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Florida Chamber of Commerce on the Firing Line

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April 6, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida firefighters, teachers and police officers packed the State Capitol Tuesday to charge the Florida Chamber of Commerce with falsely claiming to represent them in a new statewide 30-second TV spot.

Those opposed to the message say the Chamber plans to air it later this week. Lisa Dahl, a former police officer who now teaches in Pasco County, called the Chamber's tactic "muggery."

"I have one question for the leadership of the Florida Chamber of Commerce: Can you spell 'hypocrisy'? I belong to a union because I choose to."

Firefighters, teachers and police say corporate interest groups such as the Chamber don't speak for the middle class and are stooping to a new low in their misinformation campaign. The Florida Chamber of Commerce says it simply is advocating things such as paying teachers based on market principles and performance.

Pasco County Deputy Sheriff Mark Hussey says public servants have paid a price, sometimes with their lives, and now big business and the Chamber are biting the hand that protects them.

"I find it unconscionable that the people who are attacking the law enforcement of this state are now misrepresenting our images - without our permission, I might add - in order to further their own political agenda."

The public servants claim lawmakers in Tallahassee keep demanding more and more of teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers, yet they continue to slash the budget and now want 3 percent of their paychecks to make ends meet, while the Chamber of Commerce and other big corporate interests receive special treatment.

Les Coleman/Glen Gardner, Public News Service - FL