Thursday, July 7, 2011

Commissioner Aaronson joins Marcus in defiance of voters' term limit

Burt Aaronson told the Palm Beach Post he will 'definitely' run for his sixth term as a county commissioner if the current effort to overturn Palm Beach County's voter-approved 8-year term limits law is successful.

In doing so, the 83-year-old commissioner would be directly defying the will of the voters expressed in the overwhelming 2002 approval of the citizen-led term limits initiative at the ballot box and current expression of local support of term limits in polls. The voters called for a two-term limit for commissioners.

Aaronson joins Karen Marcus -- who hasn't faced a general election challenger in 20 years -- in clinging to the position. Four other commissioners who would otherwise have been term limited by the new law have been indicted for corruption and had to leave office, three of them for prison.

Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said she would not accept paperwork from Marcus or Aaronson to run again in defiance of the law.

However, Marcus and Aaronson are pinning their hopes on a politician-led effort from Broward County that is making its way through the courts. In Broward County, where term limits passed with an astounding 80 percent of the vote, a friendly and politically active judge -- whose husband is the term-limited former mayor of Fort Lauderdale -- struck down Broward County commission term limits.

Broward is appealing to defend the people's law, but an adverse decision at the appellate level later this year could be used by Marcus and Aaronson for a basis for a legal challenge of the Palm Beach law. Broward is confident of success of their term limits law at the Supreme Court, but you can bet the politicians won't wait.

Be sure to answer the poll question at the top right of this page. The voters have made it clear as day they want term limits. Would you vote for a politician who so brazenly defies us?

(Pictured above, Karen Marcus and Burt Aaaronson in the commission chambers)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

IT'S OFFICIAL: Charter review takes aim at voter-approved term limits

The voter-initiated term limits law that passed in 2002 with 70% of the vote was an amendment to the Palm Beach County Charter. Over the next year, the county is reviewing the charter, presumably looking for ways to update or improve the document. At a public charter review meeting last night at the library on Hagen Ranch Road in Delray Beach, it was unveiled that "eliminating term limits" is on the agenda.

TAKE ACTION: Go here to tell the charter review commission to retain our voter approved, 8-year term limits law as is.

Some background: In 1984, Palm Beach County voters approved a home rule charter form of government, sometimes called "home rule." Since then there have been changes made via citizen initiative (term limits and single member districts) and via referrals of ballot questions by the commission (the non-interference rule and ethics commission). But until now there has not been a thorough top-to-bottom review.

In preparation for this the county is sponsoring charter review presentations around the county and soliciting ideas for changes. As part of last night's excellent presentation by Assistant County Administrator Brad Merriman, a list of changes under consideration were shown. Most were from the commissioners themselves and a few from citizen input. The relevant one here is "eliminate term limits." It was followed by "retain term limits." You can guess which one came from a commissioner and which one came from a citizen!

Please participate in this important process. Please take the Review Commission's online survey (or use on of their postage-paid comment cards if you attend a charter review meeting) . Please leave a short comment on the county's charter review site urging them to keep our voter-approved, 8-year term limits law as is. This can be done here.

We expect the commissioners to argue that since a similar term limits law is being challenged in Broward and working its way through the courts that in order to "clean up" the charter the law ought to be removed before the Florida Supreme Court hears the matter. Then, when the Florida Supreme Court upholds the law, the law is no longer in the charter to enforce.

Can local politicians sink so low? One would hope not. But charter reviews are used by politicians to try to undo term limits all the time, including recently in West Palm Beach.

Let's participate in the process and show our support for the term limits law. The deadline is Aug. 26 for public comment.