Thread: The Truth About Jack
10-24-2008, 03:08 PM #1
The Truth About Jack
In an email dated Oct. 20 2008, Jack Abbit attempted to garner our support for his campaign by making a few statements and utilizing some fancy footwork. Much of what I read was pure spin. I will attempt to point out a few facts here which seem to suggest that maybe we should not believe all that Jack tells us.
In the first paragraph, Jack suggests that he is a candidate for re-election. This is untrue. This is an attempt to make us believe that he earned our respect and trust because we voted him into office once before. We did not. Jack was appointed to his position by his friends on the Fire Commission. Jack has never been elected and therefore cannot be “re-elected”.
In the second paragraph he states: “We have not taken one dollar of special interest money!” Please. Every dollar given to candidate campaigns is special interest. The individuals and groups giving the money don’t call each citizen and ask if that candidate will serve everyone’s needs equally. The money is given to the campaign by the individual or group because they believe the candidate will best serve their interests. Period. In any case, I believe the point that Jack is trying to make is mentioned again in paragraph five. More on that in a moment.
In paragraph four, Jack clearly points out that in his first two years as commissioner, he helped reduce the ad velorem tax rate from .83 to .70. But he fails to mention that he also helped to increase the rate for the 2008-2009 fiscal year to .76. I am not saying that this was a bad board decision, just that Jack conveniently failed to tell the WHOLE truth.
In paragraph five, Jack tries to give us a little “insight into what we are facing in our race for “re-election””. He does this by negatively framing the Firefighter’s support of his opponent. He goes on to imply that the Firefighters are trying to gain “control” of the majority of the seven seats of the Commission and even throws in a little dramatic effect by asking us “How can this be?” What he is conveniently leaving out (again) is that Jack himself vigorously sought the endorsement of the Firefighters Union for his candidacy. He did not get that support for reasons mentioned later in this letter. Jack makes it sound as if the Firefighters are trying to “stack the board”. Jack has actually made this statement to many people in South Walton. He tells us this, in an apparent effort to make us believe that his opponent is not worthy of the seat, because the only reason the Firefighters are backing him is to try to overthrow the seated board. Again, what Jack conveniently omits is that this year the Firefighters endorsed Maurice Gilbert for SWFD Seat 1 (Chairman of the baord and long time incumbent) even though a Union Firefighter employed with Destin Fire Department was running against him. This does not sound like “stacking the board” to me. Jack’s accusation however, sounds like an underhanded attempt to sully the name of the other gentleman running for Seat 3.
Jack also mentions in paragraph five that one of the seated Commissioners is a firefighter from Destin whose wife is employed at SWFD. He asks “Does something seam wrong with this picture?” This is where it is helpful to know a little history. Jack attempted to have Brian Christensen (who was ELECTED by the voters and has done a fine job as Commissioner since Oct. 2006) removed by, single handedly and without Board action or authority, attempting to apply to the Florida Legislature to Change the SWFD Charter. He instructed then SWFD Legal Council Allen Ramey (God, rest his soul) to construct “Nepotism” language for inclusion in the SWFD Charter preventing Board Members from being related (by marriage or any other means) to anyone employed by SWFD. Anyone else picking up on this? Here we have an appointed commissioner underhandedly, without ever having discussed the issue in an open SWFD Board meeting (sunshine law), trying to have an ELECTED member of the board removed by submitting unapproved language to the legislature for inclusion in the SWFD Charter. WOW. These are not just accusations. I have a copy of the public notice. It reads as follows:
NOTICE OF INTENT TO SEEK LEGISLATION
To Whom It May Concern: Notice is herby given of intent to apply to the 2007 legislature for passage of an act relating to the South Walton Fire District, amending chapter 2000-491 Laws of Florida, relating to the election of two Fire Commissioners from each of three specified geographical areas within the boundary of the South Walton Fire District and the election of one Fire Commissioner from the district as a whole, and further amending the act prohibiting nepotism between Fire Commissioners and employees of the South Walton Fire District, providing an effective date.
