Palm Bay - Ordinance Squashed by Catholic Political Machine

FLIMEN and partners put up a good fight for the Palm Bay, Florida Unlawful Business Practices ordinance but in the end came up one vote short. On Second Reading the ordinance failed 3-2.

FLIMEN and partners aggressively sought speakers, provided information, flyers, and bumper stickers and made efforts to build a larger coalition. We countered the arguments of the opponents of the ordinance, countered the threat of legal challenge, lobbied the council via e-mails, phone calls, and faxes. It was the biggest and best run campaign of FLIMEN's short history. FLIMEN coordinated well with partners; Citizens Of Dade United, Citizens Against Illegal Aliens, Floridians for a Sustainable Population, Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, Americans for Immigration Control, Judicial Watch, and Minutemen Florida Corps.  Many, many individuals helped.

Going into the Second Reading we were aware that our 4-1 favorable vote on the first reading was in jeopardy. In the council chambers just before the start of the meeting we had a number of supporters and we were hopeful of passage until Father Hodges and his flock of anti-ordinance supporters arrived en masse.

There were 68 speakers so the debate was long and contentious. FLIMEN had hoped for a debate on the costs of illegal immigration, the need to level the playing field in Palm Bay, and the importance of the rule of law, but that was not to be.

The 4-1 favorable vote August 3rd changed to a 2-3 loss on August 17th. There can be no doubt the outcome was greatly influenced by the Catholic church. The end result was that false racial accusations trumped the rule of law.

The facts are:

  • Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, a 501(c)(3) organization, publicly opposed the ordinance
  • Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church was publicly reported as "headquarters" of the operation
  • On August 17 there was an anti-ordinance political rally at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church
  • Rev. Leo Hodges and his flock of approximately 300 anti-ordinance supporters arrived en masse at the hearing
  • The public statements at the hearing were dominated by red herring issues such as religion, racism and immorality

Other problems contributing to the defeat were:

  • Litigation threat by the Florida Commission on Human Relations, a state agency that overreached their mandate
  • Litigation threat by ACLU, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. The well-financed FIAC, a major organizer of the April and May illegal alien protests, received $575,621 from the federal government in 2004.
  • Despite pleas to American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and trade unions, their support did not materialize. NOTE: The AFL-CIO recently make a joint agreement with illegal alien hiring halls.
  • Not enough Palm Bay residents who supported the ordinance came to speak in favor of the ordinance
  • Pervasive biased media coverage

Although this was a disappointing loss by only one vote, we brought additional attention to the illegal immigration crisis and we have a better understanding of who the opponents are.

Not giving up, Palm Bay residents have announced they are seeking signatures for a referendum on the ordinance.

FLIMEN and partners will discuss our next steps and we'll come back even stronger!!!

August 21, 2006