As reported by BocaWatch last month (see “So the Games have Begun: Local Election 2018!!!”), the March municipal election is off and running and so are the incumbents.
Boca Raton City Council seats C and D are up this election cycle with current City Council members, Jeremy Rodgers and Robert Weinroth officially announcing for re-election. Certainly not an unexpected event….
Attached below are the Campaign Treasurer’s reports filed by these candidates for the period ending July 31, 2017. There are some interesting facts contained that will be highlighted later in this article.
But first….for an incumbent to file this early in front of the election is an old ‘parlor trick’ of entrenched incumbents seeking to dissuade competition; to gather a war chest of funds; and, to lock down early support insuring re-election.
Do not fall for this tactic…do not commit at this early time, before the field of candidates expands and provides you with actual choices, especially choices that may be ‘resident friendly’. Choices committed to putting the resident’s interest in first position and not be a mere shill for developer/consultant interests.
The developer/consultant class, the big dollar contributors that have pecuniary interests in the elected official’s vote, is the heart of the ‘incumbent intimidation’ factor; an incumbent’s ability to influence outcomes that may be at odds with the residents’ best interest; projects that may be odds with the greater good, the common good. A prime question needing to be explored is whether the incumbent has demonstrated through community involvement and/or voting history, to have the residents’ interest at heart or whether campaign contributions are that candidate’s prime motivator.
So how do you, the voter, know….simple….FOLLOW THE MONEY…. look at the campaign reports.
Each month between now and March, candidates are required to file with the City Clerk’s office their financial activities; to wit: an itemized contribution and expenditure listing. This listing reveals what individuals or entities have demonstrated interest in that candidate being elected or re-elected; an opportunity to formulate opinion on the donor’s motivation for the contribution.
Incumbents have a distinct advantage….the incumbent, in this election cycle, has 6 months to utilize intimidation tactics to garner contributions. Through word or deed, the intimidation factor is often very subtle but the interested party gets the message, loud and clear. Here is where the observer begins to see the developer/consultant come forward with campaign contributions, the maximum being $1,000 dollars per person and/or entity. This reaction can be especially interesting. For example, if an interested party has a family of four and one business entity, that individual may contribute up to a total of $5,000 to a candidate’s campaign. This is a technique called ‘bundling’ and has already been and will continue to be present in this election cycle especially for the incumbent(s).
Bundling is already seen in the June and July filings of Councilman Weinroth. In the two filing period since his announcement, Councilman Weinroth has amassed a total of $34,630 ($16K in June and 18K in July) with some $31,000 remaining cash on hand as of the filing deadline. Interesting….Councilman Weinroth has not contributed or loaned his campaign one cent…all these monies therefore must be from individuals or entities that really want the Councilman re-elected….All these $1,000 contributors and the easily identifiable bundled contributions surely must be because the Councilman has been doing a remarkable, meritorious job representing the interests of the Boca residents who elected him into office; elected him to be their ‘voice’ in City Hall.
You think??? Ask yourself this….
How many of these large contributors have matters scheduled in front of the City Council or applications in the formative stages with the City Administration or being heard by the City’s appointed boards like P&Z, CAB, and others? This is the intimidation factor that provides the incumbent with distinct advantage over any challenger and influence over the contributor.
You may think I am being overly cynical; I assure you I am not!!!
A cursory comparison of the Treasurer report from Councilman Rodgers presents some interesting differences. The first noticeable distinction is that Mr. Rodgers has reported raising $12,975 with expenses of only $245, leaving cash on hand of $12,735. Interesting enough is that this amount is reported to have been raised in only a three day time period, July 28 to July 31, 2017. Also interesting is that of this amount, Mr. Rodgers ‘loaned’ his campaign $5,000. Of the remaining $7.9K, most has been raised from residents of the city. A few of those residents might be thought to have interests coming in front of the City Council but for the most part the contributors are voting residents of the city and entitled to provide financial support to the campaign. Of particular interest is that some political figures have already begun to take sides; to wit: Councilman Scott Singer and his wife, Bella, are cash contributors to incumbent Rodgers as is Neil Haynie, the Mayor’s husband. Interesting!!!
BocaWatch will continue to ‘follow the money’ as these campaigns evolve with a watchful eye on the developer/ consultant’s projects moving through the City’s process toward a final vote. It will be enlightening to see how the incumbents act or react to the projects of their major campaign contributors. Certainly this will provide indication as to the ‘why’ these contributors would be so committed to the incumbent at such an early stage in the election process and before knowing whether there will actually be a race where campaign funds are needed.
So back to the beginning of this article….
The moral of this story is that if the interested donor’s support for a candidate is pure than go for it but if it is because of ‘incumbent intimidation’, this motivation will become very obvious to the observing public.
To the resident voter…It has been reported from all over town that individuals are being pressured to announce their support for one incumbent or another; to allow their name or the name of the organization they represent to be placed on the incumbent’s list of supporter…this is furtherance of the ‘parlor trick’ mentioned earlier. This ‘parlor trick’ strategy is meant to intimidate potential residents from filing to run for the Council seat; to limit the choice of voters to elect ‘resident friendly’ people to fill the seats of those incumbents that may have been anything but ‘resident friendly’.
Please do not fall for this…BocaWatch will be doing an in-depth analysis of the ‘resident friendly’ voting record of the incumbents. This analysis should prove to be very interesting….
There are still four (4) months remaining before the file deadline to run for these council seats. Do not allow the ‘incumbent intimidation’ factor to be greater than it already is. To allow this trick to limit the field of candidates would be a disservice to each and every individual voter in the city and to the city’s collective body politic which depends on choice to have transparent, accountable and honest government; the kind of government that has been remarkably lacking for way too long now in the city of Boca Raton.
The March 2018 elections presents a prime opportunity to change the intellectual makeup of the City Council; a prime opportunity to place three (3) ‘resident friendly’ voices on the council; voices committed to placing the residents interests above that of the developer.
Wouldn’t that be a novel turn of events…?
Your vote is your voice; let your voice be heard in March 2018….
Al Zucaro, Publisher