00:04 Philip Blumel: Believe it or not. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement, for the week of August 10th, 2020.
00:14 Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
00:17 Philip Blumel: The attraction of power drives careers, politicians, to absurd lengths. Today, we’ll share a couple of term limit stories from Palm Beach, Florida and Arlington, Texas, that will leave you scratching your head. Joining me is US Term Limits’ Executive Director, Nick Tomboulides. Hey, Nick.
00:33 Philip Blumel: Hey, I don’t know where to start with this story about Palm Beach County, Florida. First, this is where I live. Second, I wrote the Palm Beach County Commission term limits law, and I was the leader of the initiative campaign that put the measure on the ballot, and it was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2002, alright? Now, 18 years later, term limits is probably the biggest issue in a campaign between the two candidates running for an open county commission seat on the north end of the county, and the seat was opened up by term limits, alright? This all sounds great to me, but here’s the crazy thing. Both candidates, former county commissioner, Karen Marcus, and Palm Beach Gardens’ mayor, Maria Marino, both have terrible records on the issue of term limits. Both have actively opposed term limits in the past in their respective political positions. And yet, both of them have somehow positioned themselves as supporting the term limits, and this is the number one issue in this race. How did this happen?
01:33 Nick Tomboulides: Well, I, for one, am shocked to learn that politicians are not being truthful with the public.
01:41 Philip Blumel: It is very surprising.
01:42 Nick Tomboulides: You can’t trust anyone anymore.
01:45 Nick Tomboulides: Both these candidates are terrible. I was not living in Florida when Karen Marcus spent 28 years on the county commission, and she fought tooth and nail against term limits, but now she’s running for eight more years. I would say for her, it’s more of a personal thing. She needs help. She is a junkie, she is addicted to political power, she needs to join Politicians Anonymous and maybe start a 12-step program to beat this habit. But as bad as she is, I will give her this. She eventually accepted the will of the people. She argued against it, but once it passed, she accepted it and she didn’t try to undermine the voters too much. She didn’t try to create fake elections, harass people, or try to get out from under her own term limits, but we cannot say the same about Maria Marino.
02:39 Philip Blumel: No we can’t. And before we jump into that, I wanna make this contrast a little bit sharper. You’re right about what you’re saying, although I really wanna point out because I was around, when we were trying to get the county commission term limits bill passed back in 2002, Karen Marcus was opposed to us and wrote an editorial, wrote a letter to the editor of the Palm Beach Post urging voters to reject it. Then when they went into effect, both her and another member of the commission decided that they were gonna run again contrary to the eight-year term limits law, okay? Now she ended up not doing so, and the reason why she didn’t is because the appellate court and then the Supreme Court of Florida came out and said clearly, unanimously, actually, that county term limits laws are indeed constitutional. So she gave that up. But you could see that she sort of fought this tooth and nail from all the way. Now, under the eight-year term limits law here, you can sit out a term and run again, and that’s what she’s doing in compliance with the law, so you are correct.
03:33 Nick Tomboulides: Okay, okay, listen, listen. I will see your Karen Markus corruption and I will raise you some Maria Marino corruption. Because Maria Marino, in my opinion, is in a class all her own when it comes to this, and I will tell you why. Look, let’s go from start to finish. As mayor, she saw 80% of the people in her city vote for term limits. So what did she do? Two years later, she creates a phony charter review committee.
04:07 Philip Blumel: Oh, the old independent commission scam.
04:08 Nick Tomboulides: And we’ve seen that before and we’ll talk about that again on this podcast. All friends and cronies, to give herself a cover for gutting term limits. She jams through two fake ballot questions, almost immediately after term limits passed to try to fool the voters into repealing it, and then she disenfranchised voters by putting that scam on a low turnout March ballot. We took her to court, the people of Palm Beach Gardens took her to court, and we won. Maria Marino got denounced by a judge, circuit judge, she wastes $60,000 in tax payer funds on political consultants, robo calls, emails and mailers to try to pass her anti-term limit scam. And in the process of doing all that, she became one of the most anti-term limit politicians in America. And she lost, she lost, she was reputed by the voters twice. Look, I even went to Palm Beach Gardens. I gave Maria Marino the prestigious Golden Toilet Award.
05:11 Philip Blumel: Yes, that’s right.
05:12 Nick Tomboulides: We named Palm Beach Gardens the most corrupt city in Florida. She even called the police on me, me. I’m a harmless little fuzzball and Maria Marino called the police on me. That is beyond the pale. And now is running on term limits, claiming to be Mrs. Term Limits, that should win a gold medal for irony and hypocrisy.
