The Florida Chamber of Commerce seems to be preparing for trouble. #
Late last week, as liberal and labor groups planned rallies around the state to coincide with the start of the legislative session and some Central Florida teachers protested outside Republican lawmakers’ offices, the Chamber began running ads raising the specter of Wisconsin-style protests. #
On Tuesday, as protests unfolded peacefully (including two in Tallahassee, along with a tea party counter-rally), a post on the Chamber’s website again warned of looming “union activity,” complete with the image of the billionaire boogeyman, financier George Soros, who as a funder of ideological causes has long been to the right what the Koch brothers are to the left. #
Now the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the Chamber is hiring security guards and assigning color-coded war-on-terror style threat levels to defend its Tallahassee headquarters from protestors, lest they overrun the state Capitol, just blocks away, during the upcoming legislative session. #
Chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley says the group is taking “proactive measures” to ensure the safety of its employees. #
She says that the group was once picketed by ACORN and that protesters with that group apparently tried to open the doors to its office building. #
“We are involved in difficult political debates, like pension reform,” in which the Chamber is supporting Gov. Rick Scott, she says, pointing to the protests in other states and led to, among other things, the occupation of buildings. #
The St. Johns River Water Management District will soon consider a permit from Jacksonville-based utility company JEA that would allow the company to withdraw groundwater, which environmentalists are saying could negatively impact the area's ecology.