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TheQuillTheEditor

Dear friends,

Welcome to the First Edition of The Quill, the official newsletter of the Libertarian Party of Florida!

It was 16 days ago when I participated on a conference call with the LPF Leadership to describe what I had in mind for an official Newsletter. Once I got the approval to move forward, the fast-track launch date commenced – March 8.

The first item on the agenda was to find a title, so I recruited my FB friends to make suggestions. We received 25 submissions. I took those titles and asked my FB friends, again, to choose their top two. Hence the WINNER “The Quill” submitted by Suzanne Gilmore, LPF Secretary, thank you! Joshua Knezinek’s “Liberty Ledger” and Paul Rusin’s “Veritas & Libertas” were tied for a close-second.

The buzz we created about our new title was the means to soliciting writers and volunteers to help. We hit the jack-pot with Gabriel Wozniak stepping-up to provide the graphic art, which is beautiful! His logo design is first of many more to come, including a brand new banner being revealed in Vol. II. The Quill official logo has an, obscurely located, Lady Liberty – excellent idea! It is so well placed, that I didn’t see it, until Gabriel pointed it out to me. Good luck finding Lady Liberty!

Our TOP story is “LPF State Convention in Beautiful Palm Beach!” written by Joseph Wendt. LPF’s convention is coming-up next month. We encourage everyone to attend. Mark your calendars for April 8-10 and find out all the details right here at The Quill. The Tampa City Council did something right by decriminalizing possession of pot – 20 grams, last week. But, there’s a long way to go before true freedom on this issue comes to fruition. Read Kevin O’Neil’s “WE WIN! Tampa City Council Decriminalizes Marijuana” for a complete analysis.

Libertarian presidential nominee, Austin Petersen, was in Polk County last month speaking to Libertarians about his official platform. Amanda Gluck provides us with the details. During his speech, Petersen suggests that certain situations may preclude libertarians from adhering to NAP, such as with instances of child abuse. In contrast, Lauren Anthony explains some of the inherent defects of Florida’s child protection laws in “Why ‘Best Interest’ is not Always Best Interest”. She said lawmakers make “knee-jerk” decisions that don’t work in the best interest of families.

This has been a fabulous 16 days of preparation for me. I look forward to the results.

In Liberty,
Raquel

TheQuillChairman

2016 is one of the most exciting opportunities for the LPF in a long time, if not forever. Many of you have heard me say “My world ends at the state line”, and as chair of the LPF indeed my primary concern is whatever happens inside Florida. However, I am not blind to external forces. The presidential election is our biggest opportunity to advance freedom inside Florida, and I intend to capitalize on it.

The old parties are busy doubling down on crazy candidates and even crazier economics. The gig is up. The people are on to them, and the unrest is growing.

We have the message people are yearning for, and candidates that will be championing the message like never before.

Voters will grow angrier as November approaches. After the election, we either have a Libertarian in the white house, or an old party statist and an even angrier electorate.

This is nothing but a huge opportunity for us to reach out and recruit voters like never before.

We still have much to do to make this happen.

The LPF is building a network that fosters relationships with new voters as they become aware of the message of freedom. We have to be tolerant and understand that only a precious few of these will be well versed in what it means to be free. Most voters do not even have a vocabulary to properly express their outrage. They do not have a cultural or intellectual perspective of what it means to be free. It is up to us to patiently guide them.

We have to be there with open arms to welcome them, and also with a clear vision of Liberty. Considering the state of current politics, simply demanding strict adherence to the constitution would advance liberty enough, and free enslaved minds enough, that other steps can then be honestly sought afterwards.

Thankfully, this is not a hard sell. Most people believe in the ideas of the constitution, and it is our job to provide leadership to help them understand they can live it as well.

The human spirit yearns to be free. The LPF is the only party in Florida that advocates the principles of freedom. We have to be ready to help them transition from the mindset of slave, to sovereign.

The LPF is building an educational base to train the next generation of leaders that will receive these lost voters and guide them.

A determined and focused group can accomplish anything. We are exactly that. Therefore I call upon all who yearn to be free to join me in pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to this effort. Even as we shall not always see eye to eye on every topic, we join each other hand in hand to build the party the LPF needs to be to welcome freshly freed minds in the cause of real liberty.

The Quill is focused on spreading the message of liberty, and encouraging those already doing the work.

It is with great satisfaction, and anticipation of great things to come in 2016, that the Quill is launched.