05:34 Philip Blumel: Okay. This is gonna take a little bit to explaining. How is it that Maria Marino, former mayor of Palm Beach Gardens, has done all the things as you said quite accurately, is running somehow on term limits? And let’s go back to Karen Marcus a bit and it’ll help explain why. According to the Palm Beach County term limits law, you can be in there for eight years, sit out a term, and go back. So she waited two terms, now has decided to run again, okay? Now, people close to Maria Marino, I guess she’s sort of saying it wasn’t really her, but it’s friends of hers that support her campaign, came out and said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Karen Marcus is not allowed to run again, we have eight-year term limits in this county.” So they went to court trying to say that Karen Marcus has already served eight years and can’t run again. And the craziest thing ever is I got called up because I wrote the law, I was asked to write an affidavit for the court to explain what the intent of the law was and etcetera. So naturally, I had to support Karen Marcus’s position that, yes, she can run again. So this sort of put Karen Marcus in the position of being the one that was running in support of the Palm Beach County term limits law, she’s abiding by it. Well, yeah, she is. So an ad started running. In fact, we’re gonna listen to it right now.
06:50 S?: President Trump is draining the Washington swamp of career politicians like Karen Marcus. Karen Marcus has been cashing tax payer-funded paychecks since 1974. With Marcus, we got higher property sales and gas taxes, so voters pass term limits to stop greedy politicians like Marcus, but Marcus defiantly held office for 10 more years. Now Karen Marcus wants even more. Support term limits. Tell career politician Karen Marcus enough.
07:20 Philip Blumel: Alright. This ad was sent out by a group called taxpayers for term limits. They’re close to Maria Marino, and as you can see, it sort of makes it sound like Karen Marcus is the anti term limit candidate. Whereas, Maria Marino whose crimes you just laid out, is a pro term limits candidate, although it doesn’t say that. So this is how this became the number one issue in this Palm Beach county commissioner race. Term limits. Again, with these two candidates. [chuckle]
07:52 Nick Tomboulides: And we’re supposed to be living in a Republic here, some people call it democracy or a democratic republic, but it kinda sounds like a rival between two queens. Maria Marino is kinda like Elizabeth the first, and Karen Marcus is like Mary, Queen of Scots. It’s like a legendary rival between two queens, two monarchs with so much political power in Palm Beach County. It really is crazy. And I’ll tell you how deep the tentacles of this have gone. I got a call from my dad the other day who also has the misfortune of living in Palm Beach County like you. And my dad called me and he said, “Hey, I just heard your ad on the radio.” I said, “What do you mean you heard my ad on the radio? I don’t have an ad on the radio. What are you talking about, dad?” He’s like, “Oh no, the ad about term limits, going after Karen Marcus, I loved it.” I’m like, “No, we don’t have anything.”
08:44 Nick Tomboulides: So not only is Maria Marino one of the most anti-term limit politicians in history. Not only is she exploiting this issue, trying to capitalize on it to sneak her way into a county commission seat like a little weasel, but she’s also basically impersonating US term limits in all of this. She’s pretending to be a term limits group, or at least her supporters are, her surrogates are. She’s of course got her hands clean, but the people who support her, her inner circle have formed this fake group. And when you go on their website, they’ve got stories that US term limits has published, they’ve re-published our stuff. They’re masquerading as an authentic term limits organization, even though they have just been created for the purpose of elevating Maria Marino into power as a commissioner in Palm Beach County, it’s crazy.
09:33 Philip Blumel: I know a couple of people that are tied in with this organization writing this ad, by the way, and they are genuine term limits supporters. So that’s what makes it more complicated, and so I wonder what these candidates are actually saying to the supporters on both sides. You know what I mean? And it’s funny, too, because neither of these candidates are coming out and directly lying. For instance, that ad doesn’t actually come out and say that Karen Marcus is breaking the term limits law. It makes it sound like she’s breaking the spirit of the law, which is sort of true, but she’s a 28-year incumbent, but by implication, it makes it sound like her opponent is pro-term limits, but doesn’t actually say that. And so it’s really complicated and odd. And also, by the fact that Karen Marcus came out and supported this law and actually went to court to nail down the law and is going to comply with it, also it makes it sound like she’s a pro term limits, and I know a lot of different people that are sporting her are very much pro-term limits. In fact, some of the best pro term limits people in this county that are really active on these things, are supporting Karen Marcus. So there’s good term limits people on both sides of this term limits explosion. It’s just that the candidates that actually are in the race are both terrible on the issue.
10:38 Nick Tomboulides: There’s very good people on both sides of this, okay, very good people on both sides. Okay, maybe there are some decent people on good sides, but no matter what happens, the voters are gonna get screwed because both of these politicians are horrible, phony. They don’t stand for anything. They’re both willing to weaponize term limits depending on how it best serves their own self-interest, they were for it before they were against it. Before, they were for it.
11:04 Philip Blumel: Well, that’s right. Let me dial back my hyperbole then. This is really just an election like any other. Okay.
