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Truth Test: Hogan and Brown Mayoral Ads

2:59 PM, May 17, 2011   |    comments
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MORE: Brown, Hogan in Tight Race for Mayor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you followed us through the state and national elections, you know all about our fact checking stories we call The Truth Test.

It's an effort to vet political television ads to let you know which elements of the ad are true and which are false. With the race for mayor of Jacksonville tightening, the first negative ads appeared from both the mayoral candidates last week. 

Here are those statements vetted. Each candidate's response to the ads is posted in its entirety. None of their statements has been edited in any way.

The first ad from the Brown campaign is called "Stakes:"

Statement: "Mike Hogan's been living off the taxpayers for 20 years."

It's true that Hogan has held elected office for 20 years, first on the Jacksonville City Council, then on the State Legislature and finally as Duval County tax collector. The ad also has an image that says "career politician." It's up to you to decide if that's a positive or a negative.

Statement: Hogan has taken 16 pay raises from taxpayers. Sixteen.  Come on.

It's also true that Hogan has received salary increases over the years. The voter must decide if Hogan's raises are a problem. There is nothing improper in them.

Statement: "Yet Hogan cut funding for our local schools."

This last statement is both true and false. It's true that Hogan cut funding for schools when he was a state lawmaker, but he subsequently voted to put the money back. READ THE BUDGET.

The next ad from the Hogan campaign is called "Downtown:"

Statement: "Tired of politicians wasting thousands of dollars on overpriced projects downtown? Alvin Brown wants to spend even more."

Whether or not our tax dollars have been wasted downtown is opinion. But it's true that Alvin Brown wants to spend more on downtown. He he said believes downtown development is key to the city's long term health. 

Statement: "Brown supports a plan to create a new downtown development authority. It would have the power to increase taxes and spending without voter approval."

The main claim in this portion of the ad is false. While Brown does support creating a downtown development authority, it would not have the power to increase taxes. Tax increases are up to the city council.

SEE THE NORTH BANK REDEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE EXHIBIT.

READ THE NORTH BANK REDEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE REPORT

There is strong imagery in this ad as well.  The word "liberal" appears over Brown's head.

It's worth noting that earlier in the campaign Hogan referred to Brown as having "conservative values." This would appear to be a reversal.

http://jacksonville.com/news/politics/2011-03-22/story/mike-hogan-alvin-brown-runoff-jacksonville-mayor#ixzz1LU8cIamR

Bottom line: As attack ads go, these are both pretty tame, but they do point out a chief difference between two men who otherwise appear to agree on many things.

Brown considers the development of downtown to be a key element for growth and economic success in Jacksonville.Hogan believes downtown should be treated like any other neighborhood in the city.

Response and support documents from the Alvin Brown campaign:

Hogan Contrast Commercial:

VO: Tired of politicians wasting tax dollars on over-priced projects downtown?
Super: Liberal Alvin Brown Supports More Spending Downtown
VO: Alvin Brown wants to spend even more.
Super: Liberal Alvin Brown Supports Downtown Development Authority
VO: Brown supports a plan to create a new downtown development authority. 
VO: It would have the power to increase taxes and spending without voter approval. 
VO: Their plan shifts millions to fund projects downtown. 
Mike Hogan: 'll invest in neighborhoods and schools and fighting crime. 

Rebuttal to Hogan Commercial: Alvin Brown has said he supports the re-establishment of a Downtown Development Authority to focus economic development efforts downtown.  The authority, as it was when Jacksonville has one before, would not have the authority to levy or raise taxes.

When Jacksonville had a DDA before, taxing districts were established within the area covered by the Authority. The districts did not increase property tax rates downtown but steered a portion of the taxes paid there into downtown development. The agency helped developers finance construction and then used other taxes to repay costs - only with the City Council's approval. (FT-U 5/5/2011 http://jacksonville.com/news/florida/2011-05-05/story/negative-ads-roll-out-jacksonville-mayors-race)

We also take exception to the Hogan's ads "Liberal Alvin Brown" name-calling.  This directly contradicts statements Hogan made in a March 22 interview with the Florida Time-Union. "After he spoke to his supporters, Hogan said he is looking forward to the general election and promised to remain on message and not go negative against Brown. He said he first met Brown when the campaign began. "I like Alvin and I think he likes me," Hogan said. "I have great respect for him. We'll differ in some areas. He's a different Democrat. He's got a lot of conservative values." Hogan said a key to winning support citywide was his message of promising not to raise taxes or fees, to cut waste in government and focus on basic services such as public safety, quality parks and drainage improvements. http://jacksonville.com/news/politics/2011-03-22/story/mike-hogan-alvin-brown-runoff-jacksonville-mayor

