A somewhat unusual headline appeared yesterday on Sayfie Review’s Web site.

The ethics of political flip-flops.

The piece was published by the Florida Times-Union, or at least, by jacksonville.com.

The ethics of political flip-flops, is subtitled:

Crist raises questions in changing position on gambling issue

This Native American name is used with official sanction of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc

This Native American name is used with official sanction of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc

… That all depends on whether the shift is in policy or principle, said Gary Dorrien,  professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary and professor of religion at Columbia University.

“When you throw principle overboard in the name of expedience … it seems opportunistic,” Dorrien said. “You’ve just sold out, and I think that is deadly in politics.”

Dorrien said he is unfamiliar with the Florida situation but said gambling is considered a moral and ethical issue to many voters. “In that context, he may have crossed the line there,” Dorrien said of Crist.

(That’s true –  Questions have been raised).

Some questions are easily answered  by picking up the phone and calling Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Understandably, Bitner said he was surprised by TONE of the article.

Bitner is interested in sharing with the media any questions pertaining to The Seminole Compact Accords.

In fact, Bitner and two tribal council members visited the Times-Union’s editorial board in March 2009 to answer any questions pertaining to the compact.

To be fair, Jeff Brumley covers the religion beat for Metro, while Mike Clark is  Editorial Page editor, so they may not have discussed the “ethics of political flip-flops” between themselves.

Bitner said the current compact has a long history, beginning with the federal 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Bitner also mentioned Govs. Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush.

It’s easy to locate the April 22 memorandum issued through the Governor’s Press Office to “interested media.”

Included in this memo are the following:

· Statement from Governor Charlie Crist

· Statements from the Seminole Tribe of Florida Representatives

· What Floridians can expect as a result of the Compact Accords

· The Seminole Compact Accords Timeline

NOTABLE:

NOVEMBER 5 2007: Secretary of the Interior notifies State and the Tribe that he will issue procedures authorizing the Tribe to conduct Class III gaming if a compact is not submitted for approval by November 15, 2007.

Asked if the Seminole Compact Accords would have any affect on – or to – Northeast Florida, Bitner said, “no.”

(Unless one considers Orlando relevant to Northeast Florida.)

The Seminole Tribe of Florida's Hard Rock Cafe

The Seminole Tribe of Florida's Hard Rock Cafe

The Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2007 bought Orlando-based Hark Rock Cafe International, Inc., Bitner said,  for $965 million, employing approximately 30,000 worldwide.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida currently employs more than 2,000 non-Indians and purchases more than $24 million dollars in goods and services from more than 850 Florida vendors a year. In addition, the Tribe pays $3.5 million in federal payroll taxes, according to its Web site.

REGARDLESS of one’s position on the Seminole Compact Accords, POLITICAL FLIP-FLOPPERY seems an unusual story angle for a state financial and  budgetary issue

which expediently” leaves Gov. Crist between a Rock and a Hard place!

— k.a. gardner

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