Philip Blumel: Where is Izzy? I am Phillip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official Podcast of the term limits movement for the week of April 26th, 2021.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Tim Izzy Israel is walking across the country to bring attention to the issue of congressional term limits. We’ll track him down and chat with them on today’s podcast. First, we have some news on the progress of the tournaments convention resolutions in the States, and about a surprise move by the Florida State House, which has revived with a bang, the issue of school board term limits in that state. For the full story, let’s turn to Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director of US Term Limits. Hey, Nick, we’ve been working on school board turns in Florida for several years, and we had a break through this last week, what happened?
Nick Tomboulides: That’s right, it has been quite the odyssey over the years for term limits activists in Florida who have demanded School Board Term Limits, we got it on the ballot in 2018 before the crooked Supreme Court threw it off the ballot for very dubious reasons. It has passed the House twice, it is now passed the house a third time, that is the news we have this week, but what’s different about this is we are hearing rumblings that it does have the votes to pass the Senate as well, so it was an overwhelming vote in the house again. 87 to 30 school boards in Florida are one of the few offices that don’t have any term limits whatsoever. This is a constitutional amendment that would allow the voters to decide whether an eight year term limits should be applied to all the school boards across the state.
Philip Blumel: Okay, so it’s eight years just like the governor, just like the cabinet, just like the Legislature, just like most of our county commissions and whatnot in our major counties. Okay, so this is clearly something that Floridians are used to and know and we know from the polling that they love the idea. What was the trigger that made it explode this last week, because we didn’t really expect a vote last week, did we?
Nick Tomboulides: No, we didn’t. What happened was, there was a state rep named Sam Garrison, who I believe is from Clay County, who had a bill to remove pay for all school board members in Florida take away salaries. And that wasn’t moving anywhere, nor was the initial filed version of school board term limits from representative Anthony Sabatini. And so basically, they did this maneuver called a strike all provision, where Garrison replaced the language in his bill with the school board term limits language, and by doing that, the bill only had to get through one committee as opposed to the normal three. It saved us a lot of time and effort and hassle and trying to jump over these hurdles that the self-serving opposition put in our way, and that is how it got to the floor so quickly and got the vote. And it was a bipartisan vote by the way of the 87 who voted for it. There were a lot of Republicans, but there were also a lot of Democrats sprinkled in.
Philip Blumel: Great, well, that’s why it snuck by me, interesting. And this is important, and I’m not that surprised it’s bipartisan throughout the state, the partisan of make-up of the school boards are different, of course, but the need for it is really obvious. These school boards aren’t the sleepy boards made up of mothers of students and like that anymore. This is big politics. Collectively, the school boards in Florida spend about 22 billion each year, a billion with a B, and they have to hire and evaluate these superintendents that actually do the running of the districts. They set the priorities, they’re the ones that made the rules about keeping their students safe during the pandemic and stuff like that. So it’s important stuff, and there’s a lot of room for corruption and we’ve seen some.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, we’ve seen some even this week in Broward County, which is one of the largest counties in Florida, the superintendent was arrested. He was arrested for making false statements, perjuring himself to a grand jury in an investigation of corruption, because he’s under investigation for mis-managing $800 million bond. Do you remember they had the Parkland tragedy in Broward County, and he didn’t implement most of the safety measures that were recommended after that. And the interesting thing is, the school board in Broward rated the superintendent as highly effective just a year before his arrest. And so yeah, you have these cozy relationships, not just there, but in counties throughout the state, between the school board members and between the people that they hire, and the only way to really sever those relationships and get fresh thinking independent school board is with term limits.
Speaker 4: A man walking across the US to push for congressional term limits stopped here in Montgomery. Tim Izzy Israel started his walk at the Southeastern most point of the US down at Key West, many of us have been there. He’s gonna end at the Northwestern most point, which is Cape Flattery in Washington State.
Tim “Izzy” Israel: It gets lost in terms like career politician, I just wanna remind everyone that they’re law makers, that’s what Legislature means, and they’re capable of being re-elected for a lifetime making laws. And I don’t think they represent current times they’re in.
Speaker 4: Izzy also planning stops in Selma and Birmingham, the group US term limits has been helping. You’re lending him a helping hand ever since he got out of Tallahassee, Florida and providing support for him.
Philip Blumel: That news clip was from Montgomery, Alabama, where Tim Israel stopped to talk to WSFA News 12 last week. On Friday, we caught up with him by phone as he continued his walk across America. Good morning, Izzy. How you doing?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: I’m doing alright.
Philip Blumel: Where are you at right now?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: Centreville, Alabama.
Philip Blumel: How long have you been on the road? ’cause I know you left from Key West, when was that?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: December 22nd in the late afternoon.
