(Orlando Sentinel, September 16, 2012) — In a startling editorial, “Sick trick,” on Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel accused four Orange County commissioners of “dirty tricks,” writing that the four who voted to take the time to correct the misleading ballot language on the petition for paid sick leave have “broken faith” with voters.
The only “dirty trick” was the way the paid-sick-leave sponsors induced Orange County voters to sign the petition under false pretenses. We deserve honesty and integrity in the election process.
A consortium of local, regional and state business organizations recognized many weeks ago that the sponsors were luring voters to sign the petition to mandate paid sick leave with false and unfaithful promises. The petition said it would apply only to businesses; wrong, it would hit churches, charities and civic groups while conveniently exempting local government.
Last week, at the one and only public hearing about this matter, the paid-sick-leave sponsors argued that the misleading ballot language had to be fixed by the Orange County Commission; during the same hearing, we all learned that the court agreed with the petition sponsors. The Orange County Commission has the legal duty to correct the ballot language.
There was no dirty trick; in fact, the court said it was the obligation of the Orange County Commission to undertake a legal analysis and to revise the ballot question, making sure it was honest and faithful when presented to the voters.
Orange County voters should not be subjected to bait-and-switch false advertising. I am confident many who signed the petition in good faith are now discovering that none of the following would qualify for paid sick leave: part-time teachers and part-time workers in cities, counties, at state-supported colleges and universities and at all government agencies.
We support the legal action taken by Judge John M. Kest, as do our six co-plaintiffs and 13 interveners representing the interests of small and large businesses, the hospitality and tourism industry, the residential and commercial construction industry, advanced manufacturing, chambers of commerce, and their employers who understand all too well that this measure is misleading and harmful to our economic recovery.
The commissioners who voted to do what the law requires deserve thanks for their service above and beyond the call of duty.
Jacob V. Stuart is president of Central Florida Partnership.