Senator Alan Hays, Amendment One, and the Painful Extraction of Democracy from Florida

Students of American electoral law remember all too well how the “Solid South” used to refer to a one-party state (then Democratic, of course, to ensure appropriate distance from the toxic legacy of Lincoln) in which the party primary was the only election that really mattered – a happy state of affairs for those who sought to exclude America’s Untouchables from exercising the constitutional rights conferred by the Civil War Amendments. In the safely gerrymandered Florida State Senate district of Alan Hays (R-Umatilla), embracing Lake and adjoining portions of Marion, Orange, and Sumter Counties, this reality remains very much with us, its profoundly exclusionary effects largely unaltered by the superficial difference that the reactionaries who used to ride deceptively humble donkeys are now mounted on magnificent elephants. This partisan realignment, triggered by LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, encouraged by Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and then completed in the Golden Age of Saint Ron, has not prevented Southern Republicans from hurling charges of apostasy at those who, like former Governor Charlie Crist, have shifted their saddles in the other direction. Nor has it removed the offense to democracy presented by an electoral system offering as much meaningful choice as a different kind of red state, a Soviet Socialist Republic. Most black voters, to this day still facing subtle, cynical obstacles to the exercise of the franchise, are effectively shut out of governance, along with anyone else not subscribing to the civil religion of the dominant whites. And much as in the Good Old Days, the South’s ruling class continues to demonstrate its consummate skill in harnessing unwitting, less sophisticated whites to the advancement of elite interests. It is in this context that Senator Hays, a dentist-turned-legislator, plies his trade – and with a proficiency that merits close attention.

Florida State Senator Alan HaysHays began his legislative career in true Southern style, narrowly beating four opponents in the 2004 Republican primary for his Florida House district and then triumphing effortlessly in the general election against a write-in candidate. In 2006 and 2008, having displayed the necessary qualities to those who matter, he faced no opposition. In 2010 he decided to try for the Senate seat being vacated by Carey Baker, was unopposed in the Republican primary, and easily defeated Democrat Eunice Garbutt in the general election. In 2012, running in a slightly modified district after reapportionment, he faced “opposition” from an independent and won by an even larger super-majority. According to the ever-vigilant Lauren Ritchie of the Orlando Sentinel, Hays is not planning to run in 2016, after which term limits will apply, and is using his political connections to help him land one of two high-paying positions coming available soon in Lake County (President of Lake-Sumter State College, which pays $300,000/yr plus benefits, and Supervisor of Elections, which pays $120,000/yr). Perhaps this retirement planning explains his eagerness to please his masters. As we shall see, he has served them well.

Preparing the Patient for Surgery: Islamophobia as Anesthesia

Astute observers have noted that the gaffes and perceived idiocy of President G.W. Bush provided a marvelous cover for the less-obvious, pro-corporate machinations of his administration. They certainly received more attention in America’s corporate media than the two-headed babies born in Fallujah after Bush’s war of corporate conquest left much of Iraq even more heavily irradiated than Hiroshima, to say nothing of the no-bid, guaranteed-profit “reconstruction” contracts awarded to all the usual players in the disaster-capitalism complex. The politician-as-clown motif, now commonplace, doesn’t just “dumb down” our political discourse, it amounts to a form of anesthesia, rendering the body politic insensitive to all manner of painful procedures performed beyond the awareness of our inebriated Fourth Estate. We need to remember this when considering the antics of Senator Alan Hays.

While Hays’ usefulness to the elite protects him from being “primaried” from above by his own party hierarchy, his notorious pandering to the Tea Party base protects him from below, where the only grassroots that matters is the most militant wing of the party that has such a disproportionate influence on primary elections. (Of course, in a form of political pincer movement, those grassroots have themselves been lovingly tended and fertilized by many corporate gardeners, their green thumbs unencumbered by our guardians of First Amendment freedom.) Boasting of being politically incorrect, Hays has chummed the waters with rank morsels guaranteed to induce a feeding frenzy. Some highlights follow. (Casual readers who see the material below as just another exercise in Tea-Party bashing should hold their horses. The real bashing comes much later.)