Philip Blumel: How many miles do you usually walk every day?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: It has varied because of the pack weight and just dynamics. Sometimes… My minimum goal is 13, and shooting for 20 a day. Yesterday, I met 18.
Philip Blumel: Yeah. How’d you run into Jeff and US term limits? I don’t think that you knew about us when you started back in December, did you?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: No, I didn’t not. It’s something I was gonna do, hell or high water water kind of thing… Just thought how I was just how I was gonna go about it, and in Tallahassee, I got a little news coverage and the US Term Limits, saw it and eventually made contact with me, they talked about supporting, and Jeff was the man to do it. Originally [0:06:47.3] ____ was on the whole idea was I had seen a video on my wife’s phone, she goes, “You’re gonna like this”, ’cause she knew it bothered me, and it was a guy named Nick Tomboulides that was talking to the Senate…
Philip Blumel: Oh, that’s great. Alright.
Tim “Izzy” Israel: I had no idea that you guys and him were the same thing. Just kind of mind blow really.
Philip Blumel: Right. Well, Nick is the co-host of this podcast, and I don’t know if he knows that he was an inspiration for your trek, that he’s gonna be very pleased to find out, that’s fantastic. Yeah, first time we heard about your trek was in… ’cause I saw the newscast in Tallahassee, it was forwarded around the US Term Limits office, and we were all excited about it. There was somebody who had done something like this before, a guy named Jim Cocksworth in Illinois did a trek from… Let’s see, from Chicago where he lived up to Springfield, the capital, doing the same thing basically to bring awareness to term limits, but this is quite a trek across the entire country, so I have to ask you. I certainly appreciate the effort. It’s exciting, we’re gonna track you the whole way, but what made you decide to walk across the country, I mean, you could have written a letter to the editor or something [laughter]
Tim “Izzy” Israel: I have to give some credit for that idea to my old buddy Davis, it was gonna be across-country either way, ’cause that’s kind of a monumental thing, and then he and I started talking about what it would be for, and I was like, it definitely would be for term limits, and then… Yeah, he actually came up with the term land limits for term limits.
Philip Blumel: Land limits for term limits. So that’s your motto. What does that mean?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: The southeastern most point to the Northwestern most point. You can’t really get too much more extreme in the lower 48 than the…
Philip Blumel: Land limits for term limits. Alright, great, so let ask you this, you hit the road and you’re walking along, you have your big term limit sign… I love it. What kind of reactions do you get?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: I get a lot of honks, which I take that as a positive most of the time.
Philip Blumel: One Last thing, we’re gonna be tracking your progress on this podcast as you make it across the country, if listeners wanna check up on you, how can they find out where you are at any given time?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: So the easiest way is to go to website, which is whereisizzy.com, should bring up Google Maps with a little blue dot, and that’s where I’m at.
Philip Blumel: So it’s “where is easy” no question mark, right whereisizzy.com. Alright, great, so then people can trek your progress and of course, like I said, we’ll be reporting on you too, good luck also, how are you maintaining yourself on the road, are you taking donations or… How’s that working?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: Yeah there’s a donate button on my website.
Philip Blumel: Super. Hey, thanks a lot Izzy. I appreciate it. Thanks for the effort. When do you expect to reach the end of your trek?
Tim “Izzy” Israel: Sometime in the early part of next year, maybe it’s well worth it, I… Like I said, This has to happen if America is gonna actually… I don’t know, be an interesting, vibrant place with [0:09:55.4] ____ life attaining again. It just feels like it’s being drained.
Philip Blumel: Well, we appreciate your efforts. Thank you very much Izzy. We’ve had some progress on something that we talked about in last week’s podcast in Illinois, we saw an effort to term limit the leadership of the state legislature in Illinois a place that has notoriously fought term limits forever, and then all of a sudden we get this full house vote last week of almost unanimous consent for term limiting the leadership of both houses in the legislature. What’s up?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, well, it’s a response to Michael Madigan, who’s 37-year corrupt Illinois House speaker who’s under corruption investigation right now for getting over a million dollars in basically patronage jobs for his allies and associates, his political cronies getting no work jobs from the power utilities there. And so he has been ousted, and the new leadership in Illinois have realized that the only way, the only possible way to restore trust in government in Illinois is through term limits.
Nick Tomboulides: Now, unfortunately, this is not the whole enchilada, this is not term limits on every member, it’s strictly term limits on leadership, and my worry would be that down the line, leadership in Illinois may attempt to repeal it just like they did in Massachusetts.
Philip Blumel: If they can vote it in, they can vote it out…
Nick Tomboulides: Correct, yeah, it’s not going into the state constitution, which would make it a lot more iron-clad, but it’s still a good start. It’s a good start, and you have to hope that there are enough members in there who have their head screwed on straight and who are ambitious enough to not allow one person to monopolize that seat for another four decades.
