Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Florida 2020 Ballot Referendums – What Do They Do

Tampa Bay, Fl 

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD


There are six statewide referendum amendments on this years' Florida ballot. 

Below is each referendum by Title and a brief summary.

My comments are in italics.

Amendment 1
States in the state Constitution that only U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or older can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections.

This amendment would prohibit non US citizens from voting in federal, state, local, or school elections. Residents, holding a work visa, education visa, or work permit or any other form of documentation allowing them to be in the United States would be prohibited from voting in Florida.

A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for the approval of Amendment 1.

Amendment 2
Increases the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026.

The Second Amendment increases the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026. This amendment is being challenged by those who claim it would cause employers to reduce the amount of hiring going forward toward the 2026 deadline. There is no empirical data that would show there is any validity to this argument.

Basically, being fought by hospitality and low-income employers, their objective is to hold down labor costs going forward.

A 60 percent supermajority is required for the approval of Amendment 2.

Amendment 3
Establishes a top-two open primary system for state office primary elections.

Supports establishing a top-two open primary system for primary elections for state legislators, the governor, and cabinet (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture) in Florida.

Amendment 3, establishes a top-two open primary system for state offices in the primary elections. What this means is in primary elections for the governor, the legislators and the Florida cabinet consisting of the attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture, every registered voter could vote for any candidate. Currently, these primaries are closed by political party meaning that Democrats can vote for the Democrats, Republicans can vote for Republicans; independents can vote for the independent candidates if there are any.

Under this amendment in the primaries, the elections would be wide-open  anyone registered of any party could vote for any candidate of any party, and the top two vote getters would go onto the general election.

As more and more people prefer to register as independent voters not revealing or taking a political party, this Amendment would open up Florida’s primaries to a more reasonable rational selection of candidates for top state offices. 

A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for the approval of Amendment 3.

Amendment 4
Requires voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election.

Amendment 4 would simply require that constitutional amendments put on the ballot by citizens or legislators following the proper process, would require two votes before they became an amendment to the Florida Constitution.

In a world where things move as fast as they do today this amendment could put multiple years delay in important changes to the Florida constitution to deal with immediate concerns.  

This amendment was driven significantly by the push to legalize marijuana, and the current effort related to Amendment 2 raising the Florida minimum wage. A number of people, including some very powerful politicians feel the process to generate amendments and get them placed on the ballot is now too easy to accomplish and are attempting to slow down the process with this amendment.

Amendment 4 is bad politics and bad government it really deserves your no vote.

A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for the approval of Amendment 4.

Amendment 5
Increases the period during which a person may transfer "Save Our Homes" benefits to a new homestead property from two years to three years.

Amendment 5 is a clean up amendment that helps prevent people from losing their save our homes benefits, which are essentially property tax credits if the time from the sale of an existing home to a new home takes longer than two years.

A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for the approval of Amendment 5.

Amendment 6
Allows a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.

Amendment 6 provides for the transfer of homestead property tax discount credits to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran. Currently, those benefits are terminated following a veterans’ death.

A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for the approval of Amendment 6.

60 percent supermajority vote: A supermajority requirement is a requirement in some votes and elections where more than a simple majority of those voting must vote in favor of a proposal in order for it to be considered to have been approved.

As you can see, every vote on the referendums is extremely important.

Information above taken from Ballotpedia

On your local ballot, there may be additional referendums depending on the County and City you live in. If you have a question about a local referendum, check with the local newspaper, or major television station web site. You can find good information on GOOGLE, just put the referendum Title and County/City in the search box.

All of these referendums are important.  Carefully note that the referendums appear on the back of the first page of your ballot and on the front and back of the second page of your


Be sure to vote for all the offices on the Ballot as well as all the referendums.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Whose Driving the Presidential Train????

 Tampa Bay, Fl  
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD


Mail in ballots in Florida will soon be showing up in your mailbox. Keep your eye out for them follow the instructions, vote, get it in the Mail and set back and enjoy the show.

The issue in this post is what happens after the election after the lawsuits after the ballot counting after the Supreme Court decides who's going to be the next president?

The question is: who will be driving the presidential train?

This presidential election will have vast ramifications on the direction our country will go.

There are a number of scenarios that can play out here.

