Proctor and Weinstein bring GOP club up-to-date

State Representative Bill Proctor and Mike Weinstein were the guest speakers at Monday night’s meeting of the Republican Club of Greater St. Augustine; and local Historic City News reporters were there.

During the brief business meeting, Club President, Gary E. Bruce, told those attending that it is the mission of the organization “to inform the citizens and active voters of our community who help to shape our government.”

Bruce announced that on August 9th, there will be a jointly sponsored “Get out the vote” rally and barbecue held at the Special Events Center of the Northeast Florida Regional Airport at St. Augustine, located at 4730 Casa Cola Way.

“Show up at 5:00 p.m.,” Bruce said. “We’ll need volunteers to help set up and we’re counting on your help.” St. Johns County Young Republicans are participating in this informal, indoor-outdoor event being held on the first day early voting.

United States Congressman John L. Mica, representing the 7th Congressional District of Florida, is scheduled to attend and participate in the evening’s activities.

Elected officials in attendance in Monday’s meeting included Ron Radford, Harry Warner, Carla Wright, Bill Proctor, Mike Weinstein, Cyndi Stevenson and Carl Blow. Candidates for election, or re-election, were also recognized: for State Senate District 8 – Charles Perniciaro, for St. Augustine City Commission Seat 4 – Michael Gold , State Representative District 20 – Bill Proctor, State Representative District 19 – Mike Weinstein and Port and Waterway member Carl Blow.

The President explained the format for the evening’s presentation and questions from the floor then introduced Representative Proctor — who opened by saying that he really doesn’t like forums where people ask you to “get up and give your opinions on how to achieve world peace, and you have three minutes.”

Unlike recent GOP forums, the Board did not pose prepared questions to the candidates — they gave their own impressions of Tallahassee, the legislature and what it means to citizens back home.

Highlights of the presentations included a discussion of the new state budget, the cost of the oil spill in the Gulf, the state’s acceptance of Federal stimulus money, Medicaid and other entitlements and basic public school funding.

Proctor told the audience that 40.5% of the state’s budget goes to Health and Human Services — supporting about 54 agencies. “Add to that a 32% commitment to education and another 7.1% for public safety and you have a very small amount left for the administration of all the other functions of government.”

Weinstein will return to office — originally with four opponents who each dropped out of the race leaving him unopposed. Proctor, who faces opposition from Alan Kelso in his bid for re-election, grumbled that freshmen (referring to Weinstein who is serving his first term in office) aren’t supposed to be that lucky.

Weinstein explained how, in the legislature, lots of things are decided by a very few people.

“Home rule is an issue close to me,” Weinstein said. “How do I keep Tallahassee out of my back yard?” Although he opposed SB-6, against Proctor, Senator Thrasher and the Republican leadership, he said he’s not completely against the idea of “pay for performance for our teachers.” Weinstein explained that his objection was that he saw it as a move for the state Department of Education to take over the local school boards and his constituents were calling him asking him to oppose the measure.

The once Jacksonville prosecutor explained that if you attend a legislative session, you will see someone rise to speak while groups of 8 – 10 others are huddling around in groups on the house or senate floor. “They are always working each other to get their bills passed.” Weinstein pointed out that, of course, the legislators are exempt from the requirements of Florida’s sunshine laws that restrict local politicians from discussing issues that will come before their boards except in open meetings.

The Republican Club of Greater St. Augustine meets monthly — complimentary refreshments are served during the social beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting concludes at 8:00 p.m. “We welcome all registered Republicans and there is no charge for attending,” Bruce said. For more information, visit stauggop.com.

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