by Javier Manjarres
Since its inception, the BIZPAC Review has touted itself as a conservative alternative to the “dinosaur liberal media” in Palm Beach County, and for the most part its conservative commentators have provided an alternative for those seeking refuge from the misleading narratives and bias that are part and parcel of the Palm Beach Post. But it’s that very claim to be an “alternative” to the liberal media that has some people scratching their heads when it comes to some of the BIZPAC trustees’ recent political endorsements of candidates.
Such is the mystery surrounding BIZPAC’s very early endorsement of Democrat State Representative Joseph Abruzzo. Abruzzo represents District 85 in the Florida House and is now running for State Senate in District 25, a newly drawn district that encompasses most of Palm Beach County.
Before we review Abruzzo’s record, here are BIZPAC’s stated criteria for obtaining its endorsement-
When voting records are ambivalent or non-existent, or we do not believe we have enough information, we invite candidates in for interviews. We seek to endorse business-friendly candidates who understand the key role that the business community plays in the health of our local communities. We are bipartisan, and political party affiliation plays a lesser role in our deliberations.
BIZPAC immediately threw its support behind Abruzzo with an endorsement as soon as the newly drawn legislative districts were finalized and chose not to support either of the Republican candidates who are presently running for the seat, those being Melanie Peterson and Geoff Sommers. Peterson is an up and coming conservative star in the Republican Party, as she has extensive private sector experience in the equestrian and agricultural fields in addition to having been a civic leader in Palm Beach County for decades.
It simply makes no sense on the surface for BIZPAC to quickly fall in line behind a Democrat candidate with such a liberal record of cronyism and supporting wasteful stimulus measures that were clearly intended to bribe Floridians. There are also questions about Abruzzo’s status as both a state representative and as a registered lobbyist and why exactly Abruzzo abstained from voting on some very important measures in the Florida House- votes on issues such as offshore drilling, simplifying the foreclosure process that decreased the number of unoccupied homes in Palm Beach County and the removal of the healthcare mandate here in Florida- all of which were votes that Abruzzo inexplicably skipped out of.
But perhaps most egregiously, Abruzzo also caused quite a controversy in the community of Wellington by needlessly injecting himself into a local municipal issue where he aggressively lobbied against the construction of a privately financed development project that had huge economic implications for Wellington.
Abruzzo himself went in front of the Wellington Planning and Zoning Board on behalf of a private citizen to block the construction of a new equestrian facility that would have played host to the FEI World Equestrian Games, an event to which the city of Wellington has entered a bid to host in 2018. If Wellington were successful with its bid to host the Equestrian Games in this newly constructed facility, the event would be expected to generate around half a billion dollars for the city over a two week period- an enormous windfall, not to mention the increased international prestige and exposure that comes from hosting the event.
Wellington is one of only five cities in the world to have entered bids to host the World Equestrian Games, but thanks to Abruzzo’s efforts to nix the proposed equestrian facility, that bid is now very much in jeopardy and Wellington’s reputation as a world class equestrian city is likely to suffer a big hit should it ultimately fail to secure the games.
As we cited above, BIZPAC claims to support “business friendly” candidates. If that’s so, how on earth can BIZPAC endorse a candidate such as Abruzzo who went out of his way to use his political capital in such cronyistic manner to block the development of a private enterprise project occurring on private property that did not spend any taxpayer dollars?
Yes, it’s true that Palm Beach County is a largely Democrat stronghold and has been for quite some time. And yes, it’s also true that politics on the state and local level isn’t nearly as cut and dried as it is on the federal level these days, but there’s simply no excuse whatsoever for a self identified “conservative” publication to throw its support behind a Democrat with a track record such as Abruzzo’s while ignoring viable conservative candidates who actually are concerned about protecting free enterprise within Palm Beach County.
To its credit, BIZPAC has done some good work and has broken its fair share of stories that have earned it wider attention. But it’s fair to ask- are there other more parochial interests at play for BIZPAC or its trustees besides supporting conservative candidates and enacting sound public policy which prompted their endorsement of Representative Joseph Abruzzo for State Senate?
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