PotOrdinance

By: Kevin O’Neil

On March 3, the Tampa City Council, after hearing 30 minutes of public comment, passed a new Pot Citation Ordinance. The new law makes it a citation, instead of a crime, for possession of less than 20 grams of pot, with a fine of $75, and incrementally raising the fine to $150, then $150 increments up for each successive citation. Certainly, this is a win for the people and visitors of Tampa, and a positive governmental action in-line with the Libertarian Party of Florida’s platform regarding vice.

Excerpt from LPF Platform, Section 5-Vice Laws.  “…We oppose all laws and regulations that attempt to protect individuals from the consequences of their own behavior. While not necessarily condoning such activities, we advocate the repeal of all laws criminalizing gambling, possession and sale of drugs, and sexual relations between consenting adults…”

The Mayor of Tampa, along with the Chief of Police, has both been on record in recent days supporting the ordinance. The Mayor is expected to sign the ordinance into effect on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.  Another public hearing is scheduled prior to the Mayor’s signing.

The vote was 6 to 1, with Councilman Charlie Miranda opposed. Mr. Miranda has had 3 stints on the Tampa City Council, dating as far back as 1974. His present stint is an at-large councilman.

The Central Florida Chapter of NORML has been ever present at related hearings, and has provided many public speakers and figures for the Council to consider.

It is likely that Tampa’s new ordinance, along with similar styled ordinances in St. Petersburg City, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, will serve as new test cases on how partial repeal of drug possession pot laws have improved the lives of users and their families, along with policing budgets and court expenditures.

There were 42 ballot initiatives for this November Election, and two obtained the proper number of signatures.  Number two, is a Constitutional amendment to legalize Marijuana for medicinal uses. We hope the Tampa ordinance will help give momentous support to the ballot this November.

No doubt, this is progress and a visible marker politically that from the bottom up, a rising level of voices are demanding change in this inhumane legacy “Drug War” law.  The history on inhumane drug laws date back to President Rockefeller, and we have hundreds of souls in cages that produced units of drug for their own consumption, only to be sentenced as if they were dealing to thousands, and spending that kind of time in prison.  Victim-less criminals are victims themselves, along with their families and the tax payers.  The only winners are the prison industries and the employed jailers.

No relief is being argued here for multi-count criminals with true victims in their wake – for the record.

Tampa has had Police Knock-Raids that have resulted in civilian murder, with law enforcement having nothing to show but a single joint of pot.  This is another result of the marketplace of NARCs that attempt to lessen their own plea-bargain sentence by a resultant lead to an additional arrest.  I am certain the City will payout millions on this disaster.

Good people, like many of us reading this, need to and are standing up to act, to do something to keep our freedoms and liberties. Hillsborough, like many other counties, has a candidate committee filing deadline of mid-May. If you want to make the noble statement and run for office, contact your SEO or local affiliate today, and get your candidacy properly registered. We need you! You are invited to step-up and make this love of ours a reality.  Run For Office!!

Kevin O'neil Kevin O’Neil is a community activist in Tampa, a member of LPF Communications Committee and Executive Committee Member of the Hillsborough Affiliate of LPF. Father of 2 boys and employed as an analyst, Kevin completed Mechanical Engineering and MBA degrees. He aspires to get candidates elected to office that are libertarian.

LPF-State-Convention-in-Beautiful-Palm-Beach.docxBy: Joseph Wendt

We are having our State Convention in West Palm Beach at the wonderful Holiday Inn Airport Conference Center on April 8-10. Come and join the Party!!! We will have a reception on April 8, and our annual business meeting April 9 through April 10. At our business meeting we will be holding elections for LPF Secretary, Treasurer, At-large 2, and all Regional Representatives, as well as discussing revisions to the LPF’s governing documents.

We will also have an exciting time with our amazing speakers:

  • Friday Reception: Fane Lozman, Dan Johnson, and others will provide us with insightful lectures in a casual atmosphere with a cash bar and snacks.
  • Saturday Breakfast ($30): LNC member Doug Craig dazzles us with his exciting speech, Social Media: The good, the bad, the ugly; How to grow the Party and spread the message of Liberty without spending a fortune.
  • Saturday Lunch ($40): Marc Allan Feldman, John McAfee, Austin Petersen, Cecil Ince, Gary Johnson, and Shawna Sterling face off in a Presidential debate to determine who will be our nominee.
  • Saturday Banquet ($50): Tom Regnier lays some knowledge down and tell us How the LPF in the ’90s Beat the Toughest Ballot Access Laws in the Free World.
  • Sunday Breakfast (free): Massachusetts State Chair George Phillies will give us a riveting discussion on Building a stronger Party.

