July 19, 2017

By Greg Peele, Treasurer

I have a particular point of pride in our affiliate. Last night's business meeting at Orlando Brewing was, I believe, an inflection point in our progress.

Our Membership Chair Zach Detwiler presented a three-phase membership recruiting plan with the goal to triple active EC members, streamline volunteer placement and tasking, and greatly broaden our wider voter registration and support base so we can reach sustainable five-figure donations in a year. We also welcomed a new member at this meeting!

Our Candidates Chair Denise Wissmueller highlighted that we now know and can recruit for all 135 positions in Orange County, with a goal to have Libertarians running for at least 1/3 of them, and a local candidates plan that reaches to 2020. We also had our first local candidate indicate an interest in running - Frank Severino for Urban Orlando Community Development District.

Our Platform Chair Wayne Jackman recruited his committee members and started work to develop the LP Orange Platform derived from the LPF Platform.

Compared to the rest of them, I'm slacking off as Finance Committee Chair since I'm merely working on budgeting and setting up online donations. But we did raise the highest donations in a single event since my record keeping has begun, a phrase I hope to keep using often in the future.

We reauthorized the funding for our communications infrastructure, including this website, our Facebook advertising, and to upgrade our Meetup Group, which has grown spectacularly and hit the limit of the lower tier plan we started with.

At a structural level, we also instituted official written committee and officer reports (available to affiliate members) and committed to publicly posting the official business meeting minutes on our web site for transparency. 

Finally, we wish farewell to our former Chair and US Senate Candidate Augustus Invictus, who has departed to chart a new course himself in the Republican Party.

Calling all West Orange Libertarians - the Apopka City Council will be voting on whether to extend their red light camera contract for another 5 years. Let's make sure the Libertarian voices against this are heard!

ATTENTION: Our regular Libertarian Party of Orange County business meeting has been moved forward to Tuesday so that party members can speak at this city council meeting. Please mark your calendar accordingly.

Apopka residents: please call, email and fax the city council stating your feelings about the Red Light Cameras.


Joe Kilsheimer
Mayor
Phone: 407-703-1601
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Billie Dean
Vice Mayor/Commissioner - Seat 1
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Diane Velazquez
Commissioner - Seat 2
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Doug Bankson
Commissioner - Seat 3
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 407-703-1700
Fax: 407-703-1705

May 12, 2017 - By Pedro Luis Geliga, Vice-Chair

Orlando Rising Report - http://orlando-rising.com/confederate-statue-brings-more-controversy-to-lake-eola-park

Several news sources have reported on an effort, led by a small group of Orlando residents, to request the removal of the 100-year old Confederate soldier statue at Lake Eola Park. Mr. David Porter, a blogger and former Orlando Sentinel columnist, said he plans to request the removal of the statue at the upcoming May 15, 2017 City Commission meeting, on the premise that the statue is a symbol of white supremacy and oppression that does not belong in an inclusive Orlando.

I am writing as the Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Orange County to share our Executive Committee's resolution that this statue stand where it is as a visible reminder of Florida's complex history and heritage. This history must not be banished to an ignored safe space or, worse, destroyed. It should also go without saying that, as Libertarians, we especially oppose the use of any tax dollars to remove or destroy this gift to the city.

My position may initially seem strange given my Puerto Rican heritage as a descendant of slaves. The Spaniards in Puerto Rico oppressed the native Taino Indians, the African slaves, and the first Jibaros – the "mix of all three." Two of my great-great-grandfathers were slaves under the Spanish crown on sugar plantations in Puerto Rico. Across the Spanish Empire, this oppression lasted even longer than in the United States – slavery was not abolished until 1873. And, as in the United States, it was not roses and sunshine for the newly freed slaves after that.

Do we then remove and sanitize the Spanish monuments in Puerto Rico, Florida, and elsewhere in the former Spanish Empire? Do we pretend that this history never existed? Of course not! That would be absurd. As in Puerto Rico, most Floridians embrace their heritage as a former subject of the Spanish crown. I equate the Confederate monuments to these Spanish statues and memorials. They are here to remind us of that part of our history - of the good, the bad, and the ugly. And to remind us of how far we've come in our pursuit of individual liberty for all. My own heritage is exactly why I advocate we must keep this history visible to confront us and challenge us.