I also have a copy of the language that was to be submitted to the Legislature. (to much to post here)
I also have a copy of a letter from our friend Julia Cobb Costas (Senior Attorney for the State of Florida Commission On Ethics). Which clearly states that it is perfectly legal and ethical for elected officials to be related to people employed by entities under their jurisdiction. This letter became public record in 2006 and Jack either knew or should have known of it’s impact on his underhanded plans.
In paragraph six, Jack states “WE must keep a fair, balanced and unbiased Board of Commissioners of the South Walton Fire District.” Keep? Based on what I have witnessed, there seems to be something unfair, unbalanced and certainly biased about the board now. That is Jack Abbit. It is easy to see that Jack will do what ever it takes to make his own ends meet. He utters half-truths and conveniently omits important things to suit his purpose.
Every thing I have written here is verifiable. A little research into the archives and a couple of succinctly written Public Records Requests will fetch everything you need to prove all of this. Just do it before you go to the polls on Nov. 4th.
10-24-2008, 03:26 PM #2
I saw the e-mail, I wish you had posted it NC.
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10-24-2008, 04:09 PM #3
Not much anyone can say about that. Obviously you have done your homework. And yes, the email should not only be posted, but your response emailed back to the other recipients. I just wish we could get this into the media to inform the majority of South Walton voters...Any Ideas?"Life is tough, but its tougher when you're stupid." - John Wayne
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NC, Thank you for posting this. It was long over due. I've noticed that some of the information you've listed is the same as what I have posted in the thread [ame="http://www.sowal.com/bb/showthread.php?t=29054"]The Demise of Journalistic Intergity[/ame] . Maybe the truth will become known to all."Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean everyone isn't out to get you."
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10-24-2008, 04:29 PM #5
As SJ might say, POLITRICKS!!!!I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
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10-24-2008, 04:38 PM #6
Thank you for the information NC. It is a shame that local politics have sunk to such a level. I would hope other members of SWFD are honest and would address this situation.
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Not speaking to the validity of any other post in this thread, I personally would like to see Mr. Abbits rebuttal to NC's post.Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - Winston Chruchill
The truth vs. The Walton Sun“The spin stops here…”
The truth regarding Jack Abbit, candidate for South Walton Fire Commissioner, Seat 3, and his concerted effort with the Walton Sun has spun/or hidden the facts from you the South Walton voter. If you are not interested in these facts regarding Jack Abbit, The Walton Sun, and this Fire Commissioner race, then do not read any further. However, if truthful facts and stimulating questions are what you seek, please read further.
WARNING: This will be long, but thorough. However this is not a “mud-slinging” tactic, what you will read are interesting comments given/questions asked, factual information, and correlations that has been kept from public knowledge.
I’m sure some of what you read may be unsavory, but then when has the truth always been easy to hear?
During the Primary Election Campaign, the Walton Sun printed candidate bios on the fire commissioner candidates. In addition to that, they printed a half page political advertisement on Jack Abbit. Now since this was not shown as an expenditure or contribution in-kind on Jack Abbit’s campaign finance report, one would assume the Sun was providing all candidates with this opportunity. But you would be wrong to assume so. Scott Thurston, Jack Abbit’s opponent, asked Gwen Break, Walton Sun Editor, if he could take advantage of that same opportunity. She told him that the offer was no longer available and the opportunity was not advertised to the candidates, but that the candidate just had to know to ask. That means the half page ad should be considered either a candidate expenditure or an in-kind contribution. I challenge you to find either on Jack Abbit’s campaign reports regarding the Walton Sun.
- How interesting is it that the only candidate who “had the presence of mind” to ask for such a contribution with the economy the way it is, was Jack Abbit? Since then Jack Abbit has been in almost every edition of the Walton Sun.
- In the October 18th edition of the Sun, “Meet your candidates” notice how Jack Abbit’s opponent, Scott Thurston is the only picture that is so dark you can’t even see it. Do you mean to tell me the Walton Sun can’t afford picture editing software? They seemed to get it right for the rest of the candidates. No. This is just another example of the Walton Sun’s tactics. The sad thing is that the Sun hides behind the façade of a credible news source. Note: I’m sure if questioned about the picture, the Sun would have plausible deniability.