  • After the 2010 passage of an amendment to the Florida Constitution called for the creation of “Fair Districts” and an end to gerrymandering (a legal battle that has become a knock-down, drag-out fight between the courts and the legislature), Hays objected to the possible creation of a Hispanic district in Central Florida in fine style: “We all know there are many Hispanic-speaking people [sic.] in Florida that are not legal…. And I just don’t think it’s right that we try to draw a district that encompasses people that really have no business voting anyhow.” Emogene Steagall, the Democrat whose planned retirement after four decades as Lake County Supervisor of Elections opens up one of the jobs Hays now covets (and whose sobriety and professionalism set a high bar that Hays seems unlikely to clear) pointed out that we have never had a problem with illegal voting in Lake County. But other Republicans defended Hays on the grounds that he did not mean his comments “in a way that was negative or demeaning or detrimental.”
  • Exploiting a protest by parents in Volusia County who thought (erroneously) that a school world-history textbook devoted more pages to Islam than to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Hays launched a crusade to authorize local school districts to approve their own textbooks, a move seen by some as Islamophobia run amok and a perfect addition to his “buffet of intolerance.” The Republican Party in Hays’ district invited a speaker from Act for America (which the Southern Poverty Law Center regards as a hate group) who argued that Islam is not just another religion but a threat to America and the world. The countervailing opinion that American-backed corporate imperialism has proven itself repeatedly to be far more dangerous than Islam, leaving a string of broken countries and millions of dead bodies in its wake, never had much of a chance of being heard. (Although Hays’ bill passed the Senate, the legislation that finally emerged left the State in charge of textbook selection but gave parents a chance to object and request a public hearing.)
  • In a similar vein, Hays happily participated in the campaign to prevent the application of Sharia Law in American courts, even though this was not a problem and the courts have longstanding
    Islamophobia

    It is not clear whether this protester learned that the CIA had been supporting Al Qaeda’s forerunners since the late 1970s, or that the U.S. has propped up various tyrants in the Middle East for decades (including Saddam Hussein, when he was useful) but who cares about such messy details? Alan Hays certainly doesn’t.

    rules for how to resolve a conflict of laws when foreign laws pertain to such matters as contracts or marriages. The bill that ultimately landed on Rick Scott’s desk was watered down to protect it from obvious constitutional challenges, but the intent of Hays and his co-sponsors was painfully clear to every remaining adult in Tallahassee.

  • Hays jumped on the NRA bandwagon to arm school employees, sponsoring a bill to allow principals and superintendents to designate staff to carry concealed weapons. Objections from teachers’ groups like the Florida School Boards Association were ignored by the man who now fancies himself qualified to run a large community college.
  • While campaigning for his textbook bill, Hays threw a bucket of hate for Barack Obama into the mix, alleging that Obama’s election was “an indictment of our educational system in this country…. [I]t’s because our students have not been properly educated that somebody with that kind of resume could even be considered a candidate, much less elected.” His interlocutor on conservative talk radio stirred the waters further, adding that “we’ve dumbed down the education system to the point that our people do not now know to measure a candidate against the values upon which a constitutional republic can survive.” Sadly, neither one of these men was making the argument that Obama presented a threat to the republic because he was a tool of Wall Street or the corporate sector, much like his predecessor in the White House or, for that matter, the current Governor of Florida, whose background as a corporate felon involved in what was then the country’s largest ever Medicare fraud apparently looked just fine on his resume. Showing the American people the real cause of their problems is most emphatically not Alan Hays’ top priority, and it is highly unlikely that he is capable of understanding those causes himself.
  • Hays has introduced legislation requiring every student in public schools (unless excused by a note from a parent) to watch, in both eighth and eleventh grade, Dinesh D’Souza’s right-wing infotainment movie, America: Imagine the World Without Her, which expands on the familiar, and tragically inaccurate, thesis that Barack Obama and other Democrats are America-hating socialists who rose to power by exploiting Americans’ sense of guilt. Nicole Hemmer, writing in U.S. News & World Report (hardly a hotbed of radicalism) noted that even the filmmaker himself conceded that the movie was not intended for scholarly purposes. Hemmer sees Hays’ bill as the next front in conservatives’ attempt to impose “balance” in the classroom, analogous to teaching “intelligent design” alongside evolution or climate-change denial with climate science. Although much more could be said, her verdict will suffice: “By all means, use “America” to introduce students to the political uses of American history or to the concept of logical fallacy. It’s well suited to both purposes. It is not, however, a suitable text for teaching history. Not because academic history is apolitical, but because “America” isn’t academic history.”
  • Finally, because it provides a foretaste of the spectacular arrogance we are about to explore further, Hays introduced a bill to prevent public buses from stopping in the roadway to load and unload passengers. Having been subjected to the appalling indignity of being stuck behind a bus carrying poor people, Hays insisted that transit operations like LakeXpress and Lynx find some place else to stop. As Lauren Ritchie put it, “Hays needs to remember that he is not the representative just for well-to-do people who hold power lunches and tool around town in big SUVs. Those residents who can’t afford cars at all or who use wheelchairs also are his constituents.” That may be true in theory, but in practice the only representation that such constituents can expect in the Florida of Alan Hays is virtual representation – the kind that a previous generation of “tea partiers” and their revolutionary brethren found utterly unacceptable.