All this in a package for the low price of $110. Plus, we are giving away a free t-shirt to the first 40 people who purchase the package. This offer is only available for a limited time. To take advantage of this great offer, go to:

https://conf.lpf.org/convention-registration/

We are also looking for Sponsors, check them out here:

https://conf.lpf.org/become-a-sponsor/

Hurry before time runs out. Come on down and join the Party!!!

Joe.docx Joe Wendt currently serves as Convention Committee Chair.  Joe is from the Tampa area and is a previous two-time candidate for local public office, and a US Navy and Iraq War Veteran.

blowhornby: Joseph Wendt

As some of you may know, there was a Presidential debate in Biloxi, MS at the Mississippi-Alabama Joint State Convention that was streamed for every Libertarian’s enjoyment. There were many candidates seeking our party’s nomination in attendance. However, let’s be real, there were only five candidates people care about and wanted to hear from, so allow me to give you my perspective on them:

  • Marc Allan Feldman: Although he has encountered controversy over his “Kanye West for VP” stunt, he actually had a solid performance. He came off as professional, articulate, and presentable. He presented his take on the issues very well and is certainly a strong contender for the nomination
  • John McAfee: Strong and charismatic debate performance. He was articulate and compelling, including his personal stories of how US policy affected him and his family, winning applause throughout the debate. He came out as the most dynamic candidate in the debate
  • Austin Petersen: Better than expected. He gave a confident performance, however came off as Republican-lite. He did criticize Gary Johnson’s rant on Sharia during the debate, which won him points.
  • Gary Johnson: All I can say is WTF? He essentially repeated the same themes: He’s suing to get the Libertarian candidate into the Presidential debates and he was a former Governor. Unfortunately, he come off as wishy-washy on the issues and had a very nasty meltdown, going into a Trump-like rant regarding Sharia.
  • Darryl W. Perry: One of the strongest and most Libertarian performance in the debate. Darryl gave a strong Anarchist vision and promised to boldly represent Libertarian ideals. He even went as far as to admit that the ultimate goal is to dismantle the Federal Government. His passion and candor was quite refreshing.

To me, John McAfee and Darryl Perry won the debate. Both gave a superior performance and came off as ready for prime time. An exit poll of the debate audience was conducted and here are the results:

Name Vote Percent
Gary Johnson 45 38%
John McAfee 30 26%
Austin Petersen 20 17%
Darryl Perry 17 15%
Marc Feldman 5 4%
Total 117 100%

Although Johnson technically won the poll, his performance and the exit poll tally indicates that his status as the LP “frontrunner” is in serious jeopardy and the race to be the LP Presidential nominee is wide open.

Photo Courtesy: Amanda Gluck

Photo Courtesy: Amanda Gluck


By: Amanda Gluck, Chair of Communications at the Libertarian Party of Polk County, FL

On Monday, February 22nd, one of our Libertarian presidential nominees, Austin Petersen, joined the Libertarian Party of Polk County’s local affiliate group as a guest speaker to give a speech on his viewpoints and ideas, and elaborate on why he would be our best presidential candidate. The group was eager to hear his plans, ideas, and visions for our America, and how he would compare to Gary Johnson or John McAfee. Through his speech, it has become immensely clear Austin Petersen is a fresh face with a dynamic and spirited outlook for the future of our country, with himself as president.

At the minimum age to be president, Petersen is undoubtedly brimming with ideas and passion to ensure the prosperity of America. Along with his youthful enthusiasm, he currently runs one of the most popular Libertarian news websites, “The Libertarian Republic”. This candidate knows business; he has been familiar with economics and work ethic since he was young. He spent many of his summers as a child planting, harvesting, and selling chrysanthemum flowers to the citizens of his town. He stated that this helped instill the value of hard work into him. When he grew older, he graduated high school in the National Honors Society, obtained a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, and became a profound and award-winning playwright. Eventually, he went on to become producer for “FreedomWatch” on Fox Business Network, and later became their Director of Production.

Some principles and beliefs Petersen stands on are the restoration of our core Bill of Rights, the preservation of and adherence to our Constitution, protection from foreign threats, the inevitability of basic human rights, the initiation of greater economic freedoms, and the presence of the NAP (Non-Aggression Principle), though the list could continue. He believes that the citizens have the responsibility and privilege of keeping their government in check, and resolving issues with it as necessary. As president, Petersen hopes to restore checks and balances on the executive branch, and broaden economic opportunity for the people, leading toward a free-market-type economy. He has also stated he would defend our freedom of speech and right to privacy against irrational, arbitrary, and/or nonconsensual search and seizure attempts.