11:18 Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US term limits. The end of the primaries is here. The first two weeks of August will have 11 state primaries, and after that, only seven seats remain. Over 300 Congressional candidates have signed the US term limits pledge to co-sponsor and vote for the US term limits amendment of three house terms and two senate terms and no longer limit. Over 60 of those candidates are in states with primaries in the first two weeks of August, and because there are two ways to amend the constitution, we have a pledge for state legislators also. Over 1100 state legislative candidates have put their commitment to term limits in congress in writing by signing this pledge: I pledge that as a member of the State legislature, I will co-sponsor, vote for and defend the resolution applying for an Article V convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress. Over 200 of these candidates are in states with primaries the first two weeks of August. You can find the names of these candidates on our websites, termlimits.com. And you can contact candidates in your area and ask them to sign these term limit pledges. Like our page on Facebook, and there you’ll find instructions on getting the pledge to candidates in your area. Help the movement by taking action to help us term limit Congress.
12:40 Philip Blumel: Term limits activist Zack Maxwell is a founder of the Arlington voice, a daily digital news publication in Arlington, Texas. Maxwell and other local activists collected the signatures necessary to put a six-year City Council term limits initiative on the ballot, and Arlington voters approved the measure in 2018. That should be the end of this story, a happy ending, but the Arlington establishment has fought Maxwell and his team from day one, and they aren’t done. For the latest, let’s turn to the man himself, Zack Maxwell on the phone from Arlington, Texas.
13:12 Philip Blumel: How you doing, Zack? I know that you and a bunch of fellow activists there in Arlington, Texas, collected the signatures necessary to put a six-year City Council tournaments measure on the ballot, and although that they tried to stop you, it won, of course. But at every single turn, they tried to stop you. They tried to block you from even collecting signatures. They tried to stop your measure from getting certified for the ballot, they tried to come up with an alternative measure to put on the ballot against you to cause confusion at the ballot box. And then even after it passed in 2018 right, they sued and tried to argue that the voters made a mistake and didn’t know what they’re doing. And that was such a frivolous lawsuit and it got thrown out also. So certainly the story’s over, right?
14:00 Zack Maxwell: Oh, it’s a never over in Arlington.
14:03 Philip Blumel: So what’s going on now?
14:05 Zack Maxwell: So first of all, I do wanna point out that the lawsuit that you referenced there at the end is actually still going on.
14:12 Philip Blumel: Oh, no kidding.
14:12 Zack Maxwell: In that particular case, it got tossed out of the county court the district court there. He appealed it, got tossed out of the appeals court, and now he’s appealed it up to the State Supreme Court. So that’s where it sits now, and we’re just waiting at this point for a hearing to be granted on the matter. But that’s actually still ongoing. That is still something that is costing taxpayers. By this point, it’s almost two years later. It’s gotta be climbing above seven figures in legal fees by now.
14:40 Philip Blumel: Oh, that’s crazy. Now this is the case where they’re saying that after it passed, they’re saying the voters didn’t know what they were doing.
14:47 Zack Maxwell: Yes.
14:47 Philip Blumel: Oh, that’s too much.
14:49 Zack Maxwell: And this is the donor to the mayor, by the way. The guy who donates to the mayor’s campaign, who aggressively campaigned against the turn limits, even signed his name on one of their big mailers, had the audacity to go into a courtroom after the fact and claim, “Well, I signed the petition, but I didn’t know what I was signing.” And the rest is history there. But yeah, now we’re dealing with, as you’ve obviously seen there, we’re dealing with the committee. The council is gonna come up with a “citizen committee.”
15:27 Philip Blumel: Oh, of course!
15:28 Zack Maxwell: To look at the issue. And of course, they stack that committee up with overwhelming majority of the committee where people that were against term limits. And for your audience, by the way, just so it’s clear, term limits passed with 62.5% of the vote.
15:44 Philip Blumel: Oh, sure, people love it.
15:45 Zack Maxwell: So it was not even a slim margin. And so we’re dealing with the committee now, as you’ve seen, and really the committee’s actually over. So the committee rushed through a two-week process, they forced four meetings within about two and a half weeks. And they brought the “citizens” together to talk about the issue, and of course, over half that committee was people that are donors to the city council and good old boys, ingratiating. “Oh, well, we just don’t like these terms limits.”
16:18 Philip Blumel: Okay, two questions. One is, I’m sure they called this a independent citizens committee of some kind. I know they love the word independent, ’cause we, at US Tournaments, we know this scam. Every town that tries to battle this does this, because the commissioners themselves, or the council members themselves, don’t wanna admit that they’re going against the will of the people. They always try to get some independent committee of people that have studied the issue and determined that these are not a good idea, right?
16:45 Zack Maxwell: Exactly.