With the only portion of the electorate that matters to Hays being suitably doped up on bigotry and junk politics, the real business of governing in elite interests can proceed, bus riders be damned.

Drilling Through the Heart of Amendment One

In 2014, 75% of Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment with the ballot title, “Water and Land Conservation — Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.” The amendment, which refers to “land” 18 times, calls for the use of one third of the state’s documentary stamp tax on real-estate transactions (a substantial and growing number) to finance a Land Acquisition Trust Fund and be used for conservation land purchases. The intent of the amendment’s drafters was to restore funding to the Florida Forever program, which had been funded to the tune of $300 million per year under several Republican governors prior to the 2008 recession. After the recession, even when the State’s finances improved markedly, funding for Florida Forever never recovered from swingeing cuts. The amendment “sunsets” after 20 years, because by that time it is likely – based on current trends – that all the parcels of land that need to be bought for environmental reasons will no longer be available if the State fails to act in this generation. The estimated $741 million of revenue available for purchases in just the first year could make a respectable dent in the long list of projects already identified by Florida Forever. Particularly urgent in the 2015 legislative session was the possibility of buying a large parcel of land from Everglades Agricultural AreaU.S. Sugar that is seen as essential for Everglades restoration, allowing water from Lake Okeechobee to be sent south and filtered through the parcel (instead of being diverted to both coasts, sending plumes of polluted freshwater miles offshore in flood conditions). That land deal contained an option that expired on October 15th, and the sugar company had been deploying its infamous lobbying muscle in Tallahassee to quash the deal.1 (See also here for an expose of how the secretive media outlet Sunshine State News is a front for Big Sugar, and then this example of its propaganda against Amendment One.)

Enter Alan Hays, stage right. As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on General Government Appropriations, which oversees the allocation of Amendment One funds, Hays has been the point man for the property developers who intend to build on, or otherwise exploit, the land that the Florida Constitution now seeks to protect. After some back and forth with the House, the State’s final budget included only $17 million for land purchases under Florida Forever. Hays had originally proposed to spend a mere $2 million, an 84% cut over the previous year before Amendment One was passed. (To fully appreciate Hays’ achievement on behalf of the developers, consider that even Governor Scott had proposed $100 million for that purpose.) $230 million was set aside to cover the operating costs of existing agencies and departments – money which would normally have come from general revenue rather than doc stamps. Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida, commented bitterly that “[t]hey have done everything that they can to shift agency expenses into the Constitution. If they could find a way to pay for the towels in the executive washrooms with Amendment 1 they [would do] it.” Likewise, the $200 million set aside for debt service on Florida Forever and related programs would previously have been covered by general revenue, a fact that Alan Hays neglected to mention in his ridiculous self-congratulatory op-ed after the budget finally passed. For many other observers, the legislature’s action was reminiscent of the shell game played after voters approved creation of the Florida Lottery, with the intention that the revenue would be allocated to education. Instead, the money was used to replace the portion of general revenue that had previously gone to education, and the “savings” went wherever legislators felt like spending them. In fact, remembering these past experiences, some had foreseen just such a “bait and switch” during the debate on Amendment One’s passage. The Tampa Bay Times went so far as to advise against voting for the amendment, and its worst fears were proven right:

Lawmakers found millions to restore beaches along the gilded shores of Marco Island, Longboat Key and Boca Raton, but they put no serious money into cleaning up leaky septic tanks and other sources of groundwater pollution. They blew tens of millions in Amendment 1 money on salaries and overhead, and on sweetheart deals that will pay land barons for storing water when the state could do it more cheaply.

In what should be a record year for the environment, lawmakers propose spending $1.5 billion — some $60 million less than last year. And the Legislature replaced general tax revenue that had already been going for the environment with new money under Amendment 1. General revenue committed to the environment would drop more than $92 million next year, falling to less than 13 percent of the budget compared with 18 percent this year….

If legislators are shamelessly flouting the will of Floridians the first year after voters approved Amendment 1, imagine what they will do over the next 20 years.

So, how does Hays justify his conduct? Incredibly, his first response is to attempt to deny the massive democratic weight behind Amendment One, on the grounds that the 75% who voted for it did not amount to all that many people after all. Hays’ insulting math prefigured the manner in which FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski, mere days after the Florida bear hunt, ignored the overwhelming contribution made to conservation funding by the vast majority of taxpayers who are non-hunters. While Yablonski probably wrote his screed himself, Hays’s op-ed betrayed the slickness of professional help, and began with this opening salvo:

In November 2014, 4.2 million Floridians, roughly 20 percent, or one in five of the nearly 20 million people who call our state home, voted in favor of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1).

Paula Dockery, a longtime Florida legislator and now a syndicated columnist, gave Hays the rebuttal he deserved:

Attorney General Pam Bondi received 3.2 million votes, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam 3.3 million, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater 3.4 million.

But by applying the Hays percentage-diminishing math logic, they represent 16.2 percent, 16.8 percent and 16.9 percent of Floridians, respectively.

And poor Gov. Rick Scott. His 2.8 million vote total means he represents a mere 14.4 percent of Floridians, according to Hays’ rationale.

And let’s check out his numbers: Hays, elected in 2012 with 163,223 votes, represents less than one percent of Floridians (eight-tenths of one percent to be exact). Clearly his voice is more important than 4.2 million voters.

Dockery believes Hays’ piece was partly intended to help defend the legislature against the lawsuit its actions have invited, and notes that insult will be added to injury when public funds are used to defend the legislature against the people. [Edit 12/8/15:  The lawsuit survived its first challenge from the legislature on 12/3/15.] She reaches the same conclusion as the editors of the Tampa Bay Times: “They know that even if the court rules against them, there really isn’t a good remedy to force their hand. Emboldened, they’ll do it again next year.”

Besides his open contempt for democracy, Hays’ main supporting argument is his personal opinion that we already have enough land in public ownership, and that maintaining all that land is expensive. (Somewhat ironically, Hays includes federal land in his figure of 9.4 million acres set aside for conservation, suddenly finding a convenient use for the Big Government he claims to hate.) During a meeting of his subcommittee, Hays averred: “We don’t need to be known as the hoarding-land state. We need to be known as good stewards of the resources that the people own.” In support of this contention – which obviously flies in the face of the purpose of Amendment One – is the argument (straight from the talking points of Big Sugar, referenced above) that the amendment does not require spending solely on land purchases but gives the legislature broad discretion, and that the people who voted for the amendment did not understand this. Finally, Hays argues that the amendment, unlike the Lottery, did not create new revenue and that the people would not want “the management of our state’s resources – the Everglades restorations, and springs protection, and the protection of our water resources to be sacrificed just to purchase more land.”

Ichetucknee Springs

Ichetucknee Springs State Park, purchased by the state in 1970. Click on image for a full view, and ask yourself, “Who needs more of this?” and “Where does that clean water come from?”

