Paula Bartlett: Why I am Running for Clerk of the CourtOctober 13, 2016 0 comments Print Article
Paula Bartlett is running for the Clerk of Courts against Ronnie Fussell, who cancelled all courthouse weddings to prevent same sex marriages from being performed in Duval County----a move that has proven expensive as well as bigoted. Join us after the jump to find out why she is running for the office!
Hey, Hey, I’m Paula – I Wanna Marry You:
Or, Why You Should Vote Paula Bartlett for Clerk of Courts
-by Paula Bartlett
As I wrote that title, I shuddered a little thinking perhaps more than a few readers wouldn’t get that song reference, but was virtually simultaneously comforted realizing if you didn’t you’d Google it and be sufficiently caught up.
In case you just didn’t feel like it, Hey Paula, was a #1 hit in 1963 and, having been born in 1968, I endured the frequent spontaneous “singing-at” episodes that come with bearing a name contained in a #1 pop song, “Hey, hey, Paula…” (Rhiannons, Laylas, Carolines and Roxannes know what I’m talking about). Who knew that song would be so fitting for the current state of marital affairs here in Duuuvaaalll, in 2016.
Like me, you’re painfully aware it’s campaign season and I’m betting, like me, you’re sick to death of entitled incumbents, exclusive elections (See August primaries – Way to go Republicans!), bad business decisions, wasted tax dollars and wanton violations of civil rights and the public trust.
These are the main reasons I’m running for Duval County Clerk of Courts.
Clerk of Courts isn’t a glamorous office and likely, unless you’re in a law related field, frequently paying tickets in person, recording deeds or filing your own lawsuits, you’re unsure of the duties of the Clerk. Among those duties are maintaining court records, processing civil and criminal cases, collecting and disbursing monies for fines and fees, maintaining office records, processing tax and land deeds and issuing marriage licenses. The Florida Constitution sets the Clerk of Courts as a partisan elected office separate from, but supporting the judiciary and accountable to the public. The most important duties of the Clerk are providing quality timely services and serving as the portal for the public to voluntarily access the civil legal system.
Summed up, as an elected official, the Clerk of Courts should serve the entire public and ensure full access and full services in a fiscally responsible manner. It sounds mundane and perhaps you might be asking, “Why does this race matter, what bearing does it have on my life.” Local elected positions such as Clerk, Commissioner, Council, and School Board actually have a profound effect on your everyday life. For example, you get a speeding ticket and pay it at the Clerk’s office. If that payment is not timely and properly recorded a you could be subject to hundreds of dollars in additional late and collection fees. Ultimately, a bench warrant could be issued and you could be arrested. Certainly a profound effect.
Well-run, the Clerk of Courts is virtually unheard of. Unfortunately, our current Clerk garnered Jacksonville national ridicule (http://www.cc.com/video-clips/dic6af/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-florida-haters) on January 5, 2015, when he halted all courthouse weddings to promote his own discriminatory agenda just as the Florida Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage.
He’s on public record denouncing same sex marriage on religious grounds.
Now, I have no problem that the current Clerk holds these religious views, the problem formed when he entangled those religious views with his public duty and now, 22 months later, still holds the entire community hostage to his personal views.
While specifically targeting our LGBT family and friends, the Clerk’s ban most harms all of our military service-members who tend to have limited resources, limited time and need an inexpensive place to get married. As a family advocate and attorney of eighteen years I am particularly outraged when a specific group is targeted for exclusion from our civil and legal institutions.
Not only is the Clerk’s courthouse marriage ban discriminatory, it’s bad business--- costing the office at least $60,000 in revenue and as much as $100,000+.
Seriously, how often do the Florida and U.S. Supreme Courts hand an industry an entirely new customer base? Regardless of your personal view of same sex marriage, it just doesn’t make good business sense to exclude a newly created consumer group.
According to the Clerk’s own statements, prior to the marriage ban the Clerk’s office saw annual revenues of $60,000 just from hetero weddings. With the addition of an entirely new customer base and proper marketing of our lovely wedding chapel, the Clerk has outright rejected a potential $40,000+ annual budgetary infusion, totaling almost $185,000 from January, 2015, through today.
In addition to rejecting revenue and reducing services, the current Clerk exploded the budget. He increased expenses by doubling the number of appointed manager level positions, filling them with cronies and unqualified political operatives. Five of them make at least $115,000 a year, ---excessive and unheard of salaries in other Clerks’ offices around the state. One of those operatives, is Derek Igou. Igou, you might recall was appointed by Mayor Curry to head up the Neighborhoods Department in late March, 2016. Three weeks later Igou submitted his resignation when it was determined he failed to meet educational standards (and likely residency requirements) to be employed by the City. This wasn’t the first position Igou held despite his failure to meet minimal employment requirements, but that, sadly, is how it works for political insiders. Not surprisingly, Igou was welcomed with open arms back at the Clerk’s office, again, at a six figure salary, still without the educational and residency requirements for employment. It’s this sort of insider privilege and cronyism I will eliminate as your Clerk of Courts.
Just a quick few words on exclusive elections. It’s important to note that had I not run, this race would have been decided only by a tiny fraction of voters from only one party. Thousands of Duval voters would have again been disenfranchised, as happened in the August primaries of the State Attorney and Public Defender races (again, Great Work, Republicans!) As a market based economy we promote competition to create the best environment for invention, choice, variety and price control. The same is true for public office. Unfortunately, it behooves incumbents and incumbent parties to suppress competition from within and without, suppress turnout and suppress choice.
We desperately need decent, educated, intelligent folks to run for office in a grueling process that is anything BUT decent. It is necessary however, so we continually challenge the status quo. Decent folks have long thought decency would win and we’ve been caught flat footed. The middle does not hold without engagement and we, my fellow Americans- teetering much like a Jenga tower with too many anchor pieces removed- in the ever shrinking middle must pay attention, vote, run and challenge the status quo so politicians know their actions (and inactions) indeed have consequences. Ascending soap box. We are the American electorate. We are the single most powerful force on Earth for change – BUT ONLY IF WE VOTE. Soap box descended.
So, yes, my name is Paula Bartlett and I will indeed marry you. I will also eliminate mismanagement, cronyism and corruption in the Clerk’s office. I will restore lost revenue, cut unnecessary appointed positions, restore reasonable salaries and provide full services and full access for all. Thank you for your time.
Come out to our events and give me a sing out.
Find me at: ElectPaula.org