- Both Scott Thurston and Jon Kazek has attended every candidate Q/A forum he has been invited to. However, fire commissioner candidates are not invited to the forums in the primary election, because they are voted upon in the general election. As well, most of the forums are partisan, fire commissioner seats are not. Regardless, both Scott Thurston and Jon Kazek have been registered Republican since the age of 18. We can’t say the same for Jack Abbit, who changed his party affiliation to Republican just in time to seek the Walton GOP recommendation. How is that for ethical? As far as his 37 years of professional experience, he has been a fire commissioner for 2 YEARS, and he didn’t even campaign, he was APPOINTED, which means the only South Walton citizen votes he received were those who already sat on the fire commission. Also, explain to me how the letter to the editor written by Nancy James bashing the firefighters’ union so conveniently got printed at the same time as Gwen Break’s column. Wouldn’t it be more believable to see that after the “concerned citizen” had a chance to think about it and do some research, like the following week? WOW, Nancy, outstanding timing! I’ll take tomorrow’s lottery picks, please.
- Not one firefighter was contacted to confirm this so-called “fact.” As a matter of fact, both Jack Abbit and Ed Wright were both appointed, by the sitting members of the fire board. South Walton Firefighters have a vested interest in the future of South Walton Fire District. It’s their passion and their job! Neither the firefighters nor the Fire Chief want the fire board “stacked” in a bias manner. That would promote the greed and the typical labor union mentality which so often consumes an organization from the inside out. Similar to cutting off their nose to spite their face. No. The firefighters endorse candidates who will protect the future of SWFD by being financially responsible and ensuring the firefighters have what they need to do their jobs effectively and safely, therefore keeping you the citizen safe. Proof that the firefighters endorse the best candidate vs. just a firefighter is as follows:
2. Firefighters endorsed Jon Kazek, not Ed Wright, who was a professional firefighter for 35 years.
South Walton Firefighters want the best person for the job and it is obvious why the firefighters have endorsed Scott Thurston & Jon Kazek.
- In regards to the subject of “stacking” the fire board, I’d like to point out that BOTH Jack Abbit and Ed Wright WERE NOT ELECTED. THEY WERE APPOINTED by friends already seated on the board. Yes they are incumbents, but by no means did they campaign and win the trust and favor of the South Walton voters, with the exception of the voters who sat on the fire commission. Which brings up the question: If a current fire board member wanted to step down from office, what’s to stop them from sitting past their term, then stepping down, effectively giving the sitting board the power over the voter democracy to appoint whom ever they want? Just a thought in regards to “stacking the board.” “More of the Good-ole-boy Network in Walton County?”
- Wow! That sounds great. If only Jack “walked the walk.” Scott Thurston can walk the walk, and he did when he joined the ranks of firefighters standing at the intersections of South Walton, collecting money for Muscular Dystrophy Association(Jerry’s Kids). Jack was not there. Even the Fire Chief, Rick Talbert was there, and he even authorized the firefighters to conduct this “MDA Boot Drive” on duty. Where were you, Jack, and really, how passionate are you about our community? After speaking with numerous firefighters, I could not find one firefighter who has seen Jack Abbit at any local firefighter charity event. If you look at Jack’s candidate bio, how much of it refers to his club memberships and self-centered accolades? One would think that a candidate running for fire commissioner would highlight the accomplishments pertinent to the office for which he is running. There is little mention as to what he has done. Yes, he mentions the millage rate and that he successfully negotiated the collective bargaining agreement with the firefighter union. But, what did Jack Abbit do that the rest of the board did not? And what isn’t Jack telling you?
- A couple of years back, Les Hallman, South Walton’s former fire chief took a job with the state. It was the job of the fire board to choose and appoint a fire chief. Jack Abbit was the chair of the committee to review applications/resumes, interview candidates, make a recommendation, and inform the fire board about the candidates prior to a vote. There were many good candidates. However, one candidate who Jack certainly favored, had a history of…let’s just say it involved alcohol and driving. The other commissioners were not made aware of the candidate's past arrest record, and once it became common knowledge Jack’s vote was outnumbered. Now let me refer you to his quote regarding moral and ethic responsibility. Is honesty a trait the South Walton voter wants in a fire commissioner? If so, then it is apparent that Jack Abbit isn’t the best person for the job. Remember, don’t be fooled by Jack Abbit or Ed Wright’s facade of incumbency, THEY WERE APPOINTED. It’s not like either one of these candidates currently represent the South Walton voters’ choice.
