Castillo: My Constitutional Amendment Picks

Guest Columnist

Dear Friends,

I was encouraged to publish my views on the Constitutional Amendments appearing on this coming Tuesday’s ballot and I thank Buddy for making room on his blog for this to be published in time for Election Day.  Straight to business:

No. 1 — Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirement

Repeal is proposed of the provision in the State Constitution requiring public financing of campaigns for elective statewide offices that agree to limits on campaign spending.

I’m recommending a NO vote because I’ve not lost hope that Florida will one day embrace low cost public financing of all political campaigns and help end, if not limit, this constant suspicion that exists about campaign financing.  End the banter on this subject.  Publicly finance campaigns and establish spending limits for all. It’s a smart investment in good government and yes, I’ve felt that same way for years and said so.

No. 2 — Homestead Ad Valorem Tax Credit for Deployed Military Personnel

This proposal creates an additional homestead exemption for members of the United States military deployed on active duty outside the United States. 

Vote YES. This is the right and honorable thing for us to do for our military and their families.

No. 4 — Referenda Required for Adoption and Amendment of Local Government Comprehensive Land Use Plans

Establishes that new comprehensive plans or amendments shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum,

Vote NO, this does not belong in the Florida Constitution.  If there are counties in Florida that need this, fine, let them amend their county charters.  Broward has an extensive land use process with a reputation of saying yes and no to land use proposals.  I fear this provision will drive down the value of commercial property, forcing increases in residential taxes, cost millions in election costs, people still won’t understand what they’re voting on,  it will likely increase unemployment, and ultimately we risk doing much more harm than good in Broward by adopting this change. 

No. 5 — Standards for Legislature to Follow in Legislative Redistricting

This is a fair districting proposal.  Legislative districts can no longer be drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties or to deny minorities an equal opportunity to participate in the political process by electing representatives of their choice.  Districts must be made contiguous, compact, and roughly equal in population, using existing city and county boundaries.

Vote YES.  District representatives should reflect the views of neighborhoods served.  For that to happen, districts need to have commonality and connectivity.  The way districts are drawn now very clearly makes no sense other than to serve political interests, not those of the people.  Districts should be formed to capture communities of interest and not be carved out for the specific benefit of incumbents seeking to retain office, or for political parties seeking to retain power.  By making districts represent communities, better government representation will result.  This change is LONG overdue in Florida and this proposal, together with No. 5, are probably the most important items on the entire ballot this Tuesday. Vote YES.

No. 6 — Standards for Legislature to follow in Congressional Redistricting

This is essentially the same as No. 5 above but for Congressional districts.

Vote YES for the same reasons I stated in No. 5 above.  We get more representative government in Congress that way and that’s something we should all want to support.  No brainer.  YES.

No. 8 — Revision of the Class Size Requirements for Public Schools

Florida’s Constitution basically limits the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms.  This proposal would increase those limits producing savings.

In my view, a lack of sufficient objective information keeps voters from performing an adequate cost/benefit analysis on this proposal this election day. Some say that the current class size rules of 18 elementary, 22 middle, and 25 high school students on average per classroom is essential to better public education.  Their NO vote will preserve that rule but then they forego a sizable tax savings that a YES vote would produce. Others feel that by increasing class size to 21, 27 and 30 respectively kids will learn just as well while generating millions in tax savings.  Be careful.  There is no bargain to be had by trading a tax savings for lower quality education. I favor cutting taxes where possible and for eliminating wasteful spending.  But I’m not willing to risk giving our kids a lower quality education just to save a few bucks.  Proponents of this proposal just didn’t try hard enough to convince me of the cost/benefit this proposal would produce. 

So I voted NO because I couldn’t risk that something this important be decided on an uninformed hunch.    

However you decide, make sure you cast a vote on November 2nd.  Our democracy and future depends on your willingness to exercise that most precious of rights and civic obligations:  To vote.  Warmest regards,


(A Havana, Cuba native, Angelo Castillo has a long history of trying to make government work for citizens. 

Castillo has an MBA in finance and a law degree.  He worked from 1985-96 as a senior staff member in New York City and state government.  His jobs included chief of consumer affairs and auditor general of school construction. 

Since 1996, he has held a variety of social service jobs including founding director of the Florida office of the U. S. Department Housing and Urban Development, Florida state community planning.  He currently is the executive director of Broward House, a non-profit agency providing services to those at risk or who have HIV/AIDS.   

Castillo was elected to the Pembroke Pines City Commission in 2004.  He resigned this year to run for county commission, a race that he lost.  He is now running for re-election to the commission. )



12 Responses to “Castillo: My Constitutional Amendment Picks”

  1. Raw Deal For Blacks says:

    The Republicans have been diligent to include districts for African Americans when redistricting our congressional delegation. They had their reasons, which is to gather all the most Democratic voters, blacks, in one district instead of spreading them out in several districts to help the Democrats. Amendment 6 would reverse that trend. It would be impossible to draw many African American congressional districts under Amendment 6. For that reason, I believe it would be overturned by a federal court after millions of dollars in litigation.

  2. Hallandale Beach Blog says:

    I like Angelo Castillo and many of his innovative ideas and wanted him to get elected to the Broward County Commission this year, even saying so on my blog many months ago before he officially announced he was running.
    But that said, to be fair to your readers, you should’ve also mentioned in your mini-bio of him that that Angelo served on the Broward Planning Council, which reviews and comments on large land plans before they go to the Broward County Commission for an up or down vote.

    As such, he is actually one of the few persons in the community who gets to ask hard questions about aspects of the plans they find troubling and to render an advisory opinion.

    Well, given that voters supporting Amendment 4 are implicitly saying that they believe the whole planning system in Florida (and Broward) is fundamentally flawed and biased, and he is part of that process -as a result of a selection not an election- it should hardly be surprising that he thinks the system is generally working fine.

    But what if you live in an area of Florida like I do, in Hallandale Beach, in Southeast Broward County, where the people at City Hall are often if not usually adversarial with their own citizen taxpayers and push plans that are NOT supported by its own citizens? Even to the extent that they keep public information like the formally submitted application and related documents they’ve had for months, OFF their website until the very LAST MINUTE in order to minimize opposition? And that isn’t by accident, but rather is done intentionally? It’s their policy. What do THOSE citizens do, exactly? Well, when given a chance, they’ll vote for Amendment 4 because their city is the poster child for it, regardless of whether or not the South Florida news media realizes it or not.

    One of the things that concerned residents here in Hallandale Beach opposed to the incompatible Diplomat LAC proposal earlier this year found particularly hard to accept -once they got over HB City Hall officials intentionally NOT making the public documents available on their third-rate website for citizens to read and review until 50 hours before the first vote in the city, before the HB Planning & Zoning Board, the week before Christmas- is the actual composition of that very Planning Council Angelo Castillo sits on.

    To call many of its members obscure is an understatement, as I and many other residents at the meeting often found ourselves wondering how or why they were there, since they seemed unfamiliar with some basic facts, though the professional staff is very sharp and first-class.

    It might interest many of your readers to know that under the current system in effect in Broward County, County Comm. Stacy Ritter gets to have two bites of the apple, and vote TWICE.

    Ritter was a solid vote AGAINST Hallandale Beach citizens and for the moneyed developer interests behind the ridiculous plan TWICE, and never once visited the affected area, unlike some members who were conscientious.
    Ritter voted for it wearing her Planning Council hat and voted for it wearing her County Commission hat, though fortunately, it was eventually rejected by the Commission.

    A planning system that allows one individual, and a politician at that, to vote TWICE on one important public policy issue, is NOT a sound one. Broward County needs to change the rules so that doesn’t happen anymore.

    For the record, Angelo Castillo voted for the ridiculous Diplomat LAC plan that I and my friends and neighbors were firmly against.

  3. Tommy DuLaurant says:

    You are absolutely right 1:26. Castillo has always been a voice for development. He backed the Diplomat and The Commons in Davie.
    It is a good thing we won’t have him on the county commission.

  4. Floridan says:

    @1:26 – In the case of the Dipolmat, it was rejected by the County Commission. If I were you, I would say the system worked.

    It seems that you are upset that the vote against the Diplomat project wasn’t unanimous.

    Guess what? Not everyone sees these issues (not what is in the public interest) the same way; that’s why agencies such as the Planning Council have more than one member.

  5. Hey Tommy says:


    Incorrect. I voted against Davie Commons. Let’s get the facts straight. And as Dan quite properly mentions, in both cases the process ended up rejecting those plan. So it cannot be said, as some have suggested, that in Broward County we lack a robust and independent land use review process. Remember to vote on Tuesday.



    PS — I voted for the Diplomat Golf Course application because after listening to all involved, I could not find a reason based in the land use plan to vote no. Different case in Davie Commons. There I didn’t see how one-way into the site and one-way out would ever work from a safety and transportation perspective.

  6. watcher says:

    I voted already and those were also my choices…now i know i can’t trust this guy….hmmmmm

  7. Csaba Kulin says:

    Florida builders received billions of dollars of stimulus money from Washington. They used about 20 million of that money to defeat the the people’s referendum. It was our money used to defeat us. Money talk and the people walk. There is something wrong with this process.

  8. CSABA WHAT? says:

    You have just alleged that $20 million in federal money was used by Florida builders to somehow fund the defeat of a ballot question. If true that is likely a criminal accusation. Under any circumstance it is a very serious charge to make.

    Either you have the proof of that statement which is doubtful or you have just told a lie in order to unfairly prop up your ow viewpoint. Personally I believe you have told a lie. Prove me wrong if you can.

  9. Marc Dickerman says:


    State #1
    Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirements NO

    State #2
    Homestead Ad Velorem Tax Credit for Deployed Military Personnel YES

    State #4
    Referenda Required For Adoption and Amendment of Local Government Comprehensive Land Use Plans NO

    State #5 Standards For Legislature To Follow in Legislative Redistricting

    State #6 Standards For Legislature To Follow in Congressional Redistricting

    State #8 Revision of Class Size Requirements NO

    Non Binding Statewide Referendum

    Calls for a change of the U.S. Constitution requiring the Federal Budget to be Balanced

  10. Hallandale Beach Blog says:

    Dear Floridan:
    Did you actually read the comment I wrote here or just certain words? If it’s not too much trouble, I suggest you re-read it -as well as any other comments printed here in the future by other readers- before thinking that you should comment. I wrote enough things to comment on, yet you go on an imaginary thought train that doesn’t ‘track’ with what I actually said.

    My own anger and that of so many other citizens in Hallandale Beach and southern Hollywood -did you know that Hollywood’s Planning Dept. Director took the very unusual step of writing an email to the county opposing the Diplomat proposal?- was focused on the stone-cold fact that Hallandale Beach elected officials and city employees continually REFUSED to give the city’s taxpayers access to the PUBLIC information that the city had in its possession for MONTHS on the PUBLIC city website.

    We didn’t expect the Diplomat’s team to be entirely forthcoming -and they WEREN’T- but is it really too much to ask that our own city actually allow their own citizens the chance to read the docs in a timely fashion?

    Instead, we got to see them 50 hours before the first vote. (I haven’t yet heard any anti-4 people who want to acknowledge these sorts of inconvenient facts about cozy relationships between developers and govt. officials, much less discuss them.
    Just saying…)

    But that’s the kind of anti-democratic city Hallandale Beach has been and remains under mayor Joy Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew.

    That the Broward County Commission actually voted in a way that pleased me – surprising not just me, but also the Westin Diplomat’s GM Mark Kikulski and his highly-paid Greenberg Traurig legal and lobbying team, judging by their over-the-top displays of public anger and pique- doesn’t change the fact that the taxpayers were actually disadvantaged by the city, NOT by the developer, something which the County Commissioners were not at all happy to hear.

    And nobody from the city or Diplomat team refuted it because they knew it was 100% true.

    A win by one vote is as sweet as a unanimous vote, which nobody on our side either predicted or expected. Pity the Miami Herald never bothered to pay attention to the issue, but then One Herald Plaza considers Broward County, terra incognita.

    Angelo, after so many interesting emails back and forth between us over the past year, I thought you’d at least be able to call me by MY right name -not Dan.
    C’est la vie.

  11. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    To clarify, my reference to Dan was intended for Floridan and not my good friend at the Hallandale blog — who I didn’t call by name on this page because he didn’t identify himself that way. Cheers.


  12. Floridan says:

    Hallandale Blog: I did read your comment. I just reread it and still think that your argument is flawed.

    As far is Amendment 4 is concerned, if it takes effect and a Hallandale land use amendment is approved by the County (and other governing authorities), you would have people from Parkland, Sea Ranch Lakes, Weston and Wilton Manors voting on the project. Who’s to say those voters wouldn’t cast their ballots contrary to the people in Hallandale?

    If you don’t like the commissioners you have in Hallandale, you have an opportunity to vote them out in the next elelction.