the reserve was formed with a taxpayer approved bond issue and the wants and needs of current property owners who would like to sell their farms to developers. Another tough decision for the commissioners.
And finally he touched on the baseball stadium, which he has been involved with since it was first proposed in Palm Beach Gardens. The county has approved $135M from bed tax revenue to pay for the construction and maintenance of a facility – currently proposed within West Palm Beach south of 45th street. A current sticky point has been that the county must acquire the land from the city of West Palm Beach, which takes it out of the city’s taxing jurisdiction. The city proposes a land swap for a small county parcel downtown, near the TriRail station. Although this swap has been opposed by county staff, Hal indicated that it is very close to a resolution.
Taking a few questions from the audience, Hal explained further the relationship between the commission and the Sheriff (it’s complicated), the county’s role in the All Aboard Florida project (very little), and how and why the original $90M baseball proposal grew to $135M.
Following Hal’s remarks, he swore in the new officers (shown below). They are Ron Nelson, Jane Pike, Linda Stoch and President Marilyn Parmet.
Every two years, during the summer of an election year, the county GOP hosts a “Jamboree” at the South County Civic Center. With a barbecue lunch under the pavillion roof, surrounded by covered booths hosted by candidates and political clubs, it is gathering place for the GOP faithful and those who seek to represent them at all levels of government.