As some important local issues heat up as summer ends, one question rings louder and louder: why are local elected Democrats so silent?! Even outside of the specific issues, like Sick Time, there are clear First Amendment and principles of democracy at stake and we need our Democrats’ voices. Why would Republican leaders and conservatives change course when our own Democrats won’t even say a word on the issues?
Earned Sick Time blew up over the past few weeks, even with many local Democratic and progressive activists calling it the “death of democracy” in our community. Yet the public has not heard much from elected Democrats. The coalition seems ready to only hammer Republicans when they cannot even garner a statement from elected officials in their own party. Scott Randolph, chair of the local Orange County Democrats, is also a lawyer and consultant for the campaign, but continues to be unable to recruit more fellow elected Democrats to join him on this issue.
No local elected Democrats have stepped up and joined Randolph despite having overwhelming control of the Orlando City Council at the municipal level – where the sick time measure originally started – including the highest ranking elected Democrat in Central Florida, Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Dyer should have an opinion, even though the Chamber of Commerce got him to stay silent. But in the mayoral race, Dyer declared his support for an Equal Benefits Ordinance which is exactly what the Chamber of Commerce is against regarding Sick Time: the regulation of benefits between an employer and employees. When Dyer received the endorsement of Equality Florida, they cited a 100% questionnaire and record, with one of the few questions being asked being support for an EBO.
However, despite Dyer’s support and the Equality Florida endorsement, he still has yet to push the measure or even propose a hearing on it. So perhaps the Chamber killed that idea too with little reaction from the Equality Florida community.This means Mayor Dyer should at least have an opinion on the Sick Time measure. And now is the time to apply pressure for an answer as Dyer admitted he is considering a run for Governor. This would help elevate the issue of Earned Sick Time to the statewide level. With or without Mayor Dyer’s support, that seems like a good move for pushing good policy for more Floridians.
Dyer’s not alone in his silence. Even County Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell, the one Democrat left on the County Commission, said that these matters should be between an employer and an “isolated employee,” a typical conservative talking point against the policy.
The coalition fighting for Sick Time is not calling on local elected Democrats and they definitely are not calling them out for their silence. Voter suppression of 50,000 citizens demands a response from our local elected Democrats, if nothing else. They do not have to support it, but they should make a statement one way or another a
So, why are they so silent now? As our community calls out the County Commission for not standing with the people, who do these Democrats really work for in all this (Chambercrats)? Why aren’t more elected local Democrats calling out the Republicans and Chamber on their skirting the law?s this fight goes on. In the case of the domestic registry, having Democrats at the Orlando City Council level support the measure and push it publicly definitely had an impact on the County Commission’s actions.
The Chamber’s reach clearly crosses party lines to protect the establishment control. And that is the larger issue at hand because if citizens are going to have a voice again locally, it doesn’t matter if it is Sick Time or any other initiative. We have a bigger obstacle in our way than simply the Republicans on the County Commission.