Though Petersen stands by personal and economic liberties, and states he will do anything in his power to uphold justice, there has been some controversy, lately, in the way he perceives the NAP. He told the Polk County affiliate that his “issue” with the NAP lies in specific circumstances where it would be questionably just, or perhaps, completely unjust, such as how a case of child neglect would be dealt with. He fears that the NAP would prevent an outside force from rescuing a child from the neglect; in other words, no one would be able to stop this child from being neglected if the parents or guardians did not, or even refused to. Would removing or assisting the child be an act of unnecessary force? He also wonders how one would view neglect: is an act of direct violence? Petersen also stated that he does not disapprove of the NAP, but rather questions its ethics in certain situations; he believes that skepticism is often necessary when attempting to fully understand the validity and reality of your views.

Austin Petersen has presented a strong energy and desire to shape this country into something better – a land where citizens are safe, prosperous, and happy due to the allowance of their personal and economic freedoms. There is no doubt that this candidate is principled, dedicated, and optimistic, but in order to get the nomination, he is going to have to deliver on his promises and offer a sense of security in his vote.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 1.19.29 AM

Photo Courtesy: Raquel Okyay

By: Lauren Anthony

On its way to Governor Rick Scott’s desk for his signature is a benign-sounding change to existing Florida dependency and adoption law, which reportedly clarifies a conflict arising from the circumstances surrounding a proposed adoption. Chapter 63, the statute governing adoption, allows parent(s) to choose who will adopt their child, without requiring the court to consider the child’s best interest. Under Chapter 39, if a dependent child’s permanency plan is adoption, the process is governed by pertinent sections of Chapter 63. The apparent conclusion is that this creates a situation that is universally contrary to the child(ren)’s best interest, in that it permits allegedly unfit parents to make a permanency decision in regard to their children which could be motivated by malice or revenge.

There are several problems with this legislation.

In the first place, Florida’s dependency statute allows the state to seize children from parents based on a “probable cause” standard, which legally is very low – the same as for an arrest. The changes passed by both houses of the Florida legislature are applicable for any family at any stage of the dependency process, either when they voluntarily consent to adoption, or just prior to a termination of parental rights (TPR). While the most significant portion of the text sounds reassuring, in that it requires the court to consider “the right of the parent to determine an appropriate placement for the child,” this is now the last of eight factors that the court must consider. In practice, those who have had experience in Florida’s dependency system, either as attorneys or parents, know that trial judges regularly pick and choose which portions of the statute they will use to support their findings and that appellate courts more often uphold the trial courts’ decisions without an opinion, effectively eliminating any further appeals on the part of the parent.

In order to lobby for changes to the law, proponents used a very extreme case, which few would argue represented a miscarriage of justice. As reported by News4 in Jacksonville:

“While he was in prison, and the child was with the maternal aunt, the father surrendered his rights to his biological mother … basically cutting off the (child’s mother’s) entire family and no actual recognition about what’s best for this child,” Abramowitz said.

In typical knee-jerk fashion, the Office of Adoption and Protection, established under Chapter 39 and administered by a Chief Child Advocate appointed by the governor, set to work to amend Chapters 39 and 63 to close this loophole and prevent such a situation from ever happening again. The assumption is that such an agency is unbiased, that the courts have only the best interest of child(ren) at heart, and that nothing can go horribly wrong by such a subjugation of parental rights.

Consider, however, the infamous Barahona case. These twins were born to an allegedly drug addicted former prostitute, but not removed from their parents until after their father was accused of improperly touching another child. Few details are available since dependency cases in Florida are confidential, but what is clear is that they were placed in the care of state-licensed foster parents who later adopted them, in spite of the fact that there were blood relatives in Houston who wanted them, multiple calls alleging that the children were being abused, and documented concerns of the children’s Guardian ad Litem. Instead, the court relied primarily on “expert testimony” which concluded that there was a “significant bond” between the children and their foster parents. According to the new improved legislation, this is a higher priority consideration than parental rights, even before termination.
Unfortunately for Nubia, the decision signed her death warrant. And Victor barely escaped.

It could have all been a terrible mistake. Or it could be an exercise of the OAP’s mission to “work to secure funding …from the state, the Federal Government, and other public and private sources…for the promotion of adoption…” (F.S. Chapter 39.001(9)(b)(3) ) – funds that are only available for in-state adoptions, and funds which, according to multiple sources, are bought at the expense of parental rights but are actually being used to balance state budgets (Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/05/legal-child-abduction.aspx).

ThePrickle

 

 

Lauren Anthony has been a freelance writer since 1990, a Florida resident for over 15 years, and resides with her family in Tampa.