The Democrats can sweep the House, the Senate and the Presidency.

Democrats can win the Presidency lose the Senate and retain the House.

The Republicans can win the Presidency and retain the Senate.

The Republicans can win the Presidency and lose the Senate and the House.

Each scenario presents a unique opportunity.

Let’s look at two of the more interesting scenarios.

The Democrats sweep the House, the Senate and the Presidency.

First, there is little doubt that should Joe Biden win the presidency, he will be just slightly more than a figurehead president. The liberal left wing of the Democratic Party is so well positioned that Biden will be left with little choice but to follow a liberal left policy approach. Kamala Harris will be given much broader authority as the vice president, and the presidential inner circle will be heavily populated with far-left liberal people.

In this scenario, the United States begins a slow but steady drift into Socialism. Obamacare is expanded into Medicare for all; social welfare programs are expanded, taxes on the middle upper-middle class and wealthy are increased significantly as investment falters and the equity markets gradually decline.

The Republicans win the Presidency and lose the Senate and the House.

In this scenario, Trump must immediately go on defense. With the Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, Trump's impeachment is almost a given. The interesting question here is will Trump stand and fight or will he cut a deal with the Democrats that provides for either a full pardon or absolute immunity from further prosecution. Trump is not nearly as interested in his presidential legacy as he is in his future freedom. Look for a deal.

If Mike Pence assumes the presidency, we should be in for two years of incessant wrangling between Congress and the White House, followed by midterm elections where the Democrats lose one or both houses of Congress. Things will get back to normal or something close to it.

The socialist agenda will be delt a serious blow. 

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Florida School Districts Facing Major Hurdles

 Hillsborough County School Superintendent Ready to Trim Staff

Tampa Bay, Fl 

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

There is no doubt that Florida's school districts are facing major challenges. A lot of it is being laid at the feet of the coronavirus; however, the problems with Florida's school districts have been growing literally for decades.

One of the major issues with school districts in Florida and elsewhere in the United States, is the fact that they tend to grow their administrative staff as fast or faster in some cases than the actual teaching staff.

With an overlaying layer of administrators’ assistant administrators and other non-teaching positions, school district budgets have climbed exponentially over the last few years.

Taking the case of Hillsborough County, here is a quote from Superintendent of Schools Addison Davis: "We've got to have the conversation about where we are potentially overstaffed and whether that's at the district-level or the school-based level and figure out a compromise of where we come back in line in order to be efficient."

For some additional insight, take a look at this article from the Tampa Bay Times by MARLENE SOKOL Education reporter: Hillsborough public schools brace for workforce cuts.

What I find interesting about the Hillsborough case, and in almost all other cases of school boards in financial difficulty is they start looking in the lowest corners of the organization to make reductions and staffing cuts.

In the Hillsborough County case, I think Superintendent Davis could have gained a lot of traction if one of his first moves were  to take a personal 20% salary cut and a comparable cut of all of his senior administrators and hold off on bringing in some of his “former” employees from his previous school district.

In Hillsborough County, as in most school districts, there's a lot more bloat at the top than there is at the bottom.

While these conversations almost always begin with hints, threats and maybe even some actual budget cuts and layoffs, the real effort, here is often to begin driving the political narrative and preparing the school board for a big request for a large budget increase. Take a look at my post: Florida’s Most Dysfunctional Government Body School Boards.

When you start seeing things like we're going to cut special services, reduce arts and sports, what you're really seeing is an attempt to influence public input and put pressure on the elected school board to somehow figure out a way to either raise school board property taxes or generate other sources of revenue.

Addison has made a big issue out of the Hillsborough district's tendency to acquire grants, hire staff to fulfill the grants and when the grants have expired not eliminating the staff since there is no longer funding to support them while making them part of the budget.

That's not a teaching problem, that's a management problem. Any staffer there that can be traced back to a funded grant that is no longer in place should just simply be terminated. I don't care what they're doing right now.

Then there are all those athletic coaches their assistants, their assistance assistants, the football guy who wipes the footballs, the equipment guy, and so on and so on for every sport that a high school or a school system engages in. You know we just got to win at all costs. Some cutting here would be a great start.

Now there are some programs like special needs, that you will see brought to the chopping block if it begins to look like the school board is not going to go along with expanding revenue.