A fine retort to Hays’ assertion that we already have enough public conservation land, apart from the obvious rejoinder that the Constitution requires the purchase of more, was provided by Tom Palmer in PolkOutdoors.com. Palmer asks a most pertinent question: “How many more subdivisions and strip commercial centers are enough[?]” He goes on to explain that Florida has a lot of public conservation land because “Florida has a lot of important environmental features and rare plants and animals to protect” and that development on crucial habitats has placed our wildlife into a “state of siege.” “In the end,” writes Palmer, “the critics of land conservation remind me of Oscar Wilde’s definition of a cynic. That is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Republican Senator Thad Altman acknowledges that Amendment One was necessary because the legislature had slashed funding for land acquisition and notes that the doc stamp on real estate transactions was created in the 1990s to help fund Florida Forever, so Amendment One is not really taking money away from anything; rather, it is redirecting it to its original purpose. And Lauren Ritchie, echoing the sentiments of the amendment’s backers, states that Florida’s voters knew exactly what they were approving: “They said stop spending on other stuff and redirect the cash to the environment and the state’s fragile water resources. Hays’ unfortunate commentary displays open contempt for voters.” In a separate column, she notes further that “[t]he reason voters resorted to forcing the issue through the awkward mechanism of a constitutional amendment is because their elected officials refuse to do what they want. It’s just that simple.”

Hays is still refusing to do what the people want because he answers to a higher power than the people.

Constitutional Dentistry: The Plutocratic Project to Subvert the Federal Constitution

There have long been two models of behavior for political representatives to follow. They can act as delegates for their constituents, faithfully relaying the wishes of the people to the halls of power. Or they can act as trustees, supplanting the expressed wishes of the people with their own judgment. The trusteeship model is most closely associated with Edmund Burke, the father of classical conservatism, who asserted: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” So, is Alan Hays a Burkean conservative, or does his contempt for the opinion of his constituents flow from some other tradition, respected or not?

To his own base, Hays presents himself as God’s trustee, a model that might be more appropriate in a theocracy (which is presumably not problematic so long as Muslims are not in charge):

I did not think I would be elected Florida Senator,” Hays began. “because I am opinionated, I am blunt and I am not politically correct…but I believe God wanted our values to prevail, because I received 36 percent of the vote in a five candidate race.” [Note that Hays ties his victory in Senate races to his first victory in a House race. He never needed to worry about the primaries when he moved to the upper chamber.]

Good Lord, Alan! It might be time to get your hearing checked. If you could discern the voice of God in a plurality vote in a Florida Republican House primary, securing a whopping 4,643 votes out of the 12,837 cast,2 could you not hear him thundering in the passage of Amendment One? What makes you believe that God only wants your values to prevail when the unqualified Kenyan/Muslim/Socialist/America-hater Barack Obama prevailed in two General Elections? Were those elections less pure than yours? Were the results tainted by the Satanic money of the corporations? (You do realize that the big banks were some of Obama’s biggest backers, and that he paid them back handsomely once in power, don’t you?)

The sad truth is that the only deity involved in American politics is Mammon, and He is an equal-opportunity employer. At the State level, He finds it expedient to back people like Alan Hays; at the national level, Democrats like Barack Obama are exceedingly useful, being able to get away with all kinds of things that Republicans never could. The latter statement is utterly incomprehensible to Alan Hays’ base, and probably to the man himself, a fact that underscores the malicious brilliance of the plutocracy’s hold on our polity. With one hand, the owners of America finance an “astro-turf” movement that demonizes big government and sees socialistic threats around every corner. With the other hand, they use the alleged socialist to negotiate secret trade agreements with the rest of the world that remove pesky democratic regulations that merely could impede their pursuit of profits; to protect the big banks from being reorganized or (heaven forfend!) taken into public ownership; to have the State Department use its embassies as sales offices for the Frankenstein foods and related poisons of genetic engineers; to shill for the frackers from the bully pulpit and keep Mr. Cheney’s evil carve-outs in place; to ward off the possibility of genuine public health care by placing the insurance industry at the apex of the health sector; to relax the USDA’s already pitiful supervision of industrial agriculture; and to continue to prosecute a global “war on terror” to provide cover for corporate capital to control the entire planet. Division in American politics? What division? There is no division at the top, only at the bottom, where the age-old imperial principle of divide and rule is applied with ruthless, continuing mastery.

