At 7 p.m. on November 14, 2011, a jolly looking fellow strode confidently into The Sun Shoppe Café at 540 East New Haven in Downtown Melbourne, where a group of 18 agitated political activists were holding a meeting — in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street — to change the world. The group was Occupy Melbourne and on its agenda for the evening:
“Joe Pishgar is looking for support to get on the ballet [sic] to run for Brevard County Commissioner in District 3 as an Occupy Candidate.”
Familiar to the group as an enthusiastic protester, Pishgar pitched Occupy Melbourne for its endorsement in the primary election of August 14, 2012 in his campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination, and to run for the seat currently held by Commissioner Trudie Infantini of Melbourne Beach. Minutes of the meeting published on the Internet by the group revealed that the next item on the agenda was the distribution and discussion of a radical publication, Capitalism's Final Days.
In allegiance with Occupy Wall Street, the same leftist group that violated and laid siege to parts of Manhattan breaking into businesses, destroying private and public property, defiling NYPD squad cars with human feces and urine — Occupy Melbourne wants revolution. Joe Pishgar, now the Democratic Party nominee for District 3, wanted the fringe group's endorsement — and he got it.
Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Brevard County is a world away from New York City and San Francisco. A solid majority of residents are right-of-center, and many are very conservative. Occupy Melbourne’s deeply “progressive” values are not shared by many voters, as reflected in the group’s inability to draw more than 18 people to its third “general assembly” — 18, plus Joe Pishgar.
But no sooner had Pishgar gotten the Occupy movement behind his campaign did he pivot and re-brand himself a moderate.
Pishgar bristled with indignation about his Occupy roots after this writer posted a congratulatory comment for Trudie Infantini on a local newspaper website following the incumbent commissioner’s August 14th Republican primary win:
“Hooray for Trudie Infantini, the Iron Lady of the Brevard County Commission. Now she must dispatch the liberal challenger Joe Pishgar, a guy who marched with and sought the endorsement of Occupy Melbourne, a group that distributes a manifesto, ‘Capitalism's Final Days.’”
After accusing me of violating “civil rules of engagement,” Pishgar became downright Clintonian on his endorsement by the socialist-anarchist group:
“I never sought the endorsement of any Occupy group, and you can happily ask any of them.”
I already had and pointed Pishgar to the group’s published agenda minutes on the Internet (www.tinyurl.com/Pishgar4Occupy), a written record of his appearance before Occupy Melbourne.
Joe Pishgar is playing both ends of the political spectrum against the middle, and in the process he’s lured some strange bedfellows into his outsized hammock. Imagine a candidate for the Brevard County Commission seeking the endorsement of an activist organization devoted to bringing down capitalism through violent revolution also receiving the endorsement of the Space Coast Realtors association. What’s the attraction?
Is this jovial chap so thoroughly likable that special interests are willing to look beyond his values and viewpoints, ones so obviously contradictory they pose profound conflicts of interest? Or, were the groups unaware of each other’s endorsements? Pishgar prominently displays on his website his backing by Space Coast Realtors and the AFL/CIO, plus photo albums showing him participating at Occupy Melbourne protests and rallies. Seriously, radicals and Realtors?
The common DNA strand is income and taxation redistribution, something the progressive Democrat is shrewdly exploiting, and something he knows all three groups want for their own special interests. Living large, Joe Pishgar intends to ride to victory a coalition of self-disenfranchised leftists, pampered public employee unions, and a progressive real estate association looking to make incumbent Infantini pay for her outspoken distrust of Community Redevelopment Agencies, especially the North Brevard Economic Development Zone that she says will divert money from her South Brevard district.
Community Redevelopment Agencies have spread across the American political landscape threatening the fiscal solvency of Main Street USA. Where CRA’s go bad is by creating special redevelopment districts in blighted areas that unleash politicians to engage in risky business, leveraging their citizens to the gills with unsustainable, long term debt that in a prolonged recession blows up and bankrupts previously healthy towns, leaving wreckage and blight — the very condition they were created to fix.
CRA’s also practice economic Balkanization by hording tax increment revenue from property value increases. That is Infantini’s objection to the North Brevard Economic Development Zone because it will keep for itself the $2.9 million increase in annual property taxes from the new Florida Power and Light generating plant just south of Port St. John. All county taxpayers contributed to the $1 million environmental study that led FPL to voluntarily replacing the former coal-fired plant. But Brevard County Democrat Commissioner Robin Fisher’s district will keep the entire windfall for itself. With unchecked power and lots of cash, Fisher is now free to reward his constituents, including campaign contributors, with cash grants to improve their private commercial properties. Such redistribution of tax dollars, at least in the minds of fiscal conservatives like Trudie Infantini, is blatant corporate welfare at the expense of the majority of county taxpayers and FPL ratepayers. In the private sector — and in gambling casinos — it’s called skimming. Mobsters go to prison for it. Politicians make friends.
Florida Institute of Technology professor and former Clerk of the Courts auditor, Trudie Infantini recently — very publicly — laid bare the economic injustice of the NBEDZ. Perversely, her four male colleagues, all bosses of their own CRA’s, ridiculed her background in response. Up against a triumvirate of treacherous lobbies, self-indulgent politicians and the unmasked occupier Joe Pishgar, Infantini and her conservative TEA Party patriots had better be ready to rumble.
The race for District 3 County Commissioner will be a contrast of two radically opposed philosophies, one where special interests hold considerable sway over the cash flow of government, versus one where the taxpayer is respected and protected from legalized redistribution rackets.
One candidate talks the talk. The other, well, they love to watch her strut.
Letter to The Editor
By Mark Clancey
By Mark Clancey