Philip Blumel: Right, ’cause that four decades for all that experience, for all that fine honing of his political skills, they’ve been a disaster for the state of Illinois when he took over Illinois had one of the best credit ratings and was an invest economic position and fiscal position of any state, they had a Triple A bond rating, and now they’re basically down to junk, and this happened during his reign and during a period where, because of his great power to get anything done, basically had to have his approval, that’s the power that came with that tenure and the effects on the state were disastrous.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, he has been over-promising and under-delivering for 40 years, it’s funny, you mentioned the credit rating, you look at the graph of this, The Illinois Policy Institute is put up a graph, great chart of the credit rating, and it literally looks like the hill on a roller coaster, just going totally downhill, mountains of red ink, going from a triple A rating to a triple B minus, which I think is the lowest rating in the history of any state that’s like one level above junk status. And what we learned from the Illinois experiment is the more political careerism you pump into a governmental body, the worse off you are, they become totally out of touch, totally disconnected from the people, completely self-serving instead of public serving. And Illinois is the ultimate example of that. They have 200 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities as a state, they’re gonna need a federal bail out at some point soon, and there’s really no end in sight for the mismanagement, so term limits, great start in Illinois, but they are a cautionary tale. This is a crazy statistic too since Madigan first became speaker in the early 1980s, Illinois has seen 1978 public corruption convictions.
Philip Blumel: Wow.
Nick Tomboulides: That is an average of one per week, it’s most convictions per capita, among the 10 most popular states between 1983 and 2018, according to the Department of Justice.
Philip Blumel: That’s incredible.
Nick Tomboulides: I rest my case.
Speaker 6: This is a public civil announcement.
Philip Blumel: Earlier this month, the Tennessee State House passed the resolution calling for a national amendment writing convention, limited to the subject of congressional term limits, as the Tennessee Senate mulls finishing the job, we’ve seen US rep Tim Burchett and Knox County Mayor Glen Jacobs made public stands in favor of the term limits convention, then last week in Nashville, Aaron Dukette echoed their calls on the news channel 5 show, Open Line.
Kerry: Tonight we were talking about term limits when it comes to our law makers, I would love to hear your thoughts on that but first let me introduce you to our guest. His name is Aaron Dukette, he is the Tennessee State Director for US Term Limits, Hi Aaron?
Aaron Dukette: Hi Kerry, how are you tonight?
Kerry: Tell us about us Term Limits. I didn’t know this was an organization.
Aaron Dukette: Sure, we’ve actually been around for quite some time. The US Term Limits was established in 1992, back in the mid-’90s there was a big push, a lot of discussion about term limits, and US Term Limits at its inception worked to get a lot of ballot initiatives in the states going so that the voters and the state legislatures will pass laws, not only passing state level term limits, but also legislation that would term limit a state’s own delegation to Congress, so the states would all have representation and at all times, but they had varying term limits depending on what that state decided. So actually, 23 states has some form of legislation like this, that term limit their own delegations to Congress, which is substantial movement in just about three years. But what happened was that in 1995, there was someone that wasn’t very happy with, this law, there’s an Arkansas law like this, and it was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.
Aaron Dukette: And in the Supreme Court case, that we were a party to US Term Limits verses Thornton in a 5-4 split decision, it was ruled that all those laws in the 23 states which put term limits on their own delegations to Congress were unconstitutional, and they ruled that only a constitutional amendment, which applies across the board to any state in any representation and stage could put term limits on Congress.
Kerry: So how do we get a constitutional amendment if that’s what the majority of voters want are term limits?
Aaron Dukette: Yeah, so we’re bound to follow what the Supreme Court has told us, so we have to get a Constitutional Amendment, and the Constitution tells us how we can get constitutional amendments in Article 5 of the US Constitution, it’s outlined two ways for proposing amendments and two ways for ratifying amendments, what it provides for is that when two-thirds of the state legislatures today, that’s 34 of the 50 states, has a convention for proposing an amendment, then all of the 50 states can come together for the one and sole purpose of proposing amendment according to that which they applied for, so our organization supports legislation and the state legislatures, that when 34 of the states have passed the resolution, then all the 50 states can come together to propose a congressional term limits amendment proposal.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits convention bills are moving through the state legislatures, this could be a break through year for the Term Limits movement. To check on the status of the term limits convention resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote, if there’s action to take, you’ll see a ‘Take Action’ button by your state, click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators urging them to support the legislation, they have to know you’re watching, that’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits convention resolution or the bill has not been introduced in your state, you can still help, please consider making a contribution to US Term Limits, it’s our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate, termlimits.com/donate. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.