Pro-Alvin Brown Contrast Commercial:

VO: Who will change City Hall?
VO: Mike Hogan has been living off the taxpayers for 20 years.
VO: Hogan's taken 16 pay raises from taxpayers.  Sixteen, c'mon?
VO: Yet, Hogan cut funding for our local schools.
VO: We need a change.  Alvin Brown.
Alvin Brown: "Our city's future depends on good schools. Let's cut the waste at City Hall and keep the funding for education. As mayor, I'll cut my salary by 20 percent."
VO:  Alvin Brown; a businessman, not a politician.
 
Comment on Brown's Commercial: Although Hogan is campaigning to cut city government including employee salaries and benefits, there is nothing that suggests he ever complained when he received a total of 16 salary hikes during his time as a Council member and Tax Collector. During Hogan's tenure on the part-time Council, his salary increased from $24,496 in 1991 to $34,728 in 1998 - a 41% increase.

During Hogan's tenure as Tax Collector, his salary has increased from $131,872 to $149,256 - a 13% increase. (Source: City of Jacksonville Public Records)
 
Collectively, Hogan has received a total of 16 salary hikes during his time in city government, and there is nothing that suggests that he protested any of them. 

In 2008, the Times-Union's Littlepage pointed out the irony of Hogan's calls to cut waste in city government, while he was pulling down such a lucrative salary in a position that some said should be that of an appointed professional. Hogan said it's a waste of money for Peyton to have two police officers on his staff, and he said there are too many staffers in the Mayor's Office and they are too highly paid. "You can find some money," Hogan said. This would be a good time to point out that Hogan, elected to a political office that in the view of some should be an appointed professional's job, makes about $150,000 a year.  (Ron Littlepage, Florida Times-Union, March 13, 2008)

Hogan Supported Cuts to Local Education Funding: In October 2001, as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Hogan voted in favor of bill that cut spending by $800 million.  The bill cut $162 million from public schools.  The Florida Times-Union reported, "Northeast Florida school districts will have to cut $ 10.5 million from their budgets, with $ 6.8 million of that coming in Duval County. The plan also will force Florida Community College at Jacksonville to make about $ 3.5 million in cuts and will take about $ 1.5 million from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine."  The bill also included $169 million cuts from health and human services.  (Florida Times-Union, October 31, 2001)

Hogan Voted to Cut State Education By $639 Million: On December 6, 2001, while in the Florida House of Representatives, Hogan voted for a budget bill that cut $639 million from education in the state, including among many other cuts: $11,900,000 for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program, $3,510,000 for mentoring and student assistance initiatives, $944,000 for Assistance to Low Performing Schools, and $62,400 from the Blind Babies Program.  (Journal of the House of Representatives of Florida, December 6, 2001, page 77-136; Tampa Tribune, December 7, 2001)

Mike Hogan Pay Raises 1991-2009 (GRAPH WITH PAY RAISES)

Response and support documents from the Mike Hogan campaign:

In his own words: Alvin Brown cites the JCC report on downtown as 'the right framework' for bringing back the downtown development authority, an independent taxing authority. That report advocates raising taxes.

Feb. 9 Times Union Article: He (Brown) said the Jacksonville Civic Council, a group of corporate leaders, put forward the right framework for setting up a downtown development authority.

Feb. 9 Jax Daily Record Article: "The Task Force acknowledges that raising new revenue is never an easy task, but Jacksonville is a low-tax city, and the case for greater investment Downtown is a clear and compelling one," said the report.

Mike Hogan has a proven track record of fighting for tax payers and our students. Just ask Governor Jeb Bush:

"Mike stood with me in Tallahassee to cut taxes and fight for real education reform.  He was a leader in finding conservative solutions to the challenges Florida faced, and I know Mike will do what's right for the people of Jacksonville," said Bush.

Down in the polls, wrong on the issues, caught without a plan and desperate to gain traction, Alvin Brown is working double-time to distract the voters from his liberal  plan to raise taxes so he can put downtown in front of every other neighborhood in our city.

First Coast News

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