- In September, the Walton GOP hosted a closed candidate forum wherein they asked a series of questions to determine their recommendation for fire commissioner. For those of you who know Jack Abbit, this may be confusing because you may have known him to be a registered Democrat. And you would be correct, except for the couple months preceding this GOP forum. Ethic responsibility? Wrong! It is no secret that the majority of Walton County is conservative. Jack is a smart guy, and although I can’t speak to his intentions, I can point out the convenience of being a registered Republican just in time to seek the Walton Republican’s recommendation for fire commissioner. Of course, the Walton GOP wouldn’t recommend a “flip-flopper.” How’s that for ethic responsibility? And as far as the fire commissioner seat being Non-Partisan, know this: Non-Partisan refers to the seat, not to the person filling the seat, and how their decisions are be made.
- One of the main functions of the fire board is to be fiscally responsible. If Jack Abbit wants to claim fiscal responsibility, then explain why did the board purchase flat-screen tvs for admin. offices and chose not purchase vital equipment (hose, valves, tools, etc.) for each fire engine to combat condo fires?
- Jack Abbit has attempted to further his campaign by using his position as an appointed fire commissioner and by using public property, ie. firetruck, which was paid for by the taxpayers. This would appear to be a violation of the of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act was designed to prevent candidates from using taxpayers’ dollars for personal political gain. How is this fiscally responsible?
- Jack Abbit has been making attempts to discredit or smear Scott Thurston and Jon Kazek by saying “They are supported by the firefighter union,” as if that is a bad thing to have the full support of the firefighters when you’re running for FIRE COMMISSIONER! Like I said earlier, South Walton Professional Firefighters will endorse and support the best person for the job. Who better to know what is needed to protect the public than those who protect the public?! What he does not tell you is that in May, June, & July of 2008, Jack Abbit, himself, contacted the firefighters’ union, desperately seeking their endorsement. Ultimately, the firefighters endorsed, Scott Thurston, Jack Abbit’s opponent. I have a feeling the Walton Sun articles would read very differently if the firefighters had endorsed Jack Abbit. I’m sure Jack would be shouting as loudly as possible to everyone who could hear, that he was endorsed by the firefighters’ union. The question is: If Jack Abbit has done as good a job as he claims of taking care of the firefighters, then why have the firefighters endorsed his opponent, Scott Thurston for South Walton Fire Commissioner, Seat 3?
Scott Thurston, for South Walton Fire Commissioner, Seat 3
(Work) 850-622-2313, (Home) 850-622-9589
Jon Kazek, for South Walton Fire Commissioner, Seat 5
Mark Youngblood, President, South Walton Professional Firefighters Association
Rick Thomason, Publisher, The Walton Sun
Gwen Break, Editor, The Walton Sun
Nate Kelly, General Assignment, The Walton Sun
Jack Abbit, Appointed Incumbent for South Walton Fire Commissioner, Seat 3
Ed Wright, Appointed Incumbent for South Walton Fire Commissioner, Seat 5
firstname.lastname@example.org"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean everyone isn't out to get you."
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10-25-2008, 06:38 AM #9Jack, The truth will set you free!!!!
10-28-2008, 12:04 PM #10
Brother, sounds like you have done your homework and I appreciate your post on this matter. I too wonder what kind of influence Mr. Abbit has with the Walton Sun and if there have been any laws broken dealing with election bias and equal time. A reporter from the Sun called me and interviewed me about fire boards and their make-up. Honest answers were given, but not printed. Are firefighters trying to stack boards across the state? NO.
Remember this: those who hold public office, family member, those supported by the firefighters, and even those who are not supported by the firefighters, first and foremost have a responsibility to the citizens, and that responsibility cannot be taken lightly.
Good luck candidates.
Florida Professional Firefighters
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