That's the oldest ploy in the book because it stirs up the most emotion among the parents, especially parents of special-needs children. School board members, particularly Hillsborough County school board members, should be on the look for that one and nip it in the bud just as fast as they can. Those programs need to be off the table no exceptions.

So, if you have a child in a school system that is starting the “we need more money arguments" be alert. The dance by most school superintendents and their high-level staff is well choreographed. Well-planned and designed to have as little impact on them as it possibly can.

Before you jump on the phone and start screaming at your school board member, think about this, there's a lot of fluff and a lot of bloat and almost every school system in Florida. And while Hillsborough County says they are looking for it; the school board needs to be sure they are looking in all the right places.

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tampa Bay Bucs – Two Games on the Field


Tampa Bay, Fl 

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

 There could be trouble brewing at One Buc place. 

It's starting to look like, although it's still early in the season, there may be a clash of the Titans foaming up between the new Tampa Bay All Star quarterback Tom Brady and the seasoned old coach Bruce Arians.

It's really a battle of old-school football and new-school football. Bruce Arians is the old-school football coach. He's the guy who still believes football is all about hurting someone. To Arians, players are cogs in the wheel, should do their job, keep their mouth shut, and follow his orders.

Tom Brady, on the other hand, is new-school football. One who believes players are really people and people matter. Brady sees football as the game of chess, while Arians sees football as a game of checkers.
For a look at how all of this is playing out in the football world check out this piece from
CBS SPORTS.COM By  John Breech Sept 17, 2020: Tom Brady gets called out by Bruce Arians: Here's why Brett Favre thinks that could lead to problems in Tampa.
From the CBS SPORTS Post: “Now, maybe they had a mutual truce going into the game, going into the season, 'Hey, I'm going to be hard on you. I want the guys to know we're going to treat you the same even though technically I'm not, so are you OK with it?' If they have that truce, great. If not, I think you are barking up the wrong tree." If the two don't have an understanding, Favre said Arians' public criticisms could quickly lead to problems in Tampa Bay. 
For Brady’s response check out this from CBS SPORTS By Tyler Sullivan Sep 17, 2020
Tom Brady responds to Bruce Arians' criticism of him in Buccaneers opening loss to Saints
Arians said, "Tom and I are fine. I don't really care what other people think. So it's just what he and I think," Arians said. "We left the stadium fine. We showed up today fine. There ain't nothin' to talk about."
Could be. 

But if the Bucs should lose again this week, and God forbid the following week; the Glazers may have some serious soul-searching to do.
Having played for Bill Belichick, Brady's not particularly thin skinned but the issue, here isn't so much how Brady feels as it is about how the fan base may begin to react if open warfare erupts between Arians and Tom Brady.
For now, it may be time for Bruce Arians to get out of his famous golf cart, mingle with his players, help develop a little camaraderie, and promote a winning spirit. Not exactly Arians’ cup of tea, but better to drink this one than the really bitter one that might follow.
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Friday, September 18, 2020

Down Ballot Republicans - Will They Stick with Trump or Will the Party Fracture?

 Tampa Bay, Fl                                    

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

Downballot races have never been more important than they are in this presidential election. Here's a definition of down ballot and down ticket from Merriam-Webster:

Downballot and downticket are two new words that describe running or voting for offices listed below the most important—typically national—race on a ballot. For instance, in a presidential election, Senate and House seats and contests for state and local offices are downballot (or downticket) because their outcomes are often influenced by the turnout for the presidential race at the top of the ballot. Merriam-Webster

If you are following the campaign rhetoric so far in this presidential race, you will notice that The Republican candidates running for the US house, the US Senate, State and Local Offices have been strangely quiet in their comments regarding the presidential race.

While state and local offices are not all that important to the President, the status of the House and Senate are key to moving substantial legislative agendas forward. For example, if Biden and the Democrats win the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, the ability to move forward a left-leaning socialist agenda would be almost assured.

Trump, on the other hand, will most likely face an immediate impeachment proceeding should he win the Presidency and lose both the House and the Senate.

It's starting to look like they're going to be three national races in this Presidential election. The Democrats trying to get Biden and their down ticket US House and Senate candidates elected,  the Trumpicans trying to get President Trump reelected,  and the Republican Party trying desperately to get their US House and Senate, Governors and state legislative candidates elected.