Trans Pacific Partnership corporate power grabThus, while Barack Obama subverts the federal Constitution from above with his legacy-building TPP and TTIP, transferring even more sovereignty away from the people and into the hands of unelected and unknown corporate lawyers in secret tribunals that will always rule in the corporations’ favor, Alan Hays subverts it from below, in a form of tag team that he will never understand, by calling for an Article V convention of the states to amend the federal Constitution. Acting is if it were his very own Manifest Destiny to extend the frontiers of hypocrisy, Hays seeks to rein in an “out-of-control” government while personifying the death of democratic control at the hands of moneyed interests. The plutocratic potential of Hays’ “10th Amendment Revolution” is obvious, yet he sells it to his base as a way to honor our fallen veterans and even the pioneers in covered wagons. Presumably, they would all be delighted to know that the country they helped to build provides such fabulous opportunities for billionaires to enrich themselves further at the expense of everyone and everything else. Assuming that servicemen fight only to defend the profits of America’s corporations but care not one whit about the iconic animals that enrich our national identity, Hays would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, believing that it is not based on the powers enumerated in the Constitution. (Such obstacles as Article One’s Necessary and Proper Clause, or the Constitutional Revolution of 1937, in which the Supreme Court extended the reach of the Commerce Clause to intrastate commerce, are effortlessly brushed aside.) No doubt Hays will use his position on the Florida Senate’s Committee on Environmental Conservation and Preservation to ensure that, in the absence of federal environmental laws, Florida’s embattled natural habitats will receive all the protection that money can buy. And Hays would also abolish the IRS, replacing the tax code with the ghastly and disingenuous “Fair Tax,” a massive transfer to the people at the very top of the income scale. As Villages idiots cheer and wave their little flags, Madison and Jefferson turn in their graves, understanding what Alan Hays never will: a republican form of government, in which power is derived from the people, cannot survive when wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a few.

Displaying no more understanding of the framing than of anything else, Hays forgets the lesson of Lincoln’s Civil War and the speeches of Daniel Webster that preceded it, and asserts that “the states were the ones who created the federal government.” He claims further that the framers would have agreed with his submission of a resolution calling for an Article V convention:

If you peruse the writings between Hamilton, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and the other Founding Fathers, you see very clearly that they understood what tyrannical government was all about. They were determined to retain the power of the states instead of allowing a tyrannical government to overpower everybody, and they gave us this tool with Article V of the Constitution. [Emphasis added.]

Sorry, Alan, but it looks like you are not sufficiently well-educated. The framing of the federal Constitution was an explicit removal of power from the states, superimposing over them a distant central authority that rightly struck the anti-federalists as a recrudescence of British imperialism. Madison made his reasoning very clear in his Vices of the Political System of the United States, where he argued that sovereignty needed to be modified to take the form of an extensive republic in which small factions could not dominate and from which only the “noblest characters” would be able to emerge as members of the government. (Yes, Madison’s conception of representation was decidedly consistent with Burke’s.) Madison despised the poor quality of govPreamble to the Constitutionernment at the state level, and the small men who caused those defects. When the Constitution was ratified, the framers did not require unanimous consent among the states, as had been necessary in a confederation of sovereign states: only nine of the thirteen needed to approve (though all ultimately did). The very first words of the Preamble, We the People, were used to identify the source of the sovereignty being conferred on the three branches of the new federal government.3 And while Madison recognized that amending the Constitution had to be possible, he intended the process to be difficult. The last thing Madison wanted was for twits like Alan Hays to mess with his design.

