JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This is No. 8 in a series of political fact check segments for ads running on First Coast News.
This week's Truth Test focuses on an ad paid for by the Republican Party of Florida and endorsed by state Sen. John Thrasher. Thrasher is facing democratic challenger Deborah Gianoulis in the race for Florida's District 8 Senate seat, which includes much of Duval County.
It's called "All Due Respect." Let's take a look.
"After decades working with liberals in the media..."
This is opinion.
I've never been in the national media, so I can't speak to that, but the notion that local media outlets, specifically those in Jacksonville are the quote, liberal media? It's just not an accurate depiction. I've had discussions with many of you about this over email, but here's the fact.
Jacksonville's journalists are a reflection of the community and just like the community, are split. The Thrasher campaign knows this. And frankly I can't think of one journalist in my 25 years as a local broadcaster, who has ever tried to push his or her own political agenda on the air, unless that person's job was editorial content. Believe it or not, we take that commitment to fairness seriously.
Deborah Gianoulis campaigned for a property tax increase in Duval County.
She didn't even live there.
This is true, but if it makes Gianoulis a liberal, she's in some pretty good Republican company.
This ad is based on a letter to the editor Gianoulis wrote in 2009 about Amendment 1, a state measure that doubled the homestead exemption. In this instance, she was asking the City Council to approve a millage rate proposed by Republican Mayor John Peyton, to make up for a 10 percent loss in the city budget as a result of Amendment 1.
But Gianoulis took it one step further. In a letter to the Times Union she wrote that a tax cut passed by voters was stealing from the government.
This is true, but again context is key. Let's take a look at exactly what Gianoulis said in her letter to the editor:
"This amendment, which in part allowed Tallahassee to restrict the taxing authority of local governments, was rejected by Jacksonville voters.
The rest of Florida, where local tax rates are considerably higher than Jacksonville, imposed it on us. Amendment One stole 10 percent of our city budget."
The fact is Jacksonville voters did reject Amendment 1. It passed on the strength of votes from other parts of Florida where the tax rates are as much as 20 percent higher. Jacksonville voters, along with its Republican leadership and the Chamber of Commerce, said it would in effect unfairly penalize Jacksonville leading to unfunded mandates for everything from education to infrastructure.
Gianoulis believes a tax cut is stealing. With all due respect Miss Gianoulis this money doesn't belong to government, it belongs to us.
This is opinion. As I've outlined, this ad was based on a single issue, Amendment 1. There is nothing here to indicate that Gianoulis believes tax cuts in general are stealing.
Deborah Gianoulis. Just too liberal.
Again, this is opinion. What constitutes too liberal is entirely up to you.
I've attached the letter to the editor Gianoulis wrote to this article on our website.
Both the Thrasher and Gianoulis campaigns sent in supporting information for their positions on this ad. That is all attached, in its entirety to this story on our website.
Also, the two candidates discussed the ad on WJCT's First Coast Connect this week. I've attached a link to that podcast for your review as well.
Time needed for study
As families, organizations and institutions we are re-examining our priorities. Rediscovering what we can and cannot live without.
As a city, safe and clean neighborhoods, libraries, parks, community centers, quality child care, summer camp, after school programs, and care for the unemployed, the homeless, the ill and the elderly are more essential now than at any time in recent memory.
The City Council has less than two weeks to consider the mayor's request to restore property tax rates to pre-Amendment One levels. This amendment, which in part allowed Tallahassee to restrict the taxing authority of local governments, was rejected by Jacksonville voters.
The rest of Florida, where local tax rates are considerably higher than Jacksonville, imposed it on us. Amendment One stole 10 percent of our city budget. Our City Council has a rare chance for a "do-over," since our economy has changed dramatically.
After the millage vote in late July, there will still be time to go through the budget line-by-line and find areas to make cuts that the mayor may have missed.
There will still be time to discuss whether every aspect of city government should share in the same belt tightening every citizen is going through.
With the millage rate restored, we will be able to imagine the kind of city we want to live in and how to operate in the most effective and efficient manner.
And that discussion could be really fun.
DEBORAH GIANOULIS HEALD
Ponte Vedra Beach
Supporting documents from the Gianoulis Campaign
Supporting documents from the Thrasher Campaign
First Coast News