My lack of enthusiasm for Matthew Falconer is no secret. I am disgusted by his nasty, ugly, false attacks on his opponents, especially Teresa Jacobs. During just this past week, he sent out a robocall and mailer all boldly lying that Teresa was pro-abortion. Absolutely, positively not true. Teresa is a proud mother of four children and a Catholic...and definitely pro-life. I have spoken to both her and her husband Bruce about it. I am personally very strongly pro-life, and find it despicable that Falconer is trying to lie about this very important issue.
...let's take a moment, though, and play a game where we pretend Falconer hasn't spent the past year being a nasty lying creep (sorry, I couldn't resist just one more snarky remark). Let's just look at the straight facts...
In May 2009, Falconer attended a Orange County Young Republicans (OCYR) meeting. I was there as well. Falconer came to the meeting with Nick Egoroff, the former spokesman for the
Florida Tea Party Fake Tea Party and associate of Doug Guetzloe. At the meeting, Falconer told us he would be registering to run for Orange County Mayor and that he was not a Republican, but was an independent. He sounded very proud of being independent, suggesting he was an independent thinker and not influenced by any party.
Shortly thereafter, Falconer changed his registration to Republican and registered to run for Orange County Mayor. He also joined the Orange County Republican Executive Committee (OCREC). His message quickly changed from "I'm independent!" to "I'm the only conservative in the race!"
I cannot find any record of Falconer being involved in any Republican party causes or helping any Republican candidates until he decided to run for office. I had never seen him at OCREC or OCYR, or any of the other local Republican groups I've belonged to since returning to Orlando after graduation from law school. I can find no record of him donating to any local Republican candidates or volunteering or knocking on doors for anyone.
Most egregious, though, is Falconer's actual campaign message. Falconer constantly claims that he (and he alone) can save Orange County and fix its budget problems. One of the main ways he claims he will be able to save money is through "consolidation" of county and municipal departments. Sounds good on paper, but this idea falls apart after a very quick analysis.
Consolidation refers to combining a city government department with the county department (or that of another city) which performs the same function. Theoretically, yes, this can lead to certain cost savings. For example, you could move all the employees to the same building, you might be able to eliminate some positions and merge the management structures, etc.
However, and this is a big however, consolidation of any department would require both the consent of the city government with which Orange County seeks to merge, and constitutional or statutory support for the change.
When Falconer talks about consolidation of city and county departments, he frequently and specifically refers to our police and fire departments. Consolidation of these departments is highly unlikely to ever happen. Our local municipalities are fiercely independent, and have different needs, strengths, and challenges. What works for the Windermere Police Department would probably not work well for Apopka PD. Also, each city has separate and different pay scales, benefits, and pension plans, as well as different management structures and advancement procedures. Go ask an Orlando police officer if they would like to make the same pay as Edgewood. And if you combine departments, who is in charge? The city chief or the county chief? I would expect that the actual police officers and firefighters would strongly protest against consolidation.
...and that's just talking about two departments, police and fire. Now think about all the many varied functions that local governments handle. Winter Park contracted with a private company to handle its garbage disposal. That was an intensely debated and negotiated contract, and the city has saved a lot of money with their system. However, the private system used in Winter Park might work well in that small geographic area but not work as well or as cost-efficiently in the larger, more rural areas of the county. What about the varying code enforcement regulations, development and land use rules, parks and recreation programs, etc. in our different cities?
There is no way that consolidation could be effected to the extent needed to support Falconer's proposed savings. It's just plain impossible.
At a recent candidate debate at the Central Florida Tiger Bay Club, Falconer claimed he would take the tourist tax funds and use them for education and public safety. This is impossible without changing state law. Likewise, Falconer claims he would repeal hte expressway toll increase, another issue beyond the power of one county government official. There is no way the expressway authority would vote to repeal the toll increase, as it would be a violation of the county's bond agreements.
Many of the proposals Falconer keeps making are either a violation of state law, impossible without an amendment to the Florida Constitution, not under the power of county government, or just plain silly.
As Mike Thomas from the Orlando Sentinel wrote:
[Falconer] is anti-rail and anti-taxes, anti-Magic arena and anti-tolls. He also is, all too often, anti-reality. He is inclined to making up facts. He claims he will do things he won't be able to do.
Falconer constantly brags about he books he's written and claims to have seriously studied Orange County Government and its budget. That's odd, because the vast majority of his proposal just don't make sense to anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of how our local governments actually function.
So, is Matthew Falconer too stupid to actually understand how government works, or is he hoping the voters will be too stupid to see through his B.S.?
Either way, the citizens of Orange County can do better than Matthew Falconer.