Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan taxpayer research institute and government watchdog, is urging Florida voters to reject Question 13 because the fate of greyhound racing should not be a Constitutional question. Here’s their position:
“The constitution loses much of its significance as the foundational instrument of government when the process of constitutional amendment or revision is used as a substitute for legislation. Incorporating what is essentially a legislative matter into the constitution undercuts the legislative process and limits the areaof legislative responsibility and discretion. Once incorporated, it is extremely difficult to remove what is essentially a statutory provision from the constitution.
The contents of the Florida Constitution should be limited to matters that are essential or fundamental. Matters that are ordinarily handled through the legislative process, such as the banning of greyhound racing, should be excluded from the Constitution.
For these reasons, Florida TaxWatch recommends a NO vote on Amendment 13.”
St. Petersburg Times correspondent and greyhound adopter Danielle Hauser says that Floridians should vote NO on Question 13 because it is based on misconceptions about how greyhounds are treated.
In her September 28 commentary, Hauser noted that she knew very little about racing greyhounds before she adopted one, so she bought into some of the misconceptions about them and their treatment. “Like most people, I was wrong,” she said.
Hauser pointed out that several local greyhound adoption groups, including Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions and Greyhound Pets of America-Tampa Bay, have joined a group of 83 adoption organizations statewide that have gone on record in opposition to Question 13.
“These are non-profit, volunteer-based groups that work lovingly and diligently to foster and find retired greyhounds their forever homes. These groups also aim to educate the public about the lives of greyhounds on and off the track,” she wrote.
Greyhounds are the professional athletes of the canine world, Hauser said, so kennel owners and trainers ensure that their dogs are well taken care of. “They are fed high quality food, have plenty of play time, exercise and human interaction,” she said. “They also are under constant medical supervision.”
In her commentary, Hauser also expressed concern that Question 13 fails to provide funding for re-homing of more than 8,000 greyhounds that would be displaced from Florida greyhound tracks if the measure passes.
She concluded by urging voters to go visit a greyhound at a “Meet and Greet” event or take a greyhound kennel tour. “See for yourself what greyhounds are really like,” she said. “Dogs don’t lie.”
Citing the “politicized” Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) and the “partisan underpinning” of its “disappointing results,” editors of the Tampa Bay Times are urging Floridians to vote NO on Question 13, the amendment to ban greyhound racing.
And they didn’t stop there. In a scathing indictment of the CRC’s work, the September 28 editorial called on voters to reject all but one of the 12 ballot questions, including Amendments 6-12, the half-dozen questions the CRC added to the ballot.
“The CRC squandered an opportunity that occurs only once every 20 years to propose meaningful reforms to the Constitution,” editors wrote. “Its amendments are a muddle of unrelated issues.”
The publication’s writers noted the lack of sound reasoning on why any of the proposals should be added to the Constitution. On greyhound racing, they were particularly blunt. “Whatever your view on dog racing, its disposition doesn’t belong in the Constitution. On Amendment 13, the Tampa Bay Times recommends voting NO.”
In the wake of the Florida Supreme Court’s September 7 decision to put Question 13, a constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing, back on the November general election ballot, the National Greyhound Association (NGA) has launched a campaign to defeat the measure.
The NGA has enlisted the services of Strategic Digital Services (SDS) to assist in the campaign to defeat Question 13 in Florida.
The company, based in Tallahassee, was formed by Joe Clements and Matt Farrar, both of whom have extensive experience in Florida politics and campaigns as well as digital media marketing and advertising.
“After looking at several proposals and performing our due diligence, we selected SDS,” said NGA President Julia Ward. “We feel they are very well qualified and have the capabilities to accomplish the task at hand.”
Working together, the NGA and SDS will mount an aggressive and informative campaign of digital and media communications.
Wealthy out-of-state animal rights groups drove the effort to put Question 13, the greyhound racing measure, on the ballot. Under Florida law, passage of any constitutional amendment requires a 60 percent majority of votes cast.
“We won’t have the enormous budget of these huge animal rights groups,” said NGA Executive Director Jim Gartland, “but we are confident that our messages will reach and resonate with Florida voters.”
Gartland noted that Question 13, if passed, will cost as many as 13,000 jobs in Florida. Those displaced will include track and kennel workers, as well as hundreds of employees at the local companies who supply greyhound racing with goods and services.
“Putting thousands of Floridians out of work just to satisfy some extreme activist agenda doesn’t make much sense,” Gartland concluded.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) is hyping the success of its recent effort to persuade Nabisco, the maker of Barnum’s Animal Crackers, to redesign the snack’s package by removing the circus cages that formerly appeared on the box. The radical animal rights group, famous for its pointless publicity stunts, hasn’t explained how the new package design will enhance the lives of elephants, lions or giraffes in the wild.
An August 21 story in the New York Post reported that Nabisco agreed to redesign the box “to keep this brand modern and contemporary.” PeTA’s pitch to Nabisco highlighted the “egregious cruelty” inherent in caging animals.
If anybody understands egregious cruelty, it’s PeTA. For the past several years, the organization’s gratuitous euthanasia of “rescued” cats and dogs has been a national scandal. Since 1998, PeTA has killed more than 36,000 pets that supposedly were being taken to PeTA-operated shelters for placement in adoptive homes. Instead, most of the animals were euthanized within 24 hours of being seized by PeTA employees.
The website “PetaKillsAnimals.com” reports one highly publicized incident in 2014, when PeTA staffers actually seized a pet chihuahua from a family’s backyard. The family protested, only to learn that the dog already had been euthanized. The family sued PeTA, and the PeTA employees were charged with larceny.
It’s ironic that Nabisco would buy the “egregious cruelty” argument from an organization that has killed more animals over the past 20 years than any zoo or circus in existence. Somebody at Nabisco failed to do their homework. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few people quit buying Barnum’s Animal Crackers just to make that point.
The NGA has responded to an August 14 article in the Washington Post that was chock-full of misinformation, courtesy of Grey2K. Here’s the full text of the NGA letter to the Post, which was submitted over the signature of NGA Executive Director Jim Gartland.
The August 14 article about the proposed Constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing in Florida contained some serious factual errors, many of which can be traced back to the radical animal rights groups behind this initiative.
For example, it is untrue that greyhound racing has been “banned” in 40 states. In the vast majority of states, greyhound racing never existed in the first place because these states never authorized pari-mutuel wagering on dogs. Only one state has ever passed a statewide voter referendum to ban greyhound racing.
Contrary to Grey2K claims, greyhounds are not given performance-enhancing drugs. Drug testing by Florida officials over the past 10 years found only 71 out of 440,586 urine samples where miniscule traces of drugs were present, likely due to environmental contamination.
Animal rights claims about greyhound injuries also are groundless. Qualified veterinary research has found that the injury rate in greyhound racing is less than two-tenths of one percent. Most greyhound injuries are minor, allowing the greyhound to resume racing after a few weeks or retire into a loving home.
These misrepresentations are nothing new, but they could do serious harm in Florida. Nearly 13,000 workers are employed, directly and indirectly, in greyhound racing in that state. Track employees, kennel workers, and workers in the small businesses who supply goods and services to greyhound racing will lose their jobs if the greyhound ban passes.
We can only hope that Florida voters base their votes on common sense and not on false animal rights claims.
s/Jim Gartland, Executive Director, National Greyhound Association
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is under attack–again–by Humanewatch.org for spending over half its annual budget on fundraising materials, including “mass-produced trinkets from China…which will supposedly bring in more money from naive and gullible donors.”
A July 16 Humanewatch blog called attention to recent HSUS fundraising mailings that contained cheap plastic calculators, notepads and pens, and tote bags. Humanewatch.org is a consumer advocacy website that monitors HSUS activities and reports on the organization’s finances and programs.
More significantly, the blog noted that the “cheap and gaudy knicknacks” aren’t the only examples of HSUS financial mismanagement. According to the column, “HSUS has over $50 million stowed away in offshore Caribbean accounts, and pays annual salaries in excess of $100,000 to around 50 staff members. Only 1 percent of the HSUS budget is given to pet shelters.” The HSUS budget was $132 million in 2016.
The July 16 blog built on a December 17 post in which Humanewatch analyzed HSUS’ 2016 tax returns to determine where the organization is spending its millions. The returns showed that HSUS spent $69 million–more than half of its budget–on fundraising, $4.25 million on lobbying, and $2.9 million in compensation for 13 executives.
“You’d think HSUS could find better uses for the thousands of dollars it wastes on cheap fundraising give-aways,” said AGC Communications Coordinator Jim Gartland. “Most of us can get by without a one-buck plastic calculator or tote bag. I’m sure a lot of pet shelters and greyhound adoption groups could put those dollars to much more productive use to benefit the animals HSUS claims to care about.”
In the wake of a sexual harassment scandal that drove CEO Wayne Pacelle out of the top job at Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the group has now lost its accreditation as a charity from several of the nation’s leading charity rating groups, including the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Charity Navigator.
Humanewatch.org is reporting that the BBB’s charity oversight arm, the Wise Giving Alliance (WGA), has revoked HSUS’ charity status, and Charity Navigator has downgraded its rating to 2 out of 4 stars, with a 1 for poor financial management at the animal rights organization. The news was also reported by several agriculture groups, including Michigan Farm News, Drovers Online, Dairy Herd Management, and Protect the Harvest.
Another oversight group, Animal Charity Evaluators, rescinded its recommendation of HSUS, saying that “ethical leadership and a healthy work environment are critical components of an effective charity.”
Since news of the sexual harassment scandal broke in January, HSUS has struggled to regain its footing. A March 23 story in the Washington Post reported that sexual harassment allegations are not new to HSUS. The woman who succeeded Pacelle as CEO, Kitty Block, was a young lawyer at HSUS twenty-three years ago, when she and a colleague sued her boss, David Wills, then the organization’s Vice President for Investigations, for sexual harassment. Wills was fired as a result of the complaints.
The Post story also reported that some of HSUS’ six-figure donors are outraged that HSUS funds have been used to pay legal settlements related to sexual harassment claims. At least one of those donors, according to the report, is encouraging others to withhold financial support “until a full internal investigation has been completed and all current board members resign except those who voted to remove Pacelle.”
The Kansas City Star has published NGA’s response to an HSUS attack on greyhound racing in Kansas published in the January 7 edition. The op-ed piece by HSUS legislative director Kelly Kultala opposed the re-authorization of greyhound racing in Kansas.
NGA Executive Director Jim Gartland responded that Kultala’s column was misleading and made “outlandish claims” about greyhound racing. Here’s the full text of the letter as edited by the Star and published on January 25.
A Jan. 8 op-ed made several misleading references to “subsidies” for racing greyhounds. (7A, “Dog racing not the answer for Kansas’ budget”). The money allocated to purses in Kansas, as in several other states, comes from special-purpose taxes imposed on gambling dollars and specifically dedicated to racing purses.
It also makes outlandish claims as to the operation of greyhound farms and kennels. It should be obvious that greyhounds must receive the best possible care to perform at maximum potential on the track.
Greyhound breeding farms and kennels are operated at, and held to, extremely high standards. We not only have to meet state and local regulations, but we also enforce our own rigorous standards through unannounced inspections. We ban violators for life.
It cites injury numbers that are absurdly inaccurate. The fact is that injuries occur in less than one-half of 1 percent of all racing starts nationwide, and the majority are minor enough to allow the greyhounds to return to racing in a matter of weeks.
Even when an injury prevents a return to racing, the greyhounds can transition seamlessly to life as a pampered family pet. In fact, more than 95 percent of all racing greyhounds are either placed in adoptive homes or returned to their owners as pets when they retire.
Studies show that reopening Kansas racing facilities would generate some 4,000 jobs, about $200 million in annual wages and $23 million in annual state and local revenue while piping much-needed money to ranchers, farmers, horse and dog breeders and the services they use and employ. It is a win-win situation for Kansas.
Our legislators should not let extreme animal-rights propaganda get in the way of bringing these huge benefits to the people of our state.
National Greyhound Association