November 08, 2012 at 10:57 am
Thoughts large and small on Tuesday’s election:
You’ve heard the axiom, “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy.”
The theory is being put to the test in Greece and other European locales.
Why do I get the sense we’re in the process of testing it here as well?
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Fire district consolidation is a complicated issue. Sorting out Tuesday’s fire district commission votes is a complicated matter too.
Voters elected a mixed bag of consolidation advocates, opponents and unknown quantities to the seven contested seats in three districts.
Take for example East Naples. All four incumbents on the ballot lost.
Brian Cross, who spent no money and did no campaigning, beat out George Danz, a sitting commissioner with an extensive background in fire service, and Joe Schmitt, a retired military man and former head of Collier County’s community planning department.
Danz and Schmitt both indicated they’d be for stepping up activity toward consolidation. As for Cross? Who knows? At least two other East Naples winners appear more pro-consolidation than the incumbents
Contrast that to Golden Gate, where the only seat on the ballot was held by incumbent Chuck McMahon, who openly opposes consolidation. His position on the topic may have less to do with his win than the fact that three challengers, all advocates of consolidation, split 61 percent of the vote while McMahon took 39 percent.
It could be argued that Golden Gate, with some $7 million in looming debt, has the most to gain from consolidation.
North Naples, with no debt and a low tax rate, would benefit the least.
In the most high profile of all the fire commission races North Naples Commissioner Paul Moriarity, a retired captain who worked more than 30 years with the department, faced Norman Feder, Collier County’s recently retired chief of transportation and engineering.
Moriarity enjoyed the financial support of the firefighters, who also turned out Tuesday to hold signs and pass out literature on his behalf.
But Feder won with 53 percent of the vote. While acknowledging consolidation is a hard sell in North Naples, Feder said in August, “Small kingdoms don’t make sense,” striking an ominous note for consolidation opponents.
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Whoever planted the “Stop the Collier Crooks” signs before the August primary was at it again this week, placing dozens of the red and white signs near polling stations. The signs singled out Judges Mike Carr and Gene Turner, county commissioners Donna Fiala and Jim Coletta, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo as “Good Ol’ Boys.”
A disclaimer at the bottom identified the source only as “A citizen of Florida.”
Dave Carpenter, qualifying officer for the Collier County Supervisor of Elections, said the signs violate the law in that they advocate against specific candidates yet don’t come from an identifiable source.
But the state Division of Elections isn’t likely to take up the case. “Where would you start?” he asked.
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A campaign math word problem: Three Florida Supreme Court justices up for retention each received 67 percent support from voters. Four judges from the Second District Court of Appeals up for retention each received about 72 percent support.
What effect did the roughly $200,00 spent by PACS to oppose the Supreme Court justices, offset by the more than $1 million the justices spent defending themselves, have?
Answer: Five percent.
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Collier County voters cast just under 150,000 ballots, a turnout of 83 percent. In 2008, 143,000 ballots amounted to 70 percent turnout. Considering the large numbers, Carpenter said things went well on Election Day and the day after.
“Nobody got shot. There are no injuries we’re aware of,” he said. “It’s always nice on Wednesday morning when our office isn’t the story.”
– Brent Batten is a columnist for the Naples Daily News
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