By Jacob Engels
Late Tuesday afternoon the Orlando Sentinel reported that Sean Ashby, former candidate for the Florida House, filed paperwork with the Orange Supervisor of elections office to establish an new political action committee (or PAC). The “Citizens for Informed Elections PAC”, also submitted a petition with the supervisor of elections for approval to begin the process of acquiring signatures.
Ashby explained that the petition named “Fund Schools NOW”, is geared towards the future use of the Tourist Development Tax (or TDT) on major projects in Orange County. On what the petition will do, Sean explained:
“Although I am a huge fan of the Orlando Magic, Orlando City SC, and of the performing arts, our county has financed hundreds of millions of dollars on venues in the last few years, and Orange County residents should have a greater voice in the process. This petition simply begins the process of allowing the citizens to vote on future projects which will use tourist taxes. We also expect the Florida legislature to re-evaluate how tourist taxes can be used in this state, and this initiative allows Orange County to start setting aside money to be used for Orange County Public Schools, and increase public safety through police and firefighters.”
As Central Florida tourism breaks records, Governor Rick Scott’s initiative to lure companies to Florida through tax breaks has largely fallen flat over the last couple of years. Central Florida has not fared much better, and companies are increasingly looking at educational facilities, quality of workforce, and safety when making their decisions of where to relocate. “The Fund Schools NOW petition, is an opportunity for citizens to show that we are serious about becoming a world class metropolis, by funding programs that company executives look for, while at the same time expresses that we should have a greater voice in how our tax dollars are spent,” argues Ashby.
Petition initiatives are not cheap, and Sean explained that the PAC expects to raise enough money to cover costs from local donors to achieve the over 45,000 signatures required in order to get it on a 2014 ballot.
And who might those donors be? We will just have to wait and see. As for the petition, the East Orlando Post has obtained an advance copy, which is still being reviewed by Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post. Along with the Post, he owns several other businesses and is currently enrolled at Valencia College. Jacob has lived in Avalon Park since it’s founding and enjoys playing with his black Labradoodle Jasper, listening to indie rock, and seeking out new business ventures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org