All of this may be very confusing to the voter. As the media campaigns heat up it may not be clear which National Party is supporting what. The one thing for certain is this no voter regardless of party, Democrat or Republican, should just step up and vote a straight party ticket. If you are a Democrat that may be tempting. However, you need to think about the impact of a national government completely controlled by a left-leaning political party.

On the Republican side, as a voter you need to carefully consider the ballot, vote every race, and even if you're so dissatisfied with Trump you're not going to vote for him for president; you need to be sure to vote down ballot for the Republican candidates for no reason other than keeping the balance of power in place.

The framers of the Constitution deliberately set up our government with conflicting houses of government and conflicting political parties to ensure a balance of power, negotiation of issues, and compromise in solutions.

A lot of people these days are frustrated with our form of democracy. But now is no time to start down the path of replacing capitalism with socialism and democracy with anarchy.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

An Accurate Census? Don’t Count on It!


Tampa, Fl
Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer

September 14, 2020 - 6:31 pm

By Jim Bleyer

Every ten years the public is reminded, through news reports, commentary, and public service announcements just how important census-inspired statistics are to our economic well being and representative government.

Political districts at the federal, state, and local levels are drawn based on population data. Without an accurate count, it is impossible to ensure that citizens’ votes will have the same weight.

The results of the census are also used for federal funding: more money goes to places where more people live. And knowing who lives where and how the population is changing is also critical for long-term planning as states, counties, and municipalities try to make informed decisions about where to invest in services like schools, roads, transportation systems, and other infrastructure needs.

What is occurring with the 2020 Census is more than disturbing.

I worked for the U. S. Census in 2010.  I attempted to work for them in 2020. The country went from the Information Age to the New Stone Age in only a decade.

Ten years ago, I was an enumerator going door to door in various neighborhoods, meeting residents, and collecting census information.  Communication between myself and my supervisor could not have been better.  Reports were delivered and approved in a timely fashion.

The interviewees, for the most part, were amenable and forthright.  I found myself vaulting a chain link fence only once from a snarling  Rottweiler turned loose by an angry, unreceptive owner.

In 2020, I signed on to be a Post Enumerator Supervisor overseeing census workers making followup household interviews.  The census operation compared to 2010 could not be more stark: silk versus chaos.

The three-hour in-person orientation at the outset represented the high point of my experience and it wasn’t all that perfect.  The group received government-issued, pre-programmed computers, accessories, and a large plastic bag chock full of notepaper, ID signs for autos, a pen, Sharpies, and other miscellaneous materials.

All attendees took an oath not to reveal any information about individual respondents under penalty of prison time and a $250,000 fine. I don’t know about the rest of the trainees but I never came close to seeing any of that information.

Due to COVID, we were confined for the remainder of training to learning from programs on the government-issued computer at home.  Trainees were limited to 22 additional hours of such computer time, likely ample if the computer programs worked properly.  The amount of time spent on the computer due to crashed programs and not being credited for passing the various courses ran easily 5-6 hours.  A convoluted login process, unnecessary by any rational view, added to the consternation.

Posted on the internet in February:

The (non) issuance of ID badges, critical in conveying credibility to interviewees, was an adventure that deserves its own article. Suffice to say, many trainees not only complained about not receiving them (I was privy to group emails), arrangements to obtain them were vague, impractical, expensive, or all of the above.  For me, a 300-mile roundtrip (@ 58 cents a mile plus my hourly rate) was actually proposed by one supervisor.

After 3 weeks, I lost confidence in my employer to make order out of obvious chaos.  Other trainees faced the same barriers but I don’t know how many opted to resign or wait for Godot.

But it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of a few little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. The ramifications of delays, ineptitude, and the alphabet soup procedures could be far-reaching.

Last week it was revealed in Washington that internal Census documents acknowledged serious errors will occur because the Census Bureau is rushing the process. Right now, the Census Bureau plans to end the count one month early and cut data processing by two months.

The victims of any undercount: rural areas and communities of color.

Dozens of critical social services, education, and infrastructure programs depend on census-guided federal grants that provide many billions of dollars to states and local areas each year.

Participation in the census—or lack of—therefore has real fiscal consequences.

  Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher