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Amendment 1 Opponents Dress Up Their Argument

James Clarke Ash

Amendment 1 opponents descended on the Leon County Courthouse and government buildings across Florida while Florida Supreme Court justices weighed an extraordinary, last-minute demand to pull the plug.

About a dozen protestors, one dressed as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, stood in a hot Tallahassee sun near the courthouse entrance. League of Conservation Voters activist Aliki Moncrief admitted it was a sharp contrast to the  $20 million-dollar pro Amendment 1 campaign put up by the state’s largest utility companies.

“The opposition to the amendment has been largely grass roots. It’s been largely organizations like ours, the Sierra Club, and labor organizations, trying to get the word out to their members without a lot of money.”

The costume was an obvious reference to Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente’s minority opinion accusing framers of pulling the wool over voters’ eyes. Backers trumpet Amendment 1’s constitutional guarantee to use solar energy, but downplay a “subsidy” provision that could lead to higher rates.

Amendment 1’s stratospheric poll numbers began to plunge when a conservative strategist was caught describing the campaign as “political jiu-jitsu.” Opponents are asking justices to reconsider ballot approval, and Moncrief says opponents are feeling a wind at their backs.

“That was a tipping point and I think that groups like ours were able to go back to supporters and say hey, we’ve really got to ramp up here. “

Amendment 1 needs 60 percent to cross the finish line, and the latest St. Leo University poll showed it hovering at 59.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.