Madison, whose goal as a constitutional engineer was the disinterested (impartial) pursuit of the public good, would have despised Alan Hays. If all the preceding information were not enough, consider this, from 2013:

State senators of different parties, Alan Hays, R-Umatilla and Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, suggested repealing the eight-year-old law requiring lobbyists to register and disclose how much they are paid in an effort to protect a powerful lobbying firm and to continue the practice of potentially fraudulent stock ownership.

Just weeks ago, we caught Southern Strategy Group’s hand in the cookie jar when they very obviously over-reported how much they earned as a lobbying firm for the last quarter….

So one of the most powerful lobbyists in Florida exaggerates its income to support the internal ponzi scheme of stock ownership and the press catches on.  Then, the head of the firm reaches out to determine “audit requirements” following last month’s reports.  Does that sound like an innocent man to you?  Does a man who has nothing to hide worry about audit requirements?

So SSG Boss Paul Bradshaw, who stands to potentially lose millions if the stock ownership scheme at Southern Strategy Group falters, resorts to the old standby… changing the law. Fast-forward to yesterday’s meeting.  Hays and Ring, [whose] campaign reports and political committees are littered with campaign contributions from Southern Strategy Group clients, now decide that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze after all.

In so doing, they hid behind some absolutely absurd numbers and made some shocking statements.  Estimating that the random audit of two-dozen lobbyists would cost the taxpayers about $1 million, they set the stage for this disgusting activity….

You almost wonder if Senators Hays and Ring are getting stock options.  Is it any wonder that our confidence in politicians is at an all time low? [Emphasis added.]

Paying the Bill for Hays’ Services: Socialized Costs, Privatized Gains

If Hays were to be paid on a commission basis for his services to Big Sugar and Florida’s developers, he would not need to worry about finding a plum job in the public sector, and one has to wonder if this has ever occurred to him. Why is a man of relatively modest means content to serve Florida’s richest and most powerful men, and to watch them pocket the profits from their projects? His legislative salary would be the same if he served the bus riders – but then he wouldn’t have a seat. Since his salary is only $29,697 per year plus travel expenses, one would have to say that the developers have enjoyed a fabulous return on their investment, especially since Hays’ salary is funded by Florida taxpayers, including the bus riders who pay sales tax on much of what they buy. Could it be, then, that Senator Alan Hays epitomizes a class of useful idiots, servants of the plutocracy who have sold their souls for a relative pittance because they have swallowed the same swill they peddle to their constituents? The republic can be bought quite cheaply when the men who “serve” in it are too ignorant to know how to “measure the values upon which a constitutional republic can survive.” Madison understood that 230 years ago. Alan Hays never has and never will, and the cost of his failure will be imposed on countless future generations of Floridians, human and non-human alike. While we can’t sue him for malpractice, we can unite to ensure that his retirement will not be subsidized by the people he has betrayed.

*******

  1. Before the recession forced a renegotiation, Governor Crist’s original deal called for the purchase of all 187,000 of U.S. Sugar land. Short of revenue, the deal was pared back to 46,000 acres. It should be noted also that not everyone was happy with the original deal. Wayne Garcia argued that the purchase price was much higher than the company’s share price would dictate and rewarded the company instead of making it pay for its pollution.
  2. Edit 1/11/17 – Curiously, with Hays now ensconced as Supervisor of Elections, Lake County’s website no longer displays this result, forcing us to remove the link.
  3. One could argue that this was a truly brilliant sleight of hand, conferring legitimacy on the elite coup d’etat that had just taken place. Nonetheless, as became clear in the early years of the new republic and the battle over Hamilton’s financial plan, Madison and Jefferson were deadly serious about their concern that concentrated wealth was incompatible with the republican project.

2 Comments

  1. Teresa Jenkins

    It has been through the rise of Donald Trump that the racists and the bigots that Nixon welcomed into the Republican Party have once again found a voice and a home. Sen. Hays is yet another example of those whose fear of demographic changes make them support a buffoon who claims he has the power to make “America White Again.” It would be amusing if it were not so frightening that Hays actually said we need to remove politics from education as he proposed making mandatory a hate-filled debunked movie for HS and MS students in all of Florida. Judge these men by their followers and those who enabled their rise.

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