16:46 Philip Blumel: That’s what’s going on here, right? Okay.
16:48 Zack Maxwell: 100%, 100%.
16:50 Philip Blumel: Oldest scam in the book. Secondly, they’re rushing, because why? They wanna get something on the ballot?
16:57 Zack Maxwell: We’ve been informed by some insiders that they’re trying to push it on to the November ballot.
17:03 Philip Blumel: Right, that would explain the rush.
17:05 Zack Maxwell: But here’s the caveat to that. Here’s where it’s beneficial to us, is that our state constitution prohibits changing a city charter more than once every two years. And that two years is designated by the date of the election. We did the math on it, and basically for them to vote on this in November would put them about three days shy of the two-year window. This is the mayor being a weak, ineffective, unwilling to admit that he wants to change the term limits.
17:42 Philip Blumel: And it’s funny too, that they talk about the importance of democracy, when they tried to stop you from collecting signatures. They tried to get the measure that was put on the ballot from the citizens from getting certified. They tried to see off the ballot. They took every anti-democratic step possible to stop this very democratic process, and then after the process goes through to fruition and the voters have their say, they wanna overturn it, and they’re claiming to be the champions of democracy. The arrogance and the, just absurdity of that.
18:12 Zack Maxwell: And another thing that really takes the cake in all of this, is that the city council actually held a special vote to keep me off of the committee. So in the 10 years that I’ve been involved in city government, I have never in my life seen our city council have a special vote to keep somebody off of like planning and zoning or whatever board, but they had an opportunity to let me have a spot on the committee. I had put in an application.
18:38 Philip Blumel: Of course.
18:38 Zack Maxwell: And they had a special little, “Let’s dump on Zack for a good 10 minutes here in this meeting and talk about why he’s such a terrible person,” and that’s what it amounted to. It was, “This guy’s a terrible person. And we don’t want him on the committee. The committee is open to all opinions except for Zack Maxwell’s opinion.” [laughter]
19:00 Philip Blumel: And Zack Maxwell’s opinion, by the way, is probably the most informed on the subject of just about anyone in the city of Arlington, since you’ve battled this issue for so long. You are the person to have on that committee.
19:11 Zack Maxwell: I’m the person.
19:12 Zack Maxwell: That’s just it, the only reason the committee exists, is because I was the one that spearheaded the term limits movement originally.
19:20 Philip Blumel: That’s right. That’s right. Is this council that you’re battling the same council that was in place that was battling you during the campaign, or is it all new people?
19:30 Zack Maxwell: No, it’s not all new people. So the way that term limits work is that they don’t go into effect until you come up for an election again, that’s how we avoided the unconstitutional argument. ‘Cause if we kicked them all off immediately then they could have definitely made the argument that it was a retroactive law. But in this case moving ahead we said, “Okay, we’ll let you finish out your term.” So we actually termed out two back in 2019 and we were supposed to term out another three this year but the pandemic happened and our governor said, “Oh, we’ll let all the cities move their elections to November.” So two of those members who should have already been out of office were the two members that basically made the statement we wanna keep Zack Maxwell off.
20:22 Philip Blumel: Oh, men, in some ways the story in Arlington is typical but in some ways it’s just over the top. I see many cities do the same tactics but your city has pulled out every single scam that we know of in order to defeat you and they still haven’t done it, and you know what, they’re not going to.
20:42 Zack Maxwell: That’s what’s so funny but I actually told them before, I’ve been like, you know you know I’m gonna beat me, right? And this is the reality, it’s not just a pure cockiness on my part, the reality is that I know that I’m on the right side of this issue. And there is a right and wrong side of this issue, the right side being you respect the vote, that the voters are going to be overwhelmingly furious and they’re already finding it out now. The voters that are finding out this council has put this committee together and is about to put another term, they are furious and they want to know why is this happening? Do our votes not matter anymore? So we feel very good that at the end of the day we’re on the right side of the issue, and if you’re on the right side of that issue you’ve got nothing worry about.
21:38 Philip Blumel: That’s it for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. Before we go, US Term Limits wants to pay our respects to a man who played an important role in getting county commission Term Limits on the ballot in Palm Beach County back in 2001, 2002. Activist and friend Bill Sadler left us on August 5th. For our action item this week we would ask you to consider making a financial contribution to US Term Limits, to do so go to termlimits.com/donate. US Term Limits does not receive institutional money, no packs, no parties, no corporations, no labor unions, no lobbyists, we’re funded solely by individuals, by people we call angels and activists, no amount too large too small. With an issue supported by more than the 80% of America, our success is solely based on what kind of effort we’re willing to make. Please help, that’s termlimits.com/donate. Thank you.
22:30 S?: If you like what you’re hearing please subscribe and leave a review. That No Uncertain Terms podcast can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube and now Google Play.
22:52 S?: USTL.