Florida's role in the American Civil War is complex. While Florida seceded to join the Confederate States of America, it also reflected significant Union sympathies – for example, Key West never left Union control. Many Floridian Confederate soldiers were conscripted by force, most believing they were defending their homeland from an invasion of a tyrannical government out of control. The moral issues of the wider cause – of the evil of slavery across the country, and of the flagrant constitutional violations in the Union – overshadow but don't remove the valor that American soldiers showed on both sides of the war.

Those who remain unaware of our history are doomed to repeat it. This memorial, and others like it, must stand to serve as a reminder of the dark period of time in which too many Americans fought and killed each other over a serious constitutional crisis. Florida's role in the Confederacy is an inextricable part of our history and heritage. We must learn from that history, not run from it. Keep the statue where it is to serve as one of these learning tools for future generations.

 

May 15, 2017 - By Gregory Peele, Treasurer

Last Friday, our Vice-Chair Pedro Luis Geliga published a statement - Keep the Confederate Statue in Lake Eola - explaining our position. Pedro provided a historical perspective by analogy to Spanish Empire monuments in Puerto Rico. He illustrated why it is important to retain our imperfect history and heritage to inconveniently confront people where it is instead of being "banished to a forgotten safe space or, worse, destroyed." I, along with the other Executive Committee members of the Libertarian Party of Orange County, stand behind Pedro's statement.

Furthermore, as a 5th generation native Floridian myself with ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War out of Holmes County, I'm well aware that the real history of the American Civil War is far messier and far more complicated than the children's story we learn in elementary school. It doesn't fit cleanly into anyone's narrative. There were atrocities on both sides, deception on both sides, and immense valor on both sides. Americans fought and killed Americans over propaganda told by their supposed leaders. Many felt they were defending their homes, their country, or their Constitution. Quite a few had little choice in the matter. But that's a story for a different day.

One intriguing question I saw raised on our position, however, was to ask: but wait, isn't the Libertarian position to oppose public property? Shouldn't we be against taxpayer funds used for any monument, no matter how educational? Why would we then be in favor of keeping this monument? How is this consistent with Libertarian principles? This is actually a very good question - the Libertarian Party is the Party of Principle, after all, not of public coercion like the other two. Certainly, if the proposition in front of us was to use public funds to build a new statue, we would absolutely oppose that. If the proposition was to acquire new public land for the city to use for such a statue, we would absolutely oppose that. However, none of this is true.

The statue was voluntarily donated to the city as a gift by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911. It was moved to its current location at Lake Eola in 1917, allegedly due to becoming a traffic hazard in its original location. Lake Eola Park itself was voluntarily donated to the City of Orlando by Jacob and Fanny Summerlin in 1884 under terms of a legal agreement. While we can speculate what might be ideal in a Libertarian utopia, these are the current facts on the ground. Leaving the statue where it is takes no additional effort or expense, and provides the historical benefits our Vice-Chair discussed. On the other hand, removing it would require either an expenditure of taxpayer funds or (far less likely) a voluntary collection of private funds. And possibly would require dealing with some objections from the Summerlin family due to the reversion clause in the Lake Eola Park deed.

Of course, if the statue were on private property, perhaps under care of a historical preservation society or some other kind of patron, the question of removing it would be meaningless in a public context. The Libertarian Party of Orange County certainly wouldn't mind seeing the City of Orlando spin off public property back to private ownership and maintenance. If that's what the proponents of removing this statue from public land want to advocate, let's have that discussion. Or perhaps, if the issue is insufficient historical context, let's discuss voluntary fundraising to add monuments to show that missing context. Let's add to the richness of our picture of history, not erase it... through voluntary action, of course.

 

April 17, 2017 - By Gregory Peele, Treasurer

Starting in May, we have changed the regularly scheduled social meeting to consistently be at Orlando Brewing on the first Tuesday of the month. We'd like to give a particular thanks to this wonderful venue and to John Cheek for welcoming us each month.

We would like to host additional socials at other locations around the Metro Orlando area based on interest. Want to start a Libertarian meetup group in your local city